Greeting from Morrison and Hertz Hall,
First and foremost, it is with great sadness that I share with you the news that Professor Emeritus Olly Wilson (b. 1937) passed away peacefully on March 12 at the age of 80. Professor Wilson was a prolific composer and scholar of African American music who taught in our Department of Music from 1970 to 2002. He was a tireless advocate for equality in higher education, and a trusted friend and mentor to many faculty and students in the Department of Music. The Department of Music is planning a special concert and symposium in honor of Professor Wilson for the early Spring of 2019. Please come join us!
If you have not had the chance to see an evening or noon concert yet this semester, April boasts plenty of exciting performances including the Wind Ensemble, the University Chorus, The University Symphony Orchestra, Gamelan and more. The 2018 Bloch Lectures with noted Argentine composer Martin Matalon wraps up the semester with a pair of lectures on April 27 (125 Morrison) and May 2 (CNMAT) and several concerts. The University Symphony Orchestra under Professor David Milnes will perform Matalon’s Lignes de fuite on May 4-5, and performance of Foxtrot Delirium, featuring our own ECO Ensemble, will perform his new instrumental and electronics score for Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess (Cal Performances, May 6, Zellerbach Playhouse).
This issue of our eNewsletter features stories on the passing of Olly Wilson, a look at 2017 NEH grant winners associate professor Nicholas Mathew and our instrument collection curator Carla Shapreau, and more on 2018 Bloch Lecturer Martin Matalon.
As always, your financial support helps us maintain the standard of excellence the department tirelessly strives to achieve. Your gifts have a tremendous impact on our mission. Donations to the Department of Music do everything from ensuring that students receive world-class instrument lessons to training the next generation of composers and musical scholars. Please consider giving today.
Olly Wilson, 1937-2018
Olly Wilson, an esteemed music professor and composer passed away peacefully on March 12, 2018, in Berkeley, CA.
Wilson was a prominent member of the UC Berkeley Music Department faculty from 1970 to 2002. He was a renowned composer and an indefatigable advocate for diversity in the Arts. “Olly was very important for the department, for the campus, and for the study of African American music more broadly, in addition to his significant impact as a composer and professor of composition,” said Music Professor Ben Brinner. “Knowing him first as a teacher during my graduate school days, I came to consider him a mentor, a valued colleague, and a friend after I joined the Berkeley faculty.”
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Wilson showed a keen talent for music at an early age. He attended Washington University earning his B.M. degree in music in 1959. Wilson went on to earn his M.M. degree in music composition in 1960 from the University of Illinois, then onto the University of Iowa to earn his Ph.D.
Following stints at Florida A&M University and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Wilson joined the UC Berkeley Department of Music in 1970. He served as Chair of the department from 1993-1997.
“Olly was indeed a model for all-around excellence; I have never met anyone close to his unique combination of compositional, musicological, and administrative skills,” noted Wilson’s colleague Michael Senturia, who conducted the University Symphony Orchestra from 1962-1992.
A prolific composer, musician, and scholar Wilson was a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and won numerous awards and prizes including two Guggenheim fellowships and the Rome Prize. His establishment of the TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts) program at Oberlin Conservatory was a pioneering accomplishment as the first-ever conservatory program in electronic music. A profoundly skilled composer, Wilson’s pieces spanned from electronic music to works for chamber ensembles and orchestra. He was commissioned by Black Music Repertory Ensemble, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Boston Musica Viva.
New York Times: Olly Wilson, 80, Dies; Composer Meshed African and Western Music
2018 Bloch Lecturer: Martin Matalon
Prize-winning Argentine composer and musician Martin Matalon will visit UC Berkeley in late April and early May for a pair of lectures, rehearsals with the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, and a production of Foxtrot Delirium featuring “The Oyster Princess” by Ernst Lubitsch with UC Berkeley’s adventurous ECO Ensemble.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1958, Matalon received his Bachelor degree in composition from the Boston Conservatory of Music in 1984, and in 1986 his Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. In 1993 he moved to Paris, where he collaborated with IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique Musique). His catalog spans a variety of chamber and orchestral works as well as ballets, operas, and music for films. Mr. Matalon continues his long and prestigious career as a professional composer and conductor and is currently Professor of Composition at the Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Dans de Lyon.
“Coming back to CNMAT to work with Ed Campion, David Milnes, the great students, the Eco Ensemble, and the University Symphony Orchestra, completely thrills me,” said Matalon. “Berkeley is one of my favorites cities in the US, I couldn’t be happier to come back to work in such an amazing place!”
Matalon’s first Bloch Lecture on April 27th titled “Composing Across Media: The Music of Martin Matalon,” will explore the composer’s virtuosic approach to crossing instrumentation of different cultures and styles to push boundaries. The second Bloch Lecture slated for May 2 at the Center for New Music and Technology,titled “Music for Instruments & Live Electronics” overviews Matalon’s powerful “Traces” series, will feature a performance of Traces VIII, with violinist Dan Flanagan. On May 4th and 5th the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, led by David Milnes, will perform Matalon’s Lignes de fuite, a 2007 piece that translates to “Lines of Convergence“ in which the composer describes his mission “to reinterpret the concept of a line in space in a way I can exploit the orchestra in its entirety.” The performances will be at Hertz Hall with tickets from $20-5.
On May 6th, UC Berkeley’s ECO Ensemble directed by Milnes brings the cinematic vision of Ernst Lubitsch to life with the US premiere of Matalon’s film score for the director’s “The Oyster Princess.” The 1919 silent comedy of mistaken identities is a satire aimed at the desires and transgressions of the German bourgeoisie. Cal Performances executive and artistic director Matías Tarnopolsky begins the program with an onstage interview of Matalon; following an intermission, the film will be screened to a live performance of the score. The performance will take place at the Zellerbach Playhouse, with tickets $20 each.
Mathew and Shapreau win NEH grants
Associate Professor Nicholas Mathew and lecturer, senior fellow and musical instrument collection curator Carla Shapreau have been awarded National Endowment for the Humanities grants for research and preservation of the Department of Music’s rare and historical instrument collection.
Mathew’s grant of $6,000 will go to the purchase of environmental monitoring equipment, storage furniture, and supplies to preserve and sustain a large collection of historical and rare musical instruments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries in the Music Department’s collection. The instruments are studied and also played by students. Many of the instruments used in the Department’s University Baroque Ensemble are part of the Department’s collection and used for rehearsal and performance. Because of their nature, diligent efforts are made to protect, preserve, and document the musical instruments in the collection so that they will be available for generations to come, while also providing access for study, examination, and performance.
Shapreau is receiving a $50,000 fellowship grant for research and work on a book project, Orpheus Lost: The Nazi-Era Plunder of Music in Europe, as well as pursuing preliminary efforts on a related musical digital humanities project. Recently she and other members of the Department, working with the Museum of Musical Instruments at the University of Leipzig, contributed information for the catalog raisonné on the Hoffmann family of stringed instrument makers, Martin und Johann Christian Hoffmann:
Geigen- und Lautenmacher des Barock: Umfeld – Legen – Werk, the first scholarly study of the Department’s 1731 viola pomposa by Johann Christian Hoffmann.
“It’s a great and unexpected honor to have received this NEH fellowship award. With these much-appreciated resources I plan to contribute to a reconstruction of this facet of musical history and to make accessible provenance evidence on musical material culture losses drawn from primary sources,” said Shapreau. “Shedding some light on the unknown Nazi-era past of these musical objects and the lives and historical events that intersected with them will hopefully offer a new context within which to reconsider these musical works and their layers of meaning, part of our cultural heritage.”
Shapreau also serves as Senior Fellow in the Institute of European Studies and a Lecturer in the School of Law, where she teaches a course on Art and Cultural Property Law.
An independent federal agency created in 1965, the NEH has given millions of dollars in grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars.