Wally Tunes 'an Absolute Blast'by Steve Charles • February 24, 2014
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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