By Ahmed V. Ortiz
The 2019 Festival of New American Music, which runs Saturday, Nov. 2, through Sunday, Nov. 10, will stand as testament to Sacramento State’s commitment to student success.
The 42nd edition of FeNAM, free as always, features an array of the nation’s most acclaimed performers and composers whose music typically strikes chords outside of popular culture. This year, however, brings an intentional focus on connecting students with the guest performers through master classes, workshops, and artist and composer forums. Each of these engages students either through participation or as audience members, said Scott Perkins, co-director of FeNAM with Tim Stanley.
“We’re really trying to emphasize one of the parts of our mission, which has to do with the education of our students right here at Sac State,” Perkins said. “That’s an important thing to us.”
Perhaps the most thrilling opportunity for students comes at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8. Frank Ticheli, a preeminent wind ensemble composer and USC professor, conducts Sac State’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble and University Chorale, which will perform his music at Capistrano Concert Hall. More than 100 students will have access to and be instructed by him, Perkins said. “It’s just a great experience for the students to work with someone of his caliber.”
Also providing top-flight exposure to students is the closing concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, when Grammy-nominated trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas, leads the University’s Jazz Ensembles in a performance at Capistrano Concert Hall.
Douglas’ concert is part of FeNAM’s closing section, which focuses on improvisation and its role in contemporary music. Two other improv specialists, oboist Kyle Bruckmann and bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck, perform Saturday. On Friday, Bruckmann and Schoenbeck will lead an artists’ forum on approaches to improvisation from differing perspectives, exploring improv commonalities and points of departure.
Highlighting Sacramento State’s place in the regional arts scene, a Local Voices concert at 7 p.m. Thursday at Capistrano Concert Hall features work by musicians and composers from the Sacramento area. And potential future Hornets take the spotlight as they inaugurate the festival and compete for three cash prizes in the Pre-College Performers Competition at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, in Capistrano 151. The winner of the top cash prize gets to perform in the Local Voices concert.
A conjoining of music and science comes to Capistrano Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, with “The Sound of Science.” Conceived by composer and bandleader Graham Reynolds, it features seven composers’ compositions (one wrote two pieces) based on the work, and sometimes the lives, of eight scientists, whose disciplines range from climatology to neurology, all performed by famed cellist Jeffrey Zeigler as a multimedia presentation. (Golden Hornet, which bills itself as “a composer lab for the 21st century,” produced the video that accompanies this story.) At 11 a.m. that morning, Zeigler leads a panel with Reynolds and neuroscientist Kristen Harris.
“Considering the intersection of music and science is kind of fun,” Perkins said. “It should be a really interesting program.”
Find more information, as well as a full schedule, on the FeNAM website or by calling 916-278-5155. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Office of University Communications at 916-278-6156.
WHAT: Festival of New American Music
WHEN: Nov. 2-10
WHERE: Sacramento State Music Department venues
ADMISSION: Free for campus community and the public