Wally Tunes 'an Absolute Blast'by Steve Charles • February 24, 2014
- Songwriter and bluesman Gordon Bonham ’80 plays a verse from Blind Willie Johnson's 'Soul of a Man' during his presentation 'Blues Meets the Banjo' at Friday's Fifth Annual Wabash Alumni/Faculty/Staff Symposium, Wally Tunes: A Symposium on Music and the Liberal Arts.
- Indianapolis Association of Wabash Men and event co-organizer President Brad Johnson welcomes guests to Salter Hall and the Fifth Annual Wabash Alumni/Faculty/Staff Symposium, Wally Tunes: A Symposium on Music and the Liberal Arts.
- Associate Professor of Music Peter Hulen, chair of the music department, opened the sessions with his presentation, 'Wally Gets Analytical: What Happens When a Student Dissects Music?'
- 'One of the criticisms I've heard about the 'think critically' part of our mission statement is that we never define critical thinking, but I'm going to do it: Thinking critically is an ability to think systematically about anything, and learning to dissect music analytically teaches students to do just that.'
- Composer, pianist, and singer Philip Seward ’82 discusses 'Musical Storytelling-From Avante-Gard to Contemporary Musical Theater
- 'Reading the works in the Cultures and Traditions class at Wabash kindled the intellectual curiosity that has driven a lot of my work.'
- Violin maker Andrew McKone ’07 detailed 'The Luthier's Craft and and Violin Making in the 21st Century.'
- 'I was four years old when I got my first 'violin,' really a cigar box with a ruler sticking out from it,' McKone recalled. 'The first time I held a violin, I was told over and over, 'Don't drop it,' and that impressed me because the only time I'd heard that before was when I was holding my baby sister. The fragility of the instrument made an immediate impression.'
- Half the fun of the symposium came during reunions between faculty and alumni. McKone enjoyed catching up with his former teacher, Professor of Music Emeritus Larry Bennett.
- 'My four years at Wabash set the hook pretty deep that I was going to go into music,' Bonham said.
- 'The blues isn't usually sad music, but music that gets you out of the blues.'
- Butler University Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Music Eric Stark ’88 guided his audience through the intersection of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem and the poetry of Wilfred Owen.
- Britten infused the War Requiem with incredible levels of meaning in every bar of music, just as in Wilfred Owen's poetry there are layers of meaning at every turn. It is as if the poetry of Owen, on some cosmic level, knew it was going to be inserted into this work by Britten.'
- Rick Fobes ’72, a keyboard player in two Chicago bands, shared his thoughts and insights for 'creating a band, making it successful, and having the time of your life.'
- Composer Allen Schulz talks to the audience before the premiere of two movements from 3 Phantasies, a piece written especially for the symposium.
- Cellist and Visiting Instructor of Music Kristen Strandberg listens to composer Allen Schulz before performing his piece, 3 Phantasies.
- Instructor of Piano Diane Norton, Schulz's piano teacher during his Wabash years, discusses her reaction to 3 Phantasies, Schulz's composition that pays homage to the late Fred Enenbach.
- Norton plays inside the piano during segments of Schulz's 3 Phantasies.
- The teacher congratulates her former student.
Rousing performances by bluesmaster Gordon Bonham ’80, acclaimed world music performer James Makubuya, award-winning composer and singer Phillip Seward ’82, and experimental electronic music pioneer Peter Hulen topped off Friday’s celebration of music at the Fifth Annual Alumni-Faculty-Staff Symposium, Wally Tunes: Music and the Liberal Arts.
But the emotional highlight of the day was the world premiere of 3 Phantasies, composed by B. Allen Schulz ’87 especially for the symposium. Played beautifully by cellist by Kristen Strandberg and pianist Diane Norton, the piece honored Norton, Schulz’s piano teacher during his Wabash days, and her late husband, Fred Enenbach, and earned a standing ovation.
“The symposia we’ve had the last five years have been special in their own way, but none more so than this one,” said Alumni and Parent Programs Director and Interim Dean for Advancement Tom Runge ’72. “Those who missed it missed an absolute blast. And Gordon Bonham’s blues on guitar and banjo at the conclusion of the event worked better than any anti-anxiety medicine you can find. You simply couldn’t listen and not decide life is good!”
The concert in Salter Hall followed an afternoon of presentations on topics including violin making in the 21st century, the economics of the pop music industry, insights on creating a rock band, Duke Ellington at Wabash, musical storytelling, the role of music in the student movement of the 1960s, and a closer look at the lyrics to the songs of that era.
Members of the Wabash faculty made presentations along with luthier Andrew McKone ’07, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Butler University Chorale Conductor Eric Stark ’88, Chicago-based Pioneros Misticos keyboardist Rick Fobes ’72, and Bonham, who spoke about and demonstrated his efforts, funded by an Indiana Arts Council grant, to adapt the five-string banjo to the blues.
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