Orientalism in Israeli Music

On Thursday, Sept. 22 in St. Mary’s Hall, the Music Department hosted Dr. Ronit Seter, a musicologist specializing in Israeli art music, for a presentation entitled “Israeli Classical Music: Crossroads between East and West.” Dr. Seter has worked at institutions such as the Peabody Conservatory at John Hopkins University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she is currently an affiliated scholar at the Jewish Music Research Centre. Dr. Seter’s presentation dealt with the classification of Israeli music, as she explored Israeli music of the past and present and how perceptions of it have changed over time and through different political landscapes. Her overarching question dealt with the true constitution of Israeli music. On a basic level, she asked what it is and what it is not. It turns out that the answer is not as simple as it seems initially. Israeli music is truly a conglomerate of musical styles and ideas. This is because the occidental orientalist perception of Israeli music ignores the individual persons and identities that create Israel and the surrounding region.

Dr. Seter explained orientalism as the image of the Eastern world as an imaginary, often fantastical place. In our Western society, we see the East as what Richard Taruskin deems a “totalized Other.” That is, we tend to pigeonhole all of the rich artistic cultures of the East into one lump sum of creation. The same holds true for our classification of Israeli music. In the Jewish people of Israeli alone, there are several different communities with their own identities. Ashkenazi music and art differs heavily from that of the Mizrahi people. In the orientalist perspective, though, these are both seen simply as Jewish works. Similarly, we place Islamic art and culture in the same realm as Hebrew or Jewish art. The contrasts between the works, however, are stark. Arabic music is also often classified with Israeli music, as the two emerge from nearby regions. Thus constitutes the Western idea of Israeli music.

This perceived amalgamation of music transcends time as well as space. Dr. Seter cited Alexander Boskovich, born in 1907 in what is now Romania. Boskovich is widely considered an Israeli composer, as he embraces styles from his Orthodox Jewish heritage in his pieces, regardless of his birthplace. Later in his life, he resettled in Tel Aviv, thus unknowingly conceding to his label as an Israeli composer.

Dr. Seter attempted to summarize her argument by restating her initial question: What is Israeli music? In her journey through time, she found that she was truly unable to put a finger on a concrete definition. Israeli music is not simply one identity, as we in the Western world often view it. Rather, the concept of “Israeli music” encompasses the same people that inhabit the country or claim it as their homeland. The view of Israeli music as one single genre perpetuates the theme of orientalism, ignoring each of the individual styles and cultures that contributes to it.

World Carnival Features Games, Events, Music from Around the World

On Saturday, April 21, the Student Govermnent Association (SGA) Programs Board hosted the 19th Annual World Carnival, featuring games, vendors, and cultural performances from all over the world. The carnival, which was held in and around the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics & Recreation Center (MPOARC) and on Admissions Field, lasted from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then picked back up at 8 p.m. for musical performances by The Carpet House Band and Electric Six.

Because of the threat of rain during the day, most of the events took place in the MPOARC, but some of the vendors, food, and club tables were outside. However, the day proved to be sunny and warm until the end of the outdoor carnival events. Students could enjoy games and activities provided by clubs, play laser tag in a bouncy arena, take photos with friends in a photo booth, play an inflatable basketball challenge, play quidditch, or shop at the various cultural vendors and food booths.

The cultural events, held in the gym in the MPOARC, ran throughout the carnival and offered a wide variety of performances. One of the most popular events was the debut performance of the St. Mary’s Drum Corp, who drew interest by marching to and from the carnival. There was also a reading of the Sneetches by the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Beth Rushing with a Take One! Improv performance. Local reggae band D.K.G.B., Maryland Dhoom, a University of Maryland College Park-based Indian Dance team, and Miller, another local band, also brought culture to the stage. Students who attended the events could choose from a table of free World Carnival swag, with items such as sunglasses, foam fingers, and color changing cups.

In addition to the cultural events taking place all day in the MPOARC, there was also a St. Mary’s Triwizard Tournament on Admissions Field, with various challenges happening throughout the afternoon. In the week leading up to World Carnival, students from each class could submit their name into the Goblet of Electric Blue Flames at the Campus Center. At 1:45 on Saturday, two names were drawn from each class to represent their class in three challenges: archery, castle destruction, and an obstacle course. Juniors Nick Huber and Owen Ma won the tournament, and the other classes all tied for third place.

At 4 p.m. on the Admissions Field, St. Mary’s held its version of the Indian Holi Festival, an Indian cultural celebration of spring. Participants were encouraged to wear bathing suits and were given white Holi Festival t-shirts to throw the colored powder on each other. “It was a lot of fun,” said first-year Danielle Lafferty. “It really was the perfect way to celebrate spring at World Carnival.”

During the festival, SGA clubs could host tables out on the lawn to raise money and interest for various causes.There was a raffle to raise tuition money for a Gambian students with exotic items from Greece, India, Slovenia, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Poland, and Spain. Students could make tie-dye t-shirts to raise money for Circle K International for the Eliminate Project to rid the earth of neonatal tetanus or spray paint designs on a white shirt to raise awareness for Invisible Children.

The Crew Team challenged the student body to beat them in Erg sprints, or students could compete against their friends for pins and bragging rights. Carnival-goers had the opportunity to pie Officer Mary in the face, get a Tarot Card reading, or  buy a caffeinated goldfish. While not perusing the club tables, participants enjoyed Bollywood Masala, Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream, Gwennie’s Caribbean Food, kabobs, gyros, and activities at the craft vendor tables.

The major musical event in the evening, although originally planned to take place in a tent on Admissions Field, took place in the MPOARC. The opening act was a band made up of seniors Matt Pindell, Scott Smoot, and Mike Snow, otherwise known as The Carpet House Band. The headliner was Detroit-based band Electric Six, known for such hits as “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar.” The band’s sound, as described by AllMusic.com, is a mix of “garage, disco, punk, new wave, and metal into cleverly dumb, in-your-face songs.” Although all students may not agree that they were exceptionally clever, the music was a good way to end another successful World Carnival. “The band wasn’t really my thing, but it was a great way to end a fun day,” said first-year Julia Maas.

Ravyns' Rob Fahey Performs on Campus Center Patio

On Tuesday, April 17, Rob Fahey came to St. Mary’s to perform a small set on the Campus Center patio for a small audience.

Fahey, formerly of the Ravyns (based in Baltimore, beginning in the 80s) and currently of the Pieces, began his performance with a cover of the Beatles’ song, “Blackbird.” The rest of the performance consisted mostly of original songs, both from his solo career and from his career as a band member of the Ravyns.

He also added in two other covers of songs: “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, and “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. Original songs that Fahey played included “Waiting to Live,” “October Changes,” “Ghost Stories,” and “Home” (all from his solo career), as well as a song from the 80s hit movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack, “Raised on the Radio” (performed by the Ravyns).

Junior Matt Anthony, executive board member for the HAWK Radio, organized the performance and interviewed Fahey. The interview aired on Wednesday, April 25, and Friday, April 27, at 11 a.m. on the HAWK Radio. Anthony, in discussing how he got Fahey to come to this campus, said, “I know Rob pretty well, because my dad and all of his friends back in the 80s used to go out and see the Ravyns all the time. One of my dad’s really good friends got to know the band by going to shows all the time. I’ve known the Ravyns music forever, because my dad played it a lot when I was growing up; I was kind of raised on classic rock.”

According to Anthony, Fahey now performs at private parties and bars. “Rob also plays at bars and stuff in the area. Every third Friday he’s in Bel Air at a restaurant called Looney’s,” said Anthony.

Fahey’s performance received a lot of positive feedback from the audience members. “I thought he was really interesting,” said senior Todd Newman. Before Newman joined the audience, he could hear the performance from the path near the pond. He added, “The part [about the performance] that I think I found most enjoyable about it was coming up from the pond toward the Campus Center. The reverberating echo sounded almost haunting, and made me want to go see what he actually sounds like.”

According to Anthony, Fahey has played on the St. Mary’s campus before. “I’d like to thank St. Mary’s for having me. I really enjoyed it, and would look forward to coming back. It’s been some time since I played on a campus. It’s been a refreshing change from the club and bar atmosphere,” Fahey said.

More information on Rob Fahey, including a performance schedule, a timeline of his career, and photos, can be found at www.robfahey.com.

HAWK Radio Provides Soundtrack for St. Mary's Students

Looking for a soundtrack for your studying?

Same old iTunes playlists just not cutting it anymore? If you’re looking to add a little musical variety into your life, why not tune in to the HAWK Radio? Yes, that’s right. SMCM has our own college radio station, and, to quote the Beatles, it’s “getting better all the time.”

The SMCM HAWK Radio provides free online radio to anyone, anywhere who wants to listen. The HAWK has live shows featuring student disc jockeys (DJs) scheduled all throughout the week. We stream our shows online, so all you have to do to listen is go to www.seahawkradio.com and tune in!

We offer all kinds of shows. Any student can sign-up for their own show, so our programming is extremely diverse. We have themed shows, freeform shows, and we even have talk radio. Especially popular this semester is the new Diversity, Race and Gender (DRAG) show, which combines talk radio and music to allow listeners the opportunity to express their diversity. Freeform shows, Loerop+Anthony provide diverse programming with a wide appeal, while themed shows such as The Classical Experience or The Progressive Beat focus on a specific genre. Whatever you like, there’s bound to be a show you’ll enjoy. Tune in to hear your friends on the air, or just check it out if you want to try something new. Our full schedule is printed in this article, and is also available at our website.

In addition to our programming, we have also been working very hard this semester to make the station even better for our DJs and listeners. We are in the process of updating our website, with the goal of launching the new site by next year.

The new website will offer a number of updated features, including the ability to access archived recordings of our shows. In addition, we have been taking our show on the road, so to speak, providing DJing services for on-campus events. The most recent of these, Relay for Life, proved to be very successful. If you are interested in having HAWK DJs provide music for your event, please contact a member of our executive board.

We are also excited to announce that we are planning on sponsoring our first ever live performance. On April 17, Rob Fahey, former member of Baltimore-based rock group The Ravyns, will be recording an exclusive session at the HAWK, followed by a performance on the Campus Center Patio. Look for more information about this event as it gets closer, and tune in to our automated Baltimore Bands show every morning from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. to hear music by Rob and other popular Baltimore-area artists.

While all of this sounds pretty cool, we can’t continue to provide awesome events and programming without the support of talented DJs and dedicated listeners. If you are interested in DJing a show on the HAWK, please contact a member of our executive board. We are always looking for new DJs who share our love of music and radio. Even if you’re not thinking about your own show, why not tune in to the HAWK one day? Providing great DJs and excellent programming means nothing if there’s no one to listen to it and our wide range of shows almost guarantees that you will find something you like! Tune in at www.seahawkradio.com or check us out on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/seahawkradio.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact one of our executive board members: Nick Hughes (ndhughes@smcm.edu), Pippa Friedman (pefriedman@smcm.edu) or Matt Anthony (mhanthony@smcm.edu).

St. Mary’s Professors Show Off Their Musical Talents

On Wednesday, April 7, several members of the administration, faculty and staff performed in front of a packed St. Mary’s Hall auditorium.

Performers included:

David Kung (Associate Professor of Mathematics), violin
Shizuka Nishikawa (Assistant Professor of Economics), piano and vocals–soprano
Stephanie Peppler (Internship Coordinator/Career Counselor), cello
Anne Marie Brady (Assistant Professor of Psychology), piano
Jeffrey Byrd (Professor of Biology), vocals
Lois Stover (Chair of Educational Studies), vocals
Laura Bayless (Dean of Students), vocals
Lyn Schramm (Supervisor of Music Interns and Adjunct Professor of Educational Studies), piano
Brad Park (Assistant Professor of Philosophy), vocals and banjo
Bill Friebele (Art Professor), electric bass
Jeff Hammond (English Professor), drums
Conrad Helms (Patron Services Librarian), guitar
Rick Loheed (Assistant Director of the Waterfront), guitar and vocals
Richard Wagner (Director of Campus Store), guitar and vocals

Coffeehouse Performers Don't Feel the Chill Despite the Cold

Coffeehouse Performers Don't Feel the ChillLast Thursday’s Coffeehouse was another big hit.  The cold October 1st night didn’t deter a modest but enthusiastic audience from attending, and they were not disappointed.  The six-man band Half the Battle, solo act Nick Hughes, and the three-piece band Kaleidotropic proved to be a recipe for a successful evening.

The entity of Half the Battle has existed in many forms over the past seven years, and the band has seen a number of different lineups as it evolved.  The most recent strain of Half the Battle includes Mike Selkmann on bass, Kyle Sullivan on guitar, keyboards by Jack Leathers, two brothers identified to this reporter as Jack and Matt “Bogandor” on drums and rhythm guitar, and their newest lead singer Patrick Gilbert.  Their sound is an in-your-face throwback to the 90s alternative scene, bringing such songs to life as the Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes” and Sublime’s “What I Got.”  They also wrote a couple songs of their own, including “Bonfire” and “Get off My Mind.”  By the end, at the constant urging of the keyboardist, they were tackling Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” and they finished off with “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.

“We appreciate everyone who came out despite the cold to see us,” says Leathers, and he went on to promise free hats for all Half the Battle fans who turn out next time they perform… maybe.  They were able to put on a decent show even after having to pause halfway through to move their cars off the sidewalk for safety reasons, to which they replied, “Thanks P.S., we feel a lot safer now that we can’t get to our cars.”  But as any rising band knows, setting up before the show is half the battle.

Next up was singer/electric-guitar-player Nick Hughes, who also coordinates the electronic equipment that makes Coffeehouse possible.  Technically he was playing solo, but he was able to achieve the sound of a full band complete with a drums and synthesizers with the help of an array of self-crafted computer beats.  After warming up the crowd with a few original songs, his fellow band mates joined him on stage to form Kaleidotropic.  This spacey instrumental group featured the afore-mentioned Nick Hughes on guitar and bass, Justin Williams on drums, and the dreadlocked “Swage” on guitar, bongos, and electric violin.  The band played a trio of extensive jam sessions that did not need vocals; they meshed together very well and produced a solid sound that was at the same time psychedelic and ethereal.  Even the band members could not fully explain the essence of their music, but it could possibly be described as progressive funk jazz psychedelia mixed with a little metal and brought to a rolling boil.

As good as these bands are, they can’t play every Thursday.  If you can sing or play an instrument and are interested in performing at Coffeehouse, then please contact Meghan Milsted.

Final Coffeehouse – Featuring The Five One Band




The following is footage from the final coffeehouse (formerly ‘Thursdays at the Grind’) of the 2008-2009 academic year. The headline band was The Five One Band. The event also featured St. Mary’s Students. You can see all the footage from the event at our YouTube channel.

Alumni Get Jazzed Up Again

One evening in the ARC  38 years of music at St. Mary’s came together. On Saturday, Feb. 28, an audience of over 800 was treated to two separate Jazz Ensemble performances: the Jazz Ensemble during the 1970s, whose members came from across the East Coast; alongside current members of the Jazz Ensemble.

Don Stapleson, the current director of the Jazz Ensemble, began the evening by mentioning the Jazz Ensembles’ passion for the “traditional jazz” of Thelonious Monk and Louie Armstrong. The Jazz Ensemble then played four jazz numbers, including a piece called “I Remember Clifford” which Stapleson dedicated to a friend, renaming the song to “I Remember Jeremy.”

Between both Jazz Ensembles’ performances, former St. Mary’s president J. Renwick Jackson spoke about the college. He reiterated several times that “St. Mary’s College is a place of dreams.” Jackson was president of St. Mary’s from 1969-1982, and is now a Reverend at Community Of The Creator Spirit in Brookhaven Hamlet, New York. “We were told it wasn’t possible for a public college to be as good as a private college.”

After Stapleson’s ensemble played, Bob Levy took the stage to direct the ensemble of Alumni. Levy has an interesting directing style – he’ll move forward to signify an increase in intensity, embodying the tempo and intensity of the music as he directs it. Levy’s ensemble performed almost a dozen different jazz numbers, several of them written by members of the ensemble.

Levy was absolutely fundamental in making the school’s music program what it is today. “The magic of tonight is the magic of Levy,” said Maryland Poet Laureate Michael Glaser. “He did it when he was here in the ‘70s and he did it here tonight.”

Jazz musicians from across the East Coast returned to St. Mary’s on February 28 to perform together. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)
Jazz musicians from across the East Coast returned to St. Mary’s on February 28 to perform together. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)

Levy started the Music Department in 1971, directing his first concert in December of that year.

After the show, he spoke of the early years of the music department. “I was captivated by making something from nothing,” to be able to shape its attitudes and philosophy. “It was a joyous time for me.”

“The amazing thing is here’s a guy who’s finishing a PhD and he’s coming to a school with no music program,” said Jack Palmer, a member of the original ensemble.

Levy said he was glad to meet current students. “There’s some talented kids with great potential to blossom.”

The arranger for musician Prince and St. Mary’s alumni, Greg Boyer, directed the ensemble for a song he arranged. When Boyer stepped onstage, he apologized that he didn’t have a speech for his composition, explaining that he would let the music speak for itself.

Students from the current Jazz Ensemble found it exhilarating to meet previous members of the Ensemble one-on-one, including Boyer.

“He came up and talked to me, I almost died,” said Alex Schwalje, a current Jazz Ensemble member. “I, like, worship him. Prince is all about musicians who can play well.”

“I just hope that in 30 or 40 years I can come back and play in the jazz band… and have as much fun as they’re having,” added Nick Hughes, a first-year.

Bob Levy (left) who began the music department in 1971, directs alumni during the Jazz Retrospective.
Bob Levy (left) who began the music department in 1971, directs alumni during the Jazz Retrospective.

Don Mumbert, a member of the local community said meeting the alumni was “great for the younger musicians, so they can see where they can be.”

Most of the audience was composed of members of the community, or family and friends of the musicians. “It’s disappointing that more students didn’t show up,” said Bryan Alexander, a [junior].

“It was so cool to see that this small college could produce this,” said Leroy Pressley.

Returning alumni were also excited to be back at St. Mary’s. Larry Brown, who teaches at Great Mills High School, said that former Jazz Ensemble members were eager to return here. “Some of them haven’t seen each other for 20 years.”

There was a bond between members of the Jazz Ensemble when it first began. “You can see the solidarity of people who used to go here,” said Lauren Scrieber, a senior.

“The college is where this group of people formed a family,” said Terry Alvey. “To come back and do this and be greeted is amazing.”

“Thursdays at the Grind” Resurrect Coffeehouse

Students packed the Campus Center to watch the Hurley brothers, and others, perform last Thursday. (Photo by Rowan Copley)
Students packed the Campus Center to watch the Hurley brothers, and others, perform last Thursday. (Photo by Rowan Copley)

Students were probably surprised last week when they received an email about a new program on campus called “Thursdays at the Grind.” However, the new coffee house chair, senior Lauren Schreiber wants you not to worry; she’s just “switchin’ it up” this semester in order to serve your live music needs better.

Schreiber, who replaced Dan Pindell as Coffee House chair this semester as he is studying abroad, is hoping to revive the program this year.

“In the recent past, coffeehouse was having difficulties pulling in a number of students; we have a small campus and with the event happening every week, I think folks started taking it for granted,” Schreiber said, “rather than cutting the program, I decided to change the name: you know, to shake things up and let students know that it was something fresh and worth coming out to.”

This semester Schreiber intends to make a few more changes, all of which are focused around the goal getting more people involved in the coffee house program.  The event will still be every week, and will always feature live music.

One interesting change that the new Coffee House chair has in store for Thursdays at the Grind will be to bring out a few local artists from the DC area to perform a one hour and a half set each week.

“The music ranges from hip-hop, to R&B, to ska, to reggae, to funk, to rock. I tried to bring a taste of the city to SMCM, to let kids here know that local artists exist and that there’s more out there than just acoustic guitars,” Schreiber said as she spoke excitedly about the new programs and types of music she plans to bring to St. Mary’s, “I really hope folks get excited about the different sort of sound I’m into.”

Although there will be an influx of outside bands and artists performing this semester, Schreiber still plans to keep local and student artists in the mix at the grind by leaving the first thirty minutes open to student-groups as opening acts for the outside performers.

“All in all there will be less open mic, since I wanted to encourage students to sign up in advance and commit, like a real musical venue would do,” Schreiber said.

In an effort to get students from all disciplines involved in the program she has also considered the idea of commissioning students to create art during the performance and possibly convince them to raffle it off at the end of each show.

The name of the event isn’t the only thing that Schreiber plans to “switch up,” as she hopes to move the location of Thursdays at the Grind around to various spots on campus, including the upper deck, at the lounge at the end of the hall by the breezeway, and hopefully outside on the patio when it gets warmer.

The first Thursday at the Grind, February 5th, turned out to be a huge success with over fifty students attending, and performances from John Haltiwanger, Sarah Weisse and Jack Leathers, Hydröfish, Alec Stone, the Hurley brothers and more. Schreiber encourages everyone on campus to get involved with the new twist on the program and to check out and join the Facebook group.