Award-winning, American composer and conductor Kenneth Fuchs is Professor of Composition at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. He has composed music for orchestra, band, chorus and various chamber ensembles.
The London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, has recorded five discs of Fuchs’s music for Naxos American Classics.
Victor Maog, who is directing the Connecticut Repertory Theatre’sproduction of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” laughs when asked about the expectations people may have after American Theatremagazine cited him as one of the “20 Theatre Professionals to Watch.”
“I’m happy to be in [the magazine],” says Maog, the artistic director of Second Generation Productions in New York City, which cultivates Asian American theater, “but I will back it up with my 20 years of experience. It’s nice to have the spotlight.”
Maog has established a reputation as an award-winning director who bridges the world of theater with diverse communities, audiences, and industries. He has led productions in major institutions in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as non-traditional projects in Chicago’s south side and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His directing work includes plays such as “The Tempest,” “Blood Wedding,” “The Visit,” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” and musical theater including “Spring Awakening,” “Ragtime,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “The Secret Garden.”
“I’m not working any differently [at CRT] than I would in any other place,” he says. “There is the same sort of rigor, same sort of expectation behind it.”
The main challenge, Maog says, is “How do we make the classic also contemporary? How do we make a play we’ve seen one way also inclusive and accessible? Let’s make the Shakespeare of today.”
“Twelfth Night” will be performed from Dec. 3 to Dec. 13. Evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Select matinee performances start at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information go to the CRT website.
Recent graduate Antonio Campelli ’15 (SFA) has been named a winner of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. He is one of just 32 selected from among 916 applicants this year.
As the fourth Marshall recipient in UConn history – and 10th finalist since the 2005-2006 academic year – Campelli joins an impressive lineup of students who have gained the attention of the Marshall selection committee. Of the 10, he is the first to have graduated from the School of Fine Arts: the others have come from a variety of majors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering.
The Marshall Scholarship is Britain’s flagship government-funded program for American students who represent some of the finest and brightest college graduates in the United States. It is named after former Secretary of State George C. Marshall, and was established as a gesture of gratitude to the people of the United States for the assistance the U.S. provided after WWII under the Marshall Plan.
Campelli, who grew up in Tolland, Conn., was home-schooled by his mother in traditional academic subjects. He also learned about wiring a house for electricity and how to shingle a roof while still a pre-teen, guided by his dad and friends from church.
He started picking vegetables for a local farmer when he was 11, took the makings of a greenhouse she offered him, and built his own flower propagation business in his backyard. He used the money he made through this business to start attending Manchester Community College when he was 15.
At the conclusion of “Get Back,” the last song on his band’s final studio release “Let It Be,” John Lennon of The Beatles says sardonically, “I hope we’ve passed the audition.”
His comment was a reference to the times when what became one of the most influential rock ‘n’ roll groups failed auditions while trying to gain a recording contract, in the days before “American Idol” and “The Voice” could jumpstart a successful career in music.
Auditions continue to be part of the music profession – from pop and rock to jazz and classical genres – including UConn’s annual Concerto/Aria Competition which provides the opportunity for students in the music department to perform as soloists in concert with the University’s Symphony Orchestra.
This year’s concert takes place at 8 p.m. on Dec. 10 at J. Louis von der Mehden Recital Hall, featuring performances by graduate student Hyejin Bae, who plays flute, and undergraduates Samantha Lake ’16 (SFA), a tuba player, and Myles Mocarski ’16 (SFA), a violinist.
“It’s a real celebration of the achievements of these particular students,” says Eric Rice, head of the Department of Music. “For all of their professional work as performers, they will have to perform auditions, which can be very stressful. The students who learn not only how to overcome that stress but to perform exceptionally well have the potential to do well in the music business. Our Concerto/Aria Competition audition is a fairly high pressure environment, with three judges sitting in the audience listening to them.”
Twenty students participated in the auditions held in von der Mehden Recital Hall on the afternoon of Halloween, ranging from mezzo-soprano and baritone vocalists to various instrumentalists performing on the piano, trombone, tuba, flute, and bassoon. Each prepared a solo work no longer than eight minutes in length to perform, and could have an accompanist. Often students select a familiar work, one that they have performed for many years.
The Puppet Arts Program is one of the University of Connecticut’s rare treasures. The women’s basketball team consistently makes headlines, but the distance UConn conquers basketball is peanuts to how far it dominates puppetry. Fifth-semester puppet arts major John Cody, whose previous work has included an eight-foot-tall Captain Condom mascot, explains his passion for the art form:
Cody has previously done work “wrangling mascots” for DreamWorks’ “Penguins of Madagascar” at Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Zoo. The job’s duties, Cody said, included “helping the actors put on the costumes, making sure they don’t break, repairing them if they do break, and making sure kids don’t punch them.”
“What’s fun about mascots is they have this element of fantasy to reality,” Cody added. “It’s this totally bizarre thing: a giant penguin who can’t move his face or talk just in the middle of the Bronx Zoo.”
UConn’s Student Health Services approached Cody and puppet arts graduate student Anatar Marmol-Gagne to assemble their “Stall Street News” character Captain Condom. Cody designed a maquette (a miniature model) and then built the full-size mascot while learning along the way.
Baritone Ryan Burns ’12 MM likens the preparation for his performance with the Jessica Lang Dance Co. presentation of “The Wanderer” at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 19 to having the lead role in an opera.
“It’s not something you can put together in a couple of weeks,” Burns says of singing Franz Schubert’s “Die schöne Müllerin” (The Lovely Maid of the Mill), a song cycle of 20 songs sung over an hour. “It’s been a unique challenge to prepare this body of music in such a way that you can maintain all that good technique and language and stay focused. It’s been a challenge, but a really great one.”
A doctoral candidate in music who has performed with the Connecticut Lyric Opera and the Opera Theater of Connecticut, Burns was selected by the contemporary ballet choreographer for the unique joining of dance and classical music that has been described as “a true work of art” by the Boston Globe and “a work of high craftsmanship” by The New York Times.
The University of Connecticut’s Puppet Arts program is the premier puppetry program in the United States. To share that expertise UConn’s School of Fine Arts, Department of Dramatic Arts, is offering a Puppet Arts Online Graduate Certificate that applies the art of puppetry to a wide range of professions, including visual and dramatic artists, teachers in formal and non-formal educational settings, recreation directors, and media and marketing specialists.
The Puppet Arts Online Graduate Certificate provides students with hands-on skills and experience constructing puppets, designing and directing a puppet production and applying puppet arts to a wide range of disciplines and professions. Opportunities for students to apply and share their learnings to discipline-specific applications – whether they are artists, educators, marketing artists, or other professionals – are provided throughout each course.
Brandy Burre had a recurring role on HBO’s The Wire when she gave up her career to start a family. When she decides to reclaim her life as an actor, the domestic world she’s carefully created crumbles around her. Using elements of melodrama and cinema verité, “Actress” is both a present tense portrait of a dying relationship and ex exploration of a complicated woman, performing the role of herself, in a complex-yet-familiar story. It’s a film about starring in the movie of your life.
In the 50 years since legendary puppeteer Frank Ballard started teaching puppetry classes in UConn’s School of Fine Arts, alumni of the Puppet Arts Program have performed on Broadway, in films, on television, and on stages worldwide.
Many of these alums will return to campus this week among the more than 500 puppeteers from across the country and around the world who will attend professional workshops, participate in panel discussions, and present performances as part of the 2015 National Puppetry Festival, kicking off celebrations for the half-century of UConn puppet arts.