Past McCormack Endowed Visiting Artist-Scholar Residents
Fall 2015: Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon
Bernice Johnson Reagon, scholar, singer/song leader, and activist for over half a century, has been a profound contributor to African American and American culture. Born in southwest Georgia, her singing style and traditional repertoire are grounded in her experiences in church, school, and political activism. As a composer, she has created a narrative of her social and political activism through her songs and larger compositions. She performed as a member of the SNCC Freedom Singers during the sixties, she founded an all women acapella ensemble, The Harambee Singers, during the Black Cultural Movement. She founded and led the internationally acclaimed Sweet Honey In The Rock for thirty years until retirement.
Toshi Reagon, singer, composer, musician producer, founder and leader of her own ensemble, Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely, has been described as “a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music.” Collaboratively these two master socially conscious women artists have created two operas, “The Temptation of St. Anthony,” and “Zinnias, The Life of Clementine Hunter,” the music score for “Africans in America” on PBS and “BEAH: A Black Woman Speaks” for HBO, and numerous studio recordings. Their latest project is an Opera based on the novel Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. Whenever the opportunity presents, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon join each other on stage in live performance.
Fall 2014: David Lang
David Lang (b. 1957) is a New York-based composer who is active in many genres and media. His piece the little match girl passion, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 and a Grammy Award in 2010. Lang is Musical America's 2013 Composer of the Year and recipient of Carnegie Hall's Debs Composer's Chair for 2013-2014. An active collaborator, he has worked closely with a diverse group of artists including Peter Greenaway, Benjamin Millepied, Susan Marshall, Darren Aronofsky, Ann Hamilton, and Mark Dion. Lang is co-Artistic Director of New York's Bang on a Can, which he founded in 1987 with composers Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, and he is Professor of Music Composition at the Yale School of Music.
Spring 2014: Anne Bogart
Anne Bogart is a prolific and award-winning American theatre and opera director. She is currently Artistic Director of SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Concentration and is the author of three books: A Director Prepares, The Viewpoints Book and And Then, You Act. Conversations with Anne, a collection of interviews she has conducted with various notable artists was published in March 2012. She is the recipient of two OBIE awards, a Bessie Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Recent works with SITI Company include Café Variations (Arts Emerson) and Trojan Women (The Getty Villa), and The Rite with choreographer Bill T. Jones. Bogart’s influence is felt throughout contemporary theatre: through the widespread use of SITI’s training methods of Viewpoints and Suzuki, her oeuvre of groundbreaking productions, and her guidance at Columbia University of such diverse talents as Pavol Liska, Diane Paulus, Kim Weild, Jay Sheib, Darko Tresnjak and many others.
Spring 2013: Karole Armitage
Hailed by some critics as an heir to both George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham, Karole Armitage showcased her new Fables on Global Warming, a 'performance art musical' about sustainability based on traditional animal fables from around the globe. The hour-long work explores the connections between humans and animals, culture and nature, science and art, entwining dance, song, and visual puns with Asian theatrical traditions. [Read more.]
Spring 2012: Angela Brown
Angela Brown personifies the ideal American dramatic soprano: sheer vocal power; luxurious finesse; shimmering, high pianissimos; and a charming personality larger than life. Her highly successful Metropolitan Opera debut in 2004 sparked a media excitement with reviews from The New York Times: "At last an Aida," the Associated Press: "she combines a potent, dusky lower register with a striking ability to spin out soft high notes of shimmering beauty. There's no doubt her voice is powerful enough for Verdi," CBS Evening News: "the future of opera has arrived," and features on the front page of The New York Times and in Oprah Magazine, Essence Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Classical Singer, Reader's Digest, and Psychology Today.
Miss Brown is a trailblazer on a mission to bring operatic and classical vocal performance to a diverse audience. Her witty and inspired recital program titled "Opera... from a Sistah's Point of View" dispels the myths of opera through lively commentary on opera plots and characters, show-stopping arias, poignant art songs and moving spirituals. A live performance of "Opera... from a Sistah's Point of View" was recorded in October 2010 at the Musical Arts Center of Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, and is available for download via Amazon.com and Itunes.com and as a compact disc. "Opera...from a Sistah's Point of View" has been presented throughout the country in concert halls, recital series, schools, community centers and churches and featured on CNN and in print media nationwide.
A noted interpreter of African-American spirituals, Miss Brown produced Mosaic, a collaborative recording featuring spirituals with guitar and piano, in October 2004 that is available from Albany Records. A live Christmas concert with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Indianapolis Opera Chorus was recorded by WFYI-PBS in 2005 and airs on PBS television stations throughout the United States each Christmas season. She guest starred on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor radio show in June 2009. In July 2010, Angela was presented in Shanghai at the World Expo 2010 as a guest of USA Pavilion and the United States Consulate. Angela was the only opera singer invited to perform for the USA Pavilion. She also opened the One Nation Working Together Rally in Washington, DC, by singing the National Anthem on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and was the guest soloist with Marvin Hamlisch for The Indianapolis Prize gala. [Read more.]
Fall 2010: Emanuel AxThe ninth McCormack Visiting Artist-Scholar was world-renowned classical pianist Emanuel Ax. Mr. Ax was in residence at Skidmore October 14-16,2010. While over the past two years the McCormack Resident has operated in collaboration with the First Year Experience (FYE), bringing to campus composer and musician Terrence Blanchard and choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, this year the Office of the Dean of Special Programs has collaborated with the Office of Advancement and the Department of Music in order to dedicate the McCormack Residency to the inaugural year in the Arthur Zankel Music Center. Consequently, during his residency, Mr. Ax worked with music students and faculty and during the dedicatory concert perform solo and chamber music and culminate the festivities with a piano concerto, joined by the Skidmore Orchestra.
Emanuel is renowned not only for his poetic temperament and unsurpassed virtuosity, but also for the exceptional breadth of his performing activity. Each season includes appearances with major symphony orchestras worldwide, recitals in the most celebrated concert halls, chamber music collaborations, the commissioning and performance of new music, and additions to his acclaimed discography on Sony BMG Masterworks.
Born in Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Canada with his family when he was a young boy, later settling in New York City. Studying at The Juilliard School and Columbia University, Mr. Ax captured public attention in 1974 when he won the First Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. Soon afterwards, he won the Michael Award of Young Concert Artists and the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. He made his Sony Classical debut with a collection of Chopin scherzos and mazurkas. Mr. Ax's third volume in the recording cycle of Haydn Piano Sonatas received a Grammy Award in February 2004 – the previous recording in the cycle also won a Grammy. Mr. Ax as well contributed to an International Emmy award-winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Devoted to chamber music literature, Mr. Ax has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, and Jaime Lardo, and he was a frequent collaborator with the late Isaac Stern. Mr. Ax's recent projects have included a duo recital tour with Yefim Bronfman with performances at Chicago's Orchestra Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Carnegie Hall; a performance with Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall; and solo recital tours in both North America and Europe. Recent releases include two discs of two-piano programs with Yefim Bronfman and period-instrument performances of Chopin's complete works for piano and orchestra. For more information, visit www.EmanuelAx.com.
Fall 2009/Spring 2010: Bill T. JonesThe eighth McCormack Visiting Artist-Scholar was multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer Bill T. Jones. Bill was in residence at Skidmore October 25-26, 2009, along with members of his company from October 25-29. Just as in 2008, the McCormack Residency operated in collaboration with the First-Year Experience (FYE) providing curricular, co-curricular, and residential opportunities as part of the year long FYE program, which for the class of 2013, examined the American Presidency. [Read a Scope News article regarding his residency.]
Bill T. Jones has graced the cover of Time and was recently featured in the acclaimed
HBO documentary The Black List. As an artist, Mr. Jones creates groundbreaking interdisciplinary dance pieces that
examine such issues as race, politics, love, aspiration, war and faith. His iconic
choreography and unflinching social provocation have earned him a prominent place
in the history of contemporary performance. On an international scale, his works stimulate
ideas, raise questions, promote public dialogue and bear out his conviction that art
is a catalyst for reflection, engagement and action.
In 2009, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Since its founding by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the Academy has elected as members the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the twentieth. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
He has also won a 2007 Tony Award, 2007 Obie Award and 2006 CALLAWAY Award for his choreography for the Broadway hit Spring Awakening. He is the recipient of the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the 2005 Wexner Prize and the Aaron Davis Hall Harlem Renaissance Award. He is also a MacArthur "Genius" Award recipient in 1994, named one of America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000, and was awarded The 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for reshaping the cultural landscape.
He began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Mr. Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973. Before forming Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, Mr. Jones choreographed and performed nationally and internationally as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane.
In the summers of 1992, 1998 and 2007, Bill T. Jones was in residence with his company at Skidmore College and in 2008, he received an honorary doctorate during commencement.
Fall 2008/Spring 2009: Terence Blanchard
From 1939 to 1975 Blue Note Records signed or recorded just about every notable trumpet player in jazz. It is fitting, but no mere coincidence, as the label celebrates its 70th Anniversary, that its current roster includes one of the most celebrated, influential, and gifted trumpeter-composers of all time: Terence Blanchard.Born in New Orleans, Blanchard began playing trumpet at an early age and was later tutored by legendary jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis before going on to attend Rutgers University on a music scholarship. Time spent performing with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, prepared him to later lead a quintet with Donald Harrison and his ensuing solo career.
Blanchard's work as a film score composer came to fruition through an association with film director and actor, Spike Lee. Initially a soloist on Lee's soundtracks, he has gone on to compose scores for over fifty major motion pictures including: Miracle at St. Anna, Malcolm X, The 25th Hour, Inside Man, Talk to Me, Jungle Fever, Bamboozled, and She Hate Me. His numerous awards for his contributions to film include multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Mo' Better Blues, The Heart Speaks, The Promised Land, and The 25th Hour.
Another collaboration with Lee in 2006 produced the four-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary for HBO, When the Levees Broke. The subsequent album, A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina), garnered the composer a Grammy Award in 2007 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. Requiem is the featured reading for the First-Year Experience.
The trumpeter's other critically acclaimed solo albums include: Simply Stated, Romantic Defiance, Jazz in Film, Let's Get Lost and Wandering Moon. Bounce was released on Blue Note Records in 2003, followed by Flow in 2005, which was produced by legendary pianist Herbie Hancock. Blanchard and Hancock completed a ten-week tour in the fall of 2008. In February, Blanchard received another Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Solo on Be-Bop, of the album Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival. In addition to receiving the award, he performed live at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards telecast in Los Angeles.
Earlier this month Blanchard took part in "Honor: a Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy," presented at Carnegie Hall and curated by legendary soprano Jessye Norman. He is Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance in New Orleans. His latest project Choices, a mix of spoken word, hip-hop, rhythm & blues, and jazz, will feature Cornel West [author, Democracy Matters] and rhythm & blues vocalist, Bilal. The album will be released on Blue Note Records later this year.
Spring 2008: Sir Jonathan Miller
Sir Jonathan MillerSir Jonathan Miller, author, lecturer, humorist, television producer and presenter, and film director was in residence during the spring of 2008. Born in London, he studied natural sciences and medicine at St. John's College at the University of Cambridge and University College London, and went on to work as a hospital doctor after graduating in 1959. He was heavily involved in the university drama society and the Cambridge Footlights, and helped write, produce and star in the legendary comedy revue Beyond the Fringe which helped launch the careers of Alan Bennett, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Sir Miller went on to become the editor and presenter of the BBC's flagship arts programme Monitor, and wrote, produced, and directed various films, operas, and Shakespeare plays. Miller was appointed a Commander of the British Empire in 1983 and knighted for his services to the arts in 2003. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London and Edinburgh, and a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. During the first week of April Sir Miller met with faculty, students, and members of the Skidmore and surrounding Saratoga Springs communities. In addition to a series of films, the following events were offered to the public free of charge: Laughing Matters: Humor & Comedy (a lecture with Jonathan Miller); Film and the Imagination (a panel discussion with faculty and students); and a Conversation with Jonathan Miller (with Skidmore faculty).
Spring 2007: Richard Danielpour
Richard DanielpourIn the spring of 2007 Grammy Award winning composer Richard Danielpour
visited Skidmore on three separate occasions. He is best known for his collaboration
with Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison on the creation and development of Margaret Garner, his first opera. Danielpour and members of the Margaret Garner cast participated in classes and took part in special campus and community events.
Their visit culminated with the presentation of a staged concert performance of selections
from the opera and a post-concert conversation.
Richard Danielpour is one of the most gifted and sought-after composers of his generation. His music has attracted an illustrious array of champions, and, as a devoted mentor and educator, he has also had a significant impact on the younger generation of composers. Danielpour has received commissions from the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia and Stuttgart Radio Orchestras, Orchestre National de France, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and San Francisco, Pittsburgh, National, and Baltimore Symphonies. His work has been championed by Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Dawn Upshaw, Emanuel Ax, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, Gary Graffman, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Guarneri, Emerson, and American String Quartets, and the New York City and Pacific Northwest Ballets. Danielpour's many honors include a Lifetime Achievement Award and Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, a Guggenheim Award, Bearns Prize from Columbia University, and grants and residencies from the Barlow Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Copland House, and the American Academy in Rome. In Fall 2002, he became one of the first recipients of a coveted Alberto Vilar Fellowship and Residency at the American Academy in Berlin.
Spring 2006: Nnenna Freelon
The fourth McCormack Resident, Nnenna Freelon was in residence at Skidmore April 2006.
Freelon, a six-time GRAMMY Award-nominee has earned a well-deserved reputation as
a compelling and captivating live performer. She is a skillful interpreter of even
the most familiar jazz standards and a creative educator. An accomplished singer,
composer, producer, and arranger, Freelon has dedicated herself to educating young
people, both musicians and non-musicians. She toured the United States for four years
as the National Spokesperson for Partners In Education.
Freelon made her feature film debut in the Mel Gibson hit, What Women Want, and sang a remake of Sinatra's classic, "Fly Me To The Moon" for The Visit, starring Billy Dee Williams. She is also a winner of the Eubie Blake Award, and has twice been nominated for the "Lady of Soul" Soul Train Award. Freelon has performed and toured with a veritable who's who in jazz, from Ray Charles and Ellis Marsalis to Al Jarreau and George Benson, among many others. For more information on Nnenna Freelon visit her website at: www.nnennafreelon.com.
Spring 2005: Robert Pinsky
Robert PinskySkidmore College welcomed the third McCormack Resident, Robert Pinsky, to campus in April 2005. Pinsky is an innovative poet who often draws on personal experience and contemporary themes in his work. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States (1997-2000) and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997. While in residence, Robert gave a public reading, collaborated with students and faculty in classes, participated in an open event at the Tang entitled "Favorite Poems About the Heavens", and spent a morning with the Saratoga Springs High School Advanced Placement English students and another morning with Lake Avenue Elementary School first graders.
Fall 2004: Joshua RedmanSkidmore's second McCormack Visiting Artist-Scholar, Joshua Redman, was in residency October 11-15, 2004. Described as "one of the jazz world's most prominent, profound saxophonists," Redman interacted closely with Skidmore students, including a class of saxophonists, the Skidmore Jazz Orchestra, several Skidmore jazz ensembles, a Music Department senior seminar, and a gathering of ALANA * students. In addition, he worked with the Saratoga Springs High School Jazz Orchestra. His schedule included four events open to the public – a CD signing at Borders Books and Music, an open rehearsal, a master class, and a concert. Redman's jam-packed week also included several occasions to collaborate closely with members of the campus and Saratoga Springs communities.
* African-American, Latino, Asian-American, and Native American
Spring 2003: Michael OndaatjeSkidmore launched the McCormack Artist-Scholar Residency in spring 2004 with a highly successful visit by noted author Michael Ondaatje, who gave a public reading, led a discussion about film, met with classes, collaborated with faculty, and participated in a range of small gatherings with members of the campus and Saratoga Springs communities. Perhaps best known as the author of The English Patient, which was made into an Academy Award winning film, Ondaatje is the author of 11 books of poetry and of a number of novels. His latest book The Conversations, explores the art of film editing.