Intercultural Residency Series
2017-2018 Season

The Intercultural Residency Series (ICRS) brings to Brandeis University artists of high accomplishment from around the world. The goal of these residencies is to deepen understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures through exploring artistic traditions, promoting intellectual inquiry, and encouraging cultural

Residency events are open to the community. Open classes across the curriculum provide opportunities to explore culture, society, history, etc with some of the world’s great artists. From gender studies to anthropology, from peace and coexistence to regional studies, from dance to theater, the universal expressive genre of music offers insight to the complexities of human experience. See Fall and Spring Schedules for residency details

Castle of our Skins: Black in Europe

Saturday, November 18 at 8:00 pm
Pre-concert talk at 7:00 pm
Reception following the concert
Bios for Castle of our Skins

Musicians in the concert:

  • Alexis Lanz, clarinet
  • Matthew Vera, violin
  • Shaw Pong Liu, violin
  • Ashleigh Gordon, viola
  • Javier Caballero, cello
  • Joy Cline Phinney, concert piano/collaborator
  • Philip Lima, baritone
  • Renée Baker, conductor, composer

Fall residency schedule Nov. 15 – 18

Black in Europe is a residency in partnership with Castle of our Skins, a Boston–based concert and educational series, and co–sponsored by the Music Department program MusicUnitesUS, that focuses on the stories of black composers and musicians who have had a professional connection with the European Classical music world. The composers may have been born in a European country, had European ancestry, and/or worked extensively in Europe. The residency can also expand the artistic umbrella to other mediums such as writing, visual art, acting, dance, etc. In this vein, additional lectures and events will be designed around and/or expand upon the theme of Black in Europe, enabling the inclusion of influential artists of various disciplines, past and present.

The distinguished guests of the residency will include the founders and artistic directors of Castle of our Skins, Ashleigh Gordon and Anthony Green; acclaimed soloist and Royal Academy of Music professor Chi-chi Nwanoku; composer, conductor, and Berklee College of Music composition professor Julius P. Williams; scholar, pianist and University of Michigan professor Dr. Kira Thurman; and composer, conductor, violist, visual artist and Chicago Modern Orchestra project director Renee Baker.

About Castle of our Skins: Born out of the desire to foster cultural curiosity, Castle of our Skins celebrates black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, Castle of our Skins invites exploration into black heritage and culture, spotlighting unsung and celebrated figures of past and present.

Cycles within Cycles: Javanese Gamelan Tour 2018!

Saturday, March 24 at 8:00pm
Pre-concert talk at 7:00pm with Dr. Henry Spiller, Professor of Music, UC Davis.

Evening Concert: tickets required, general seating. Informal concert experience, informed by local performance practice: traditional food served during the performance.

See a short promo of the 2018 Tour!

Bios for Gamelan Residency

Spring residency schedule March 19–24

For centuries the gong-chime orchestras (gamelan) of Indonesia have been producing some of the world's most beautiful melodies and transfixing sounds. The Central Javanese have cultivated a unique repertory for the gamelan, a music that fosters the spirit of cooperation, elevates performer agency, develops a patient aesthetic in a turbulent world, and rewards both the novice and experienced listener. The gamelan tour is a rare opportunity to experience the full flavor of Javanese music-making in an intimate setting with some of the most revered masters alive today.

Javanese music fuses spontaneous decision-making within an established repertory of pieces. Gamelan chamber music (gadhon) features the more active, elaborating instruments and brings to the fore the ensemble dynamics of klenengan (concert music). The close-knit connections between instrumental lines become prominent and the interpretive powers of the musicians flourish in this setting. The gamelan troupe sponsored by this U.S. tour is similar to a top-notch jazz combo or masterful string quartet.

Hearing a true Javanese klenengan is a truly new experience for an American audience. A concert begins with stately, reflective pieces and progresses toward lively, more joyful selections by the end. Numerous musical decisions are made during performance, bringing out the full, vibrant flavor of Javanese Gamelan. As the event unfolds, a deep sense of attentiveness forms in the musicians and listeners alike, a patient focus that permeates the air, providing a sense of tranquility in the listener, so that they may experience the tensions and relaxations of the music. There is not better respite from the turmoil of daily life than an evening of gamelan.

Within the three spheres of the Javanese musical tradition, dance, shadow puppet plays, and concert music, the later struggles in present-day Indonesia, taking a backseat to more commercially viable music which is faster, louder, and more overt. Since the time when the concert tradition grew, thrived, and experienced a golden age during the mid to late 20 th century, it has been in sharp decline. Performance in the courts, for weddings, and as radio broadcasts, that used to exist on a daily basis have nearly all dried up, and younger musicians almost exclusively perform in shadow plays where they can still make a living wage. As the elder generation slowly passes away, so does its knowledge and skill of the concert repertory. Is this tour the last breath of a still-living beautiful tradition, destined to fade as it loses its connection to social context?