Zakir Hussain, Crossing Borders

Zakir Hussain, one of the foremost percussionists of the contemporary world, was Regent’s Lecturer at the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies in Spring 2015. As a performer of Indian classical jazz and a composer, he is a brilliant example of border crossing music, and is widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement.Jazz Ensemble plays with Zakir Hussain

While at Berkeley he participated in two public events: a discussion with Professor Bonnie Wade about the changing dynamics of the tabla in Hindustani classical music, and a Jazz Fusion master class with music students, with Myra Melford as faculty lead.

Hussain’s collaborators include John McLaughlin and L. Shankar (they formed Shakti together), as well as Diga Rhythm Band, Making Music,  Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, and recordings and performances with artists as diverse as Joshua Redman, George Harrison, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Jack Bruce, Tito Puente, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Cobham, the Hong Kong Symphony and the New Orleans Symphony. He has been hailed by media as a virtuoso, a superstar and an encyclopedia of tabla.

Bach B Minor Mass

Chamber Chorus with period orchestra concert

Marika Kuzma conducts the Chamber Chorus and period orchestra in the performance of the B minor Mass in Hertz Hall.

The University Chamber Chorus, directed by Marika Kuzma, performed Bach’s monumental masterpiece, the B Minor Mass in April 2015 at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall. Oakland Tribute reviewer Martin Snapp writes: “It is the first time they’ve performed it since 1999 (and it might very well be the last as it is such a massive undertaking). It’s so huge, Bach himself never heard it performed in his lifetime.”
Choral director Marika Kuzma suggests that with all the fugues, it is a challenge to give each one a different personality, and in fact, the “B minor” in the title is a misnomer. Minor keys often imply lugubrious music, and this work is anything but. Most of the movements are actually in D Major, “and nothing says “joy” like D Major”

Kuzma says that this piece changed her career. “I was playing violin in the student orchestra when I was a freshman at North Carolina, ” she says. Then I heard the B Minor Mass, and it was so amazing I thought the ceiling had come off. I immediately dropped the orchestra and switched to chorus, instead.

Morrison Hall: Watch this space

“It looks so different! It’s great!” “I love the new office!” These are some of the comments we have been hearing as we near completion of a remodeling project that has completely altered the shape and feel of half of Morrison Hall’s top floor. Planning to renovate the space began even before the library moved into its new home in the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library ten years ago, but only recently were we able to obtain the necessary funding.

So far, the work has focused on dividing up the space into new teaching, rehearsal, office, and storage areas. Soon the four new teaching spaces will feature state-of-the-art audio-visual capabilities. We now have three rooms that are focused on ethnomusicology: a “soft instrument room”, the gamelan room, and a room that can accommodate drumming and other, louder instruments. Other than the gamelan room, these rooms will be multi-use. We are only beginning to discover the possibilities!

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HookTheory, what makes pop, pop?

As UC Berkeley’s iconic music venue, Hertz Hall was selected as a photo backdrop for a musically related article pun-tastically titled, “What makes pop, pop?.” The piece features the research of three Engineering graduate students, bridging the world of technology research and application with music.

In a recent article in NewsCenter, Nate Seltenrich described how the trio coded and analyzed the chords and melodies to more than 1,300 sections of popular songs from countless genres and eras. Then, they sifted through the data for patterns and trends, hoping to develop tools allowing aspiring songwriters to follow suit. Their findings led them to develop a theories, books and series of software called “HookTheory”.

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Remembering Helen Farnsworth (1914–2014)

Helen Farnsworth

Helen Farnsworth, former manager of the Music Department

Between 1939 and 2005, the Music Department had just two managers, Helen Farnsworth and myself. We saw the Department through decades of change in the University, the workplace, and the world. The music was the constant, and the challenges of maintaining ambitious and increasingly complex and diverse programs were easily eclipsed by the rewards.

A friend and colleague to the faculty, Helen worked ardently and selflessly on their behalf as the Music Department and Library grew to international stature and moved in 1959 from its ramshackle quarters
to Morrison and Hertz Halls. She handled the business and tended the programs and facilities with skill and affection, setting the tone and high standards for her staff and generations to follow.

This past July, many of Helen’s friends gathered on her 100th birthday for a memorial instead of the celebration—complete with a Berkeley mayoral proclamation—planned for the occasion. Her kindness and generosity of spirit touched us all in many ways, and the Music Department of today wouldn’t be the same without her.

— Hildegarde Klee, Department Manager, December 2014