School of Music, Dance and Theatre presents concerto, composition competition winners

November 29, 2022

Each year, the Arizona State University School of Music, Dance and Theatre holds concerto and composition competitions with the aim of providing its top performers and composers the rare and coveted opportunity to perform or have their work performed by a large ensemble. The winners are presented in a concert season beginning Dec. 1, with concert programs built around the winning selections.

“Performing a concerto is a high distinction and honor as there are very few such opportunities for developing artists, and the competition for those opportunities is very high,” said Jeffery Meyer, associate professor and director of orchestras. ASU symphony performing on stage. The ASU Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy the School of Music, Dance and Theatre Download Full Image

The winners of the 2022 ASU Concerto Competition are Leon Jin, bassoon; Angelita Ponce, percussion; and Tzu-I Yang, double bass. Jin and Yang will perform on Dec. 1, and Ponce will perform on Feb. 14, 2023.

Double bassist Yang, born in Tainan City, Taiwan, is a Doctor of Musical Arts student of renowned bassist and pedagogue Catalin Rotaru, who is also a professor at ASU. She graduated from Taipei National University of the Arts with a Bachelor of Music in performance and holds a Master of Music from ASU.

Bassoonist Jin is currently studying with Professor Albie Micklich and will complete his Doctor of Musical Arts in bassoon performance in December. He is a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player and educator. Jin earned his Master of Music at ASU and his Bachelor of Music at Central Washington University.

Percussionist Ponce graduated with a Master of Music in performance from ASU in May. She is an active performer, has played with a wide variety of percussion ensembles and taught percussion in several high school programs in the Phoenix area.

The jury for the concerto competition includes faculty from each music performance area in the school — strings, keyboard, voice, winds, brass and percussion/guitar/harp — with the requirement that they do not have a student in the competition. This year’s members include Julie Desbordes, Philharmonia; Jamal Duncan, Wind Bands; Jonathan Swartz, strings; Christopher Creviston, winds; Josef Burgstaller, brass; Caio Pagano, keyboards; Jiji Kim, guitar/harp/percussion; and Gordon Hawkins, voice. 

In 2020, the large ensemble directors, in collaboration with the composition faculty, created a composition competition to provide the school’s composition students an opportunity to write for orchestra or wind band. The winner has the opportunity to have their compositions workshopped and presented with one of the large ensembles in subsequent concert seasons.

“We aim to provide ASU student composers meaningful opportunities to write new works through this competition as well as foster and encourage the development of innovative new works for large ensembles,” said Meyer.

The 2022 composition winners are Deanna Rusnock, Master of Music in performance, and Carlos Zárate, Master of Music in composition. Rusnock’s piece will be performed on April 24, 2023, and Zárate’s piece will be performed during the 2023–24 season after it is workshopped with the ASU Symphony Orchestra several times throughout the 2022–23 season.

Rusnick graduated from ASU with a Bachelor of Music in theory and composition. She is an accomplished pianist and plays the flute, guitar, violin, viola, bass, drums, accordion, ukulele, trumpet, slide trombone and mallet percussion.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Zárate is currently pursuing a Master of Music in composition at ASU. He writes acoustic and electroacoustic music and is interested in timbre and exploring different ways in which other artistic expressions can foster musical structures.

The 2022 composition competition jury included faculty members Jeffery Meyer, director of Orchestras; Julie Desbordes, music director of Philharmonia; Jason Caslor, director of Wind Bands; Jamal Duncan, assistant director of Wind Bands; and composition faculty Gabriel Bolaños, Fernanda Navarro, Garth Paine, Jody Rockmaker and Alex Temple.

Meyer said the competition fosters creativity and composition skills as well as “an incentive to embark on the daunting adventure of writing for large ensembles.” The students work closely with their composition professors who, along with the large ensemble directors, mentor them throughout the creative process.

2022–23 Concerto and Composition Competition winners’ concerts:

Dec. 1, ASU Gammage — Tickets
Leon Jin, bassoon (concerto winner)
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, “Concerto for Bassoon”
ASU Chamber Orchestra
Tzu-I Yang, double bass (concerto winner)
Frank Proto, “A Carmen Fantasy for Double Bass & Orchestra”
ASU Chamber Orchestra

Feb. 14, ASU Gammage — Tickets
Angelita Ponce, percussion (concerto winner)
Sergei Golovko, “The Russian Marimba Concerto” 
ASU Philharmonia     

April 24, ASU Gammage — Tickets
Deanna Rusnock, piano (composition winner)
“Concerto for the Growing Pianist” performed by ASU faculty Andrew Campbell
ASU Philharmonia

Carlos Zárate, acoustic and electroacoustic (composition winner)
Composition will be workshopped in 2022–23 and premiered in 2023–24 with the ASU Symphony Orchestra.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


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It's never too late to learn

November 28, 2022

In her 60s, Estelle Golden earns master's degree in film and media studies

Estelle Golden is receiving a master's degree in ASU's Film and Media Studies online program

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.

Estelle Golden’s professional life is full.

She’s been an actress in films and plays for more than 35 years. She directs and teaches drama classes at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Washington, just outside of Seattle.

Yet, in her 60s – Golden doesn’t want to give her specific age for fear casting directors will dismiss her as being too old – she decided to pursue a master’s degree at Arizona State University.

OK, that’s not exactly true. It was decided for her.

“So, the school where I work, we got to a point about five or six years ago where they said they want their teachers to have their master’s degree,” Golden said. “So I told my husband, ‘This is going to be expensive.’”

But when Golden started taking classes at ASU the cost became, if not irrelevant, secondary in her mind.

“What started off as, ‘OK, I just have to do this, I have to get through it,’ turned into, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing,’” said Golden, who will graduate in December with a Master of Advanced Study in film and media studies. “ASU has the biggest bang for the buck.”

Golden spoke with ASU News about her late-in-life education and how it’s never too late to learn.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: I know all about acting. I know about creating characters and I know how to direct. But connecting the dots with film studies was something that I hadn’t really delved into. And to be honest, when I was younger and all I was pushed to do was become an actor, school didn’t matter to me very much. And I had a lot of acting opportunities. But now, at this age, I was able to sit back and say, “I want to really understand about feminist film theorists. I want to really understand how film informs how we treat people in our society.” I looked at a number of programs online, I looked at ASU’s faculty, did some research, looked at the classes that were being offered in the program, and it just felt right.”

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU – in the classroom or otherwise – that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: The professors that I’ve had, I feel like I’m an advertisement for the school when I talk about it. I have had incredible people teaching me, and I have become a very deep reader because of it. Instead of skim reading, I’ve really honed skills of mine in terms of writing academic papers that I have never done before. Whenever you are pushing the boundaries of your capabilities it can only help you be better.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Christopher Bradley has, in terms of screenwriting and understanding story, has been phenomenal. I had Katie Brown for the film studies class and she’s a fabulous professor. I’ll be honest. Out of all the faculty I’ve had, I didn’t have one I didn’t like.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students still in school?

A: Stay with it and devote the time you need to get what you can out of this. I think that’s the benefit of being an older student. I truly understand that now. It will benefit you later in life if you devote yourself to really focusing on the task at hand. What you’re learning now, if you really take it in, will help you later.

Q: As an online student, what was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: I have a place upstairs in my house where I have a nice window facing the backyard and I close myself in there. It just created this very secluded but warm environment so there’s nothing distracting.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Continue teaching, acting directing. And writing has become something I am very excited about. I’m working on a full-length screenplay. The idea for this film came to me standing in a very crowded grocery store. The idea of women at a certain age maybe feeling a little bit out of control of their lives and following a certain pathway because they think they’re supposed to, and then coming out of that and maybe taking control back of their lives. It’s kind of a psychological thriller. But it has to do with women who are older — call them of a certain age — that tend to get ignored and pushed to the back.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million after graduation to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: It would either have to be housing or hunger. They’re equally important. Life can’t continue if you don’t feed them. And you can’t go on in life and succeed and be happy without a home to live in.

Top photo by Pixabay.

Scott Bordow

Reporter , ASU News

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November 22, 2022

2023 Emerge festival focused on future of food

What will we be eating in the year 2075? Which of our favorite foods will be off the table? And what can be done to replace concerns about scarcity with the security of emerging resources and solutions?  

These questions and more were explored at Arizona State University’s Emerge 2022: Eating at the Edges — A Festival of Food Futures held Nov. 19 at ASU at Mesa City Center and the Mesa Arts Center. 

Live music served as a backdrop for research exhibits, art and interactive activities designed to give the public food for thought.  

“The vision for Emerge has been to provide the public with imaginative ways to engage with the future and tools to better equip them for thinking about what futures they would like to see come into being,” said Assistant Professor Christy Spackman, director of Emerge 2022. 

The ASU food scholar said this year’s focus on food was fitting.  

“Given the current conversations about climate change, weather and security,” Spackman said, “it is the right time to talk about food.” 

The free, daylong festival was presented by ASU in partnership with the Mesa Arts Center and Leonardo: The International Society for Arts, Sciences and Technology, and showcased many interdisciplinary projects. In total, there were 36 exhibits on display, and the event attracted nearly 1,000 attendees.

The event offered a variety of experiences, including many that engaged the senses, such as: “Something in the Air,” a walk through the festival where participants took in the surrounding smells; “Tasting History: Frybread, Culture and National Identity” and a show called “Improv Comedy and Food Futures.”

“There is a new world emerging,” said Diana Ayton-Shenker, executive director of Leonardo, “and the festival is a taste of how we might experience that.”  

Restaurants, recycled water part of research lineup 

Beyond the fun of the festival there were also research projects on display.  

At Cafe 2057, in a room with a futuristic dome, visitors explored ideas about restaurant menus and how foods may be secured, served and paid for in 35 years. 

The research was led by Chris Wharton, associate professor of nutrition in the College of Health Solutions, with support from the ASU-Starbucks Center for the Future of People and the Planet.  

Miriam Wheeler, an attendee who participated in Wharton’s display, exited the cafe with “a range of emotions.” 

“It is a good thought experiment,” she said. “In some ways, it was scary to think about the loss of foods that have come to be so comforting and the idea of everything being automated. 

“But I am hopeful because we are talking about it.”     

“The Future Taste of Water: What Will Our Water Taste Like in the Future?” exhibit gave attendees the opportunity to truly test the waters.

The interactive booth began with Joe B. Austin, an undergraduate student at the ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering, prompting people to explore their thoughts about reclaimed (sewage) wastewater for cleaning, bathing and, last of all — drinking.  

Attendees had the opportunity to taste reclaimed water alongside several other sourced water samples, and some said they tasted no discernable difference. One observer even liked the reclaimed water but admitted, “I wish they hadn’t told me what it was.”

“CYFEST-14: Ferment” showcased the works of 13 exiled Russian artists and engineers in a thematic media arts exhibition on hybrid fermented environments.  

“We are looking at the fermentation process through the dual lenses of arts and sciences,” said Natalia Kolodzei, curator of the CYLAND Media Art Lab, which co-presented the exhibition. 

In one piece titled “BPM — Blobs Per Minute,” beer bubbled up in a fermentation system that connected to a drum set, generating sound in the snare, cymbal and bass drum, in the lobby of ASU’S Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center.

Just outside of the MIX Center, attendees learned to grow edible food in “Humanities Lab: Food Justice for the Youth by the Youth” display.

A nearby booth called “Indoor Farming” featured romaine, bok choy, basil and more growing in a vertical garden with multi-colored LED lights regulating the plants’ shape, architecture, flavor and nutrition. The researcher, Yujin Park, assistant professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, demonstrated how vertical farming can save 90% of the water used in conventional farming and yield 10 times the crop.  

“I think this is the future of Arizona’s food security,” festival-goer Ed Ranger said. “It should be the No. 1 one priority for the state of Arizona.” 

Reporter , ASU News

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ASUniverse to offer immersive campus experiences in the metaverse

November 18, 2022

The campus of the future is here.

Students at Learning Futures are building a virtual replica — also known as a digital twin — of Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, with plans to expand in the near future. They’re calling it the ASUniverse, and designing it to connect fellow students in the metaverse.

Teams at Learning Futures, which is part of ASU Enterprise Technology, focus on exploring and designing immersive learning experiences three to five years into the future. 

The student-led collaborative effort aims to blur the lines between the physical and digital environment by allowing students to participate in campus tours, events and classes in an immersive experience from anywhere with access to the internet. 

“It's part of this human evolution that's going on where we're becoming integrated with our technology,” said Jesse Murdock, a graduate student studying architecture and a digital twin specialist at Learning Futures. “Our technology is just an extension of ourselves that allows us to connect at a level that brings the world closer.”

The ASUniverse is a digital twin — an evolving, virtual representation of the physical environment influenced by data collected on campus. Soon, Sun Devils will be able to explore the breathtaking architecture, the cutting-edge classrooms and even the Southwest landscape from anywhere in a real-time, 3D experience.

“Digital twins and online worlds like Roblox, Minecraft and Meta Horizons are changing how we live, work and play online,” said Dan Munnerley, executive director of Learning Futures. “This paradigm shift towards real-time 3D holds a great opportunity for education. Our students already inhabit these worlds, so who better to design the online campus of the future than our learners?”

Video by Alisha Mendez

“This digital space will allow you to do and see all the things in the physical world — plus more,” said Toby Kidd, director of studios at Learning Futures. “Like the ability to travel to locations where you normally wouldn’t be able to go, whether it is because of limited access or limited funding.”

One recent development project focused on bringing Zoom into the ASUniverse. This was inspired by the launch of the Zoom Innovation Lab at ASU in October.  

Using avatars, virtual guests will be able to navigate throughout the ASUniverse and, at designated virtual Zoom kiosks, connect via live Zoom meetings with real people such as professors, TAs and other student services personnel. The Zoom room acts as a window to the physical world for those in the ASUniverse, allowing students to connect their avatars with real people in the metaverse. 

This project is an innovative example of bridging the physical and virtual worlds.

“There's a really strong sense of community here on campus,” said Kidd. “And if you are a remote student, the ability for you to connect on campus through a virtual experience is a really awesome opportunity.” 

What’s more, the ASUniverse can adapt and change in real time — from the clouds in the sky, to the time of day and even the number of people in the area — all with the click of a mouse. Development tools like Unreal and Unity are being used to make this possible.

We can use a digital twin to do shadow studies and decide where we should put our solar panels for new buildings, for example,” said Murdock. “We can start to answer how we can create more sustainable systems based on what is already here.”

While the ASUniverse is not yet open, this is only the beginning. In the meantime, ASU students will continue to gather data and take broad steps toward creating a digital future that blends the physical and virtual worlds to create greater access to learning from around the globe. 

“We don't know what the world is going to look like in three to five years, but you put out a target and you work toward that,” Kidd said. “The potential for virtual spaces is limitless.” 

Written by Kevin Pirehpour

Top photo: Teams at Learning Futures, which is part of ASU Enterprise Technology, focus on exploring and designing immersive learning experiences, which aim to blur the lines between the physical and digital environment by allowing remote students to participate in campus tours, events and classes. Photo by Kevin Pirehpour

PRISMS festival features world-premiere compositions, international artists, composers

November 16, 2022

The PRISMS 2022 annual festival for experimental music features new compositions and music that is rarely performed, along with pre-concert talks, roundtables and film screenings.

Highlights of this year’s four-day contemporary music festival include 10 world premieres by guest artists, Arizona State University faculty and student composers, and distinguished international guest artists and composers. The Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble and three graduate student composers. Download Full Image

“The PRISMS festival has always provided opportunities for students to perform, but this year we also sent out an internal call for proposals to our composition students to receive commissions,” said Gabriel Bolaños, assistant professor in ASU's School of Music, Dance and Theatre and co-coordinator of the festival.

The opening concert of the festival features two of the graduate student commission premieres alongside works by composers Laura Toxvaerd and Karlheinz Stockhausen, as well as Olivier Messiaen’s 20th-century classic “Oiseaux Exotiques,” which features piano soloist Gabriele Baldocci.

Three graduate student composers were selected to write new pieces for the festival: Myles Kellerman, Sofía Matus Cancino and José Eduardo Orea Dominguez.

“The commissions provided the students an opportunity to create new compositions and work with an ensemble and conductor to have the work performed at the festival,” said Simone Mancuso, faculty associate in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and co-coordinator of the festival.

The students had only 30 days to compose their pieces. Due to the short timeline for composing and putting the piece together, Mancuso said, some of the works have a more open structure and are more improvisational.

“The goal is to have the students explore new things,” Mancuso said.

The student compositions range from a graphic notation work to a textural work that includes speech and a work for amplified saxophone quartet.

The second concert features a new commission by Haitian-born composer Hendel Almétus, assistant professor of practice at the University of the Pacific. Almétus’ piece, “Luminous,” is scored for a saxophone quartet and based on a collection of paintings by visual artist Alan Klinger. Considered somewhat of an underground artist, Klinger is someone whose paintings are not easily viewable to the public. Almétus and Klinger will give a pre-concert talk to discuss the new work inspired by Klinger’s art. Almétus’ sax quartet is paired with graduate student composer Orea Dominguez’s new saxophone quartet, which explores amplification and resonance of the saxophone quartet.

The concert also features works by ASU graduate composition student José Eduardo Orea Dominguez, composer Amy Dunker and ASU faculty composers Jody Rockmaker, associate professor, and Alex Temple, assistant professor; and a world premiere of a piece by Gabriel Bolaños. Guest performers include Robert Spring and Crossing 32nd Street Ensemble.

The third and fourth concerts feature five world premieres of electronic music composed for performances in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering’s Ambisonic Dome. Three commissioned works are by renowned composers Elainie Lillios, Tito Rivas and Sarah Belle Reid, and two works are by ASU faculty composers Garth Paine and Bolaños. The guest composer commissions are made possible by a Herberger Institute research and development grant Bolaños received, with additional support from the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. Due to limited audience space in the dome, the concert program will be repeated on Dec. 2 and 3.

Bolaños said most of the guest artists and composers will attend the festival concerts in person.

PRISMS was founded in 2009 by Mancuso and Glenn Hackbarth.


2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20
Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) and guests
Katzin Concert Hall
Free admission

The concert program features three world premieres by ASU graduate composition students Myles Kellerman and Sofía Matus Cancino, alongside works by Laura Toxvaerd and Karlheinz Stockhausen and Olivier Messiaen’s 20th century classic “Oiseaux Exotiques,” featuring piano soloist Gabriele Baldocci.

Sofia Matus Cancino: “Wake Windows” (10’) (world premiere). For ensemble, electronics.
Laura Toxvaerd: “Cacklecabin” (10’). For five instruments and live electronics.
Myles Kellerman: “It's a Zang, Zang, Zang, Tumb World” (10’) (world premiere). For ensemble.
Karlheinz Stockhausen: “Komet” (15’). For electronics.
Olivier Messiaen: “Oiseaux Exotiques” (16’) with piano soloist Gabriele Baldocci. For piano and small orchestra.
Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble.

7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21
ASU faculty and guest compositions
7 p.m. pre-concert talk with composer Hendel Almétus and visual artist Alan Klinger
Katzin Concert Hall
Free admission

The concert program features works by guest composer Hendel Almétus, graduate composer José Eduardo Orea Dominguez and Amy Dunker, alongside ASU faculty composers Jody Rockmaker and Alex Temple and a world premiere by Gabriel Bolaños. Featured performers are Robert Spring and Crossing 32nd Street Ensemble.

Jose Eduardo Orea Dominguez: student composition work #3  (10’) (world premiere). ASU saxophone quartet.
Rockmaker: “Odd Combinations” (10’). Two keyboards.
Alex Temple: “Blurry Line” (7’).
Hendel Almétus: “Luminous” (10’) (world premiere, commissioned for the PRISMS festival). ASU saxophone quartet, with Christopher Creviston.
Amy Dunker: “Storm Warning” (7’). Robert Spring, clarinet.
Gabriel Bolanos: “Strobe” (7’) (world premiere with support from the Arizona Commission on the Arts). For percussion quartet.
Crossing 32nd St. Ensemble.

6 and 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2
2 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 
DOME concerts
Arts, Media and Engineering Ambisonic Dome, Stauffer Communication Arts B

The concert program features five new world-premiere works, including three commissions from renowned composers Elainie Lillios, Tito Rivas and Sarah Belle Reid and two new compositions by ASU faculty Garth Paine and Gabriel Bolaños. Seating is limited, so the same program will be presented both days.

Elainie Lillios: “Ice Fields.”
Sarah Belle Reid: “Sublimate.” 
Tito Rivas: “La oreja y el caracol” (The Ear and the Snail).
Garth Paine: "Float.”
Gabriel Bolaños: “Plink.”

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


Emerge event showcases art, science you can sink your teeth into

November 16, 2022

With a variety of interactive installations, researchers, entertainment and vendors, Emerge 2022: Eating at the Edges aims to provide more than just food for thought. 

The festival, to be held on Nov. 19 in Mesa, will explore the concept of eating in a world of environmental extremes.  Emerge 2022: Eating at the Edges will take place in Mesa on Nov. 19. Download Full Image

The event is presented by entities from within Arizona State University and the city of Mesa, including the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Mesa Arts Center. Festivities begin at noon and run until 7 p.m. at the Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center in downtown Mesa. Admission for the festival is free. 

“Emerge is all about helping people imagine and experience their futures,” said ASU Assistant Professor Christy Spackman, organizer for this year’s Emerge. “We’re showing the future of food in more than 40 exhibits, which range from hands-on workshops to live music themed around the structure of a meal.” 

2022 marks the ninth edition of Emerge, which experienced a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Experiences at this year’s festival include food art installations, Mesa Arts Center’s MABEL (Mobile Arts Based Engagement Lab) and film screenings. One such art installation, the Pixel Plate, is a student-led conceptualization of a potential future kitchen appliance. In this imagined future, the kitchen appliance would take meal tickets and then 3D print edible meals such as “Dune donuts” and “Dalek dumplings.” 

“We’re imagining the future in a very conceptualized way with the Pixel Plate,” said Kassidy Breaux, a graphic information technology lecturer who worked with students to create the Pixel Plate. “Nothing at the exhibit is edible, but it explores just one possibility of what the future of food could look like.” 

In addition to art, Emerge will feature musicians Sophie and Alex Dorsten, Izzy Mahoubi and band, Vaughn Willis and Ear Candy, and the Gustavi Angeles Band. All performances will take place on the Alliance Pavilion Stage. Also featured at the festival is improv from the Neighborhood Comedy Theatre, which will perform three sets throughout the event. And no food festival would be complete without food trucks and vendors, which will be set up across the festival site.

“We have artists coming from Australia and Ukraine — Indigenous chefs who bring their knowledge to the table,” Spackman said. “We are all here together to experience how our past and present can influence our futures.”

Katelyn Reinhart

Communications specialist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory

ASU's Visiting Quartet Residency Program announces Brooklyn Rider as resident artists

November 16, 2022

Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre welcomes the members of the critically acclaimed Brooklyn Rider as the 2022–23 resident artists in the school’s prestigious Visiting Quartet Residency Program.

Known for playing both eclectic and contemporary repertoire and for collaborating with musicians from outside the classical music sphere, Brooklyn Rider has been hailed as “the future of chamber music” by Strings magazine. Four musicians in black suits stand against a white brick wall Brooklyn Rider has been hailed as “the future of chamber music” by Strings magazine. Download Full Image

Each year the School of Music, Dance and Theatre chooses a different major professional string quartet for the Visiting Quartet Residency Program.

“The opportunity to study with a professional ensemble allows students to see the collaborative process from the inside out — including the way the quartet communicates, rehearses, performs, manages and prioritizes its schedule,” said Jonathan Swartz, professor of violin and artistic director and founder of the program.

Unique among music schools nationwide, ASU’s resident artists serve as teachers and work with students through master classes, coaching and on projects designed to form the basis of the chamber music curriculum. Over the course of a four-year undergraduate degree, students will have had the opportunity to study with four different professional string quartets, while covering all the major pillars of chamber music literature.

Brooklyn Rider members are Johnny Gandelsman, violin; Colin Jacobsen, violin; Nicholas Cords, viola; and Michael Nicolas, cello.

Brooklyn Rider will perform three unique concerts centered around the four elements — earth, air, fire and water — as a musical expression to bring awareness to the beauty of our world, while reminding us of current challenges regarding climate and sustainability.

The quartet assembled a program of works created or collected within the last century of unprecedented planetary change. Anchored by four works symbolically representing each element, the quartet asked four composers to write new works that reflect current realities and serve as a musical call to action.

Air is represented with Henri Dutilleux’s “Ainsi la nuit;” fire is Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8; water is Osvaldo Golijov’s “Tenebrae;” and earth is a suite of American folk songs collected by Ruth Crawford Seeger, arranged by Colin Jacobsen.

Brooklyn Rider “Four Elements” concerts

7:30 p.m. Nov. 18
“Fire and Water”
Katzin Concert Hall 

Akshaya Tucker: “Hollow Flame”
Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 (fire)
Conrad Tao: “Undone”
Osvaldo Golijov: “Tenebrae” (water)

7:30 p.m. Feb. 1
Katzin Concert Hall

Dan Trueman: “Under My Feet”
Osvaldo Golijov: “Um Dia Bom”
Schubert: String Quartet in D Minor, D.810 “Death and the Maiden”

7:30 p.m. April 5
“Earth on Fire”
ASU Symphony Orchestra and Brooklyn Rider
ASU Gammage

Ruth Crawford Seeger: “Rissolty Rossolty”
Ruth Crawford Seeger: Songs (world-premiere arrangements by Colin Jacobson)
Michael Abels: “Global Warming”
Osvaldo Golijov: “Tenebrae” for string quartet
Gabriela Lena Frank: “Contested Eden”
“Ascending Bird” (traditional Persian song)

7:30 p.m. April 6
Katzin Concert Hall
Tickets will soon be available here

Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 2
Andreia Pinto Correia: “Aere senza stelle”
Henri Dutilleux: “Ainsi La Nuit” (air)
Kyle Sanna: “Sequence for Minor White”

Collaboration with the ASU Symphony Orchestra.

For the April 5 concert, tickets are available for $12 at the ASU Gammage Box Office or can be purchased online at Ticketmaster (fees apply). All students with ASU, college or school ID receive one complimentary ticket, and all Hergberger Institute for Design and the Arts faculty and staff receive two complimentary tickets. Complimentary tickets can be picked up at the box office prior to the event and during all normal business hours.

All Herberger Institute students, faculty and staff and Mirabella residents are eligible for complimentary tickets to most events ticketed through the Herberger Institute box office. Click buy tickets to obtain your complimentary tickets using your 10-digit ASU ID as the promo code.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


Dance students collaborate with faculty members, guest artists on original work

November 16, 2022

Audiences will have the chance to see original work by Arizona State University dance faculty members and guest artists in this year’s “Fall Forward” performances.

Mary Fitzgerald, artistic director of dance and professor at ASU, said faculty members often present their work nationally and internationally, but “Fall Forward” offers the opportunity for dance students to collaborate directly with their professors on work that is presented here at ASU.  Six dancers pose on the diagonal steps of the ASU Art Museum, the lines of their leg matching the line of the architecture ASU dance students pose on the steps of the ASU Art Museum. Photo by Tim Trumble Download Full Image

“What’s different about this show is we are trying to highlight student dancers,” Fitzgerald said. “Our faculty and guest artists created choreography for and with student dancers.”

The pieces are performed by undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty members. Students collaborated with faculty members on the choreography.

"I appreciated the opportunity to work with my professors in a setting outside the classroom and to see their creative ideas come to life," said Kyla Kabat, a BFA student in dance. "This process involved student-generated movement that was then artistically formulated and directed by the faculty themselves."

The performances showcase the variety of styles and range of talent in the dance program at ASU. Fitzgerald will present an excerpt from her longer work “Haikeus,” a Finnish word meaning simultaneous sadness and gratitude. It explores responses to environmental crises caused by climate change. Her dancers lay buckwheat rows across the stage, then perform through and use the wheat as a part of the piece. Fitzgerald said she thinks of it as an eco-event. 

“We’re going to transform the space into an immersive environment,” Fitzgerald said. 

The full, evening-length piece will be completed and presented in 2023 as part of a collaborative project with ASU professors Scott Cloutier from the School of Sustainability, Galina Mihaleva from the School of Art and Barry Moon from the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies.

Guest artists Sai Pratyusha Gutti and Sumana Sen Mandala will present a traditional dance genre of Bharata-Nrityam. This tillana is composed and choreographed by Sumana’s guru, Padma Subrahmanyam. Mandala said she was liberated by the pedagogical style of Subrahmanyam and the combination of holding important knowledge that has come down through generations and the sense of playfulness encouraged by her guru's innovations.

“I take joy in passing on that same sense of freedom to my own students who are growing up much as I did in the U.S.: as girls, as children of immigrants, as seekers of the bridge between their American and Indian lives,” she said. “All the while, the idea of ‘rasa’ — juice, essence, flavor — anchors our performance with the call to be responsible to our audience and for our audience to respond through deep engagement.”

Carley Conder, clinical assistant professor of dance, will be presenting two pieces in the concert. Her own piece, inspired by Salman Rushdie’s text “Fury,” features 10 ASU dancers, from first-year to graduate students.

“This work investigates the power of human emotion and the lengths we go to harness and contain this power,” Conder said. “The movement material we have been developing collaboratively explores strength, speed, contrast and complexity.”

Conder will also be dancing a solo created by guest artist Keith Johnson as part of his SERIES collection.

“SERIES is a collection of solos that uses the same material but is performed to different scores with an emphasis on different elements within the structure of the dance,” Johnson said. “The collection of dances touches upon ideas of family, death, environment, race, religion and the LGBT community.”

The performances present not only a broad range of topics but a variety of dance styles as well. Guest artist and ASU alumna Coley Curry, along with Julio Saran, will showcase a dance film featuring New Style Hustle.

“We’re excited to share this film with the Arizona community because not a lot of people here are familiar with this dance and its history,” Curry said.

The hustle is a social dance that began in the South Bronx in the 1970s during the disco era, created by Puerto Rican teens at house parties and club dance scenes. In 2010, dancer Jeff Selby created New Style Hustle. 

“It’s an evolution of that original partner dance that is usually done to house music,” Curry said. “But now it has reached all genres of music, including hip-hop, R&B and beyond.”

For the music in the film, they collaborated with artist Daniel Suun (formerly known as Solo Woods). Suun and Coley originally met while students at ASU during Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute

In addition to Curry and Saran’s work, Clinical Assistant Professor of dance Jorge “Bboy House” Magana will also present a dance film. He said he wants his piece to remind audiences to treat each other with love and respect.

“I hope to share the connection and feelings we all have at some point in our life to feel like an outcast — and to speak for those that still feel that way,” Magana said. “We often see folks doing good and forget about the challenges and systems put on us and how we fit into those systems. So when you see an outcast, remind yourself and ask yourself: Am I an outcast?”

Audiences can experience each of these pieces at “Fall Forward,” presented Nov. 18–20 at the Galvin Playhouse Theatre on the Tempe campus. Tickets must be purchased in advance through the Herberger Institute Box Office.

Lacy Chaffee

Media and communications coordinator, School of Music, Dance and Theatre


ASU students float new idea for event security

Industry collaboration between the ASU Luminosity Lab and Axon leads to innovative Guardian Balloon system for campus and football game safety

November 15, 2022

When you're headed to a football game, you’re usually looking forward to the action on the field or enjoying time with your friends. But if you're going to Arizona State University's Homecoming game on Saturday, Nov. 19, take a minute to look up on your way there. You may notice a set of large balloons equipped with innovative technology created by a team of top ASU students.

These balloons, known as Guardian Balloons, are the result of a collaboration between Scottsdale-based safety technology company Axon and ASU students from the Luminosity Lab, a student-led research and development lab based in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The students worked with Axon professionals to come up with new ways to help secure large college campuses like ASU and university events such as football games. Three people work on cables and a camera assembly underneath a large balloon. Arizona State University Luminosity Lab Director Tyler Smith (left), aerospace and mechanical engineering senior Hatvi Thakkar (right) and Axon Senior Program Manager Jake McElroy (back) test the camera payload of a Guardian Balloon, a new security tool developed by Luminosity Lab students in collaboration with safety company Axon. ASU football game attendees may notice these balloons as the team tests them for use in situational awareness applications. Photo by Alexander Chapin/ASU Download Full Image

This effort is part of a larger experiment to create comprehensive security for the 21st century, says Karl Schultz, vice president and head of Taser robotics at Axon. ASU students' contributions are an integral part of the development process.

“Luminosity’s strengths are being able to take those large, real-world problems, break them down and develop solutions that cross different discipline boundaries and barriers,” says Tyler Smith, director of Luminosity Lab. “And by doing that, they are able to come up with one of the best possible solutions for the problem.”

Challenging problem

Large, open environments like ASU's Tempe campus pose big security challenges, which the Axon and Luminosity Lab team have been learning about from Dave Ellis, founder of GEMSEC Consulting.

Security teams must find a balance between public access and mitigating potential threats in these spaces. Ellis says solutions that enhance situational awareness over wide areas are one way to increase security without hindering people’s experiences.

“Having situational awareness and tools like the balloons that will allow you to be more efficient in monitoring your environment are really beneficial for not only stopping things before they happen, but should something happen, it gives those decision-makers more tools in their toolbox,” Ellis says.

Creative solution

The Luminosity Lab and Axon team is developing a flexible situational awareness tool that rises to meet security challenges.

The Guardian Balloons are helium-filled, tethered balloons equipped with cameras that capture 4K, high-resolution video. Multiple balloons launched to heights of around 60 to 100 feet can work together as one system to get a full view of an area like Sun Devil Stadium and the surrounding areas. Security teams can pan, tilt and zoom in on the video feed to watch for potentially dangerous situations that need attention.

The students have been working with the ASU Police Department to get feedback about the concept and capabilities safety agencies are interested in, Smith says. The department's support in combination with Axon’s expertise has helped the team operationalize the Guardian Balloon technology for use in real-world settings like Sun Devil Stadium.

“The biggest challenge was the stability of the balloons to give a proper video feed that is useful for police officers,” says Jake McElroy, a senior program manager at Axon who has been working with the Luminosity Lab students during the project's development. “The ASU team has done a fantastic job in countering these challenges using video stabilization, balloon redesign and alternative methods such as a hard mount.”

A large white balloon with Arizona State University printed on it, pictured in front of a building on the ASU Tempe campus.

The Guardian Balloons are helium-filled balloons that can be set up around an event. They can provide security teams a bird’s-eye view of a wide area to watch for potentially dangerous situations and quickly send help. Photo by Alexander Chapin/ASU

While balloons seem low-tech, they have advantages over helicopters and drones, which are typically used to get a bird's-eye view of events. Comparatively, the balloons are quieter and cheaper, have fewer restrictions and are easier to use.

They’re also very scalable — additional balloons can be launched and integrated into the system from almost anywhere in as little as 20 minutes — which makes them better suited for scenarios in which hard-mounted cameras and the infrastructure they require are not optimal. Guardian Balloons can be powered by wired electrical and internet connections, or a battery and wireless connection to further increase the flexibility of the design.

“The ease of deployment and flexibility of location that comes with this (solution) pushes us to explore balloons as a new avenue for safety and event security,” says Ananay Arora, a computer science graduate student in the Fulton Schools who has been leading the Guardian Balloons’ software development. “The low cost while delivering much higher-quality video also makes it a big win.”

Interdisciplinary industry collaboration

Developing a situational awareness system for a complex security landscape requires a wide range of skills and expertise. The eight Luminosity Lab students who have worked on the project so far are undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of degree programs, including computer science, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, business and industrial design.

Jacob Mansur, a junior in the industrial design program at The Design School at ASU, says he has used all of the fundamental skills he learned from his coursework and even picked up new skills through his work on the project.

“With Luminosity, I’ve been given more mentorship than I’d typically have in a class, and it has really helped me with understanding what is expected once I graduate with my bachelor’s degree,” Mansur says.

Companies, students and more than 400 ASU labs and facilities are brought together to solve problems and achieve concrete solutions by ASU Knowledge Enterprise's Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships.

“We work with all industries and all capabilities,” says Jon Relvas, business development director of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships.

A group of four people from ASU and Axon work on camera technology and balloon on top of the Memorial Union building on the ASU Tempe campus.

ASU Luminosity Lab Director Tyler Smith (front), Axon Senior Program Manager Jake McElroy (back left), Axon Vice President Karl Schultz (back center) and ASU undergraduate student Hatvi Thakkar conduct a test of the Guardian Balloons from the top of the Memorial Union building on ASU's Tempe campus in early October. Photo by Alexander Chapin/ASU

Through Corporate Innovation Labs, Relvas says that “companies see the hands-on work that these brilliant students can do and develop, and exposes the corporations to a win-win situation: The students get experience, and at the same time, the companies may create new solutions and IP (intellectual property), something that can go to the commercial market and gets applied to real-world challenges.”

Schultz, who was a professor of practice in the Fulton Schools before joining Axon, has been impressed by the diversity of perspectives and skills the students have brought to the project and what they’ve achieved in a short amount of time.

“ASU students and the Luminosity Lab are very experienced at rapid prototyping, at practical engineering and manufacturing, not just writing a bunch of equations and saying we solved the problem,” Schultz says. “ASU really emphasizes that throughout the curriculum, and it shows in the quality of work we get from these programs.”

In addition to getting cost-effective, innovative solutions and leveraging the creativity and passion of the students, collaborations such as the Guardian Balloons project are effective workforce development activities.

“Through this project, I was able to design models based on industry standards,” says Hatvi Thakkar, an aerospace and mechanical engineering senior who designed simulation models to test the balloon’s performance in various environmental conditions. “I also learned a lot about various manufacturing techniques for the components used in the assembly of the balloon.”

Success with more to come

McElroy has been impressed by the team’s ability to overcome challenges and improve the Guardian Balloons’ performance.

“When given operational feedback, the team can create a product within days to weeks that mirrors the requirements from Axon,” McElroy says. “This type of turnaround has allowed the team to stay on track to success.”

Their solution is nearing new heights in the development of a non-intrusive and effective way for security teams to quickly notice threats, analyze the situation and respond.

“I think the students came up with a great system that is effective, efficient, scalable, affordable and easily deployable,” Ellis says. “Oftentimes you don’t get all of that in a solution. And it solves not only the challenge of creating great situational awareness, but it has other applications.”

The students are also planning ways to make the balloons a fun presence at ASU events, from using LED lights that can add to the spectacle to other helpful capabilities such as wayfinding features.

For now, it's a rewarding experience for the Luminosity Lab students to see their solution in action at an ASU football game and to know there are bigger possibilities on the horizon.

“My team and I feel incredibly positive about what we’re doing,” Arora says, “which is using our engineering skills to build something that keeps the ASU community safe.”

Video by Alexander Chapin and Jerrell Ayran

Sandra Keaton Leander, assistant director of media relations at ASU Knowledge Enterprise, contributed to this story.

Monique Clement

Lead communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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Past meets future: Humanities students engage with WWI history through virtual reality

November 15, 2022

“Welcome to the front line of the war.”

Looking around, students in Victoria Thompson’s HST 130 course, The Historian’s Craft, found themselves in No Man’s Land: the treacherous, muddy tract besieged by shelling that separated the Allied and German trenches during World War I.

“Put yourselves in the mindset of a soldier who has just arrived. Think about your motivation for joining up. What do you think about what you see around you?”

To help students prepare for an essay assignment based on letters by WWI German soldiers, Thompson arranged to immerse her class in the soldiers’ world. Through the use of Oculus Quest virtual reality (VR) headsets and hand-held controllers, the students had the unique opportunity to engage with WWI history in a simulated environment.

Thompson’s course was the first application of VR technology in a humanities course at Arizona State University and an inaugural in-class test of Huddle, a new instructional tool developed by an ASU student-led, student-run team at Learning Futures. With Huddle, 5G and cloud infrastructure enables groups of up to 13 students at one time to share the virtual space. Students are guided through an instructor-led experience, interacting with one another and 3D objects in a virtual setting.

As her students sat around tables in ASU’s Creative Commons, Thompson guided them through the lesson using a fact-filled narrative script, prompting deeper investigation and personal inquiry as they explored WWI terrain, examined a German uniform and studied a variety of artifacts, including weapons and artillery.

“I asked them questions about the objects and how the objects helped them understand the experience of the soldiers on the front lines,” said Thompson.

The students responded verbally during the lesson and later incorporated their perceptions and the connections made during the experience into their essays.

“Being able to get a more in-person look at certain objects can help understand what people back then might've been feeling or what they had to go through,” said Nathan LeFort, a history secondary education student enrolled in the course.

LeFort expounds on the benefit of re-creating a time period or subject and encouraging a student to virtually step into the shoes of someone from another era or culture, saying, “Especially for someone who is so into history, being able to get an up-close view on what you'd never get to before is, in my opinion, invaluable as an experience,” adding, “I think it could definitely be put to more use in other humanities classes in the future.”

The interactive experiences made possible by Huddle visualization tools provide opportunities for students in any field of study to connect with objects and activities that would not otherwise be possible in traditional settings.

“What’s most exciting to me is the accessibility it can afford, placing people within very specific contexts that they might not have been able to visit due to financial barriers, geographic barriers or other kinds of social or economic barriers,” said Olivia Hernández, creative manager at the Learning Futures Emporium.

“When we enter a museum, there's this sort of precious scarcity mindset where you can't get too close, and you can't touch anything,” but Huddle — operating in line with ASU’s charter — is “defined by whom we include, not by whom we exclude.”

This is emphasized by Thompson, who explains that seeing and virtually handling artifacts placed in context by an instructor evokes a strong emotional reaction, giving students a window into what people in the past may have felt or thought as they experienced something like going to war.

“It is possible to use other sources, such as written accounts, photographs or films, to develop this sense of ‘historical empathy’ — an ability to relate on a personal level with people in the past — but the VR experience seemed to accomplish this in a very different and memorable way.”

The Historian’s Craft course introduces students to the ways historians ask questions and propose answers, but the possibilities for using Huddle technology in other humanities classes abound.

Toby Kidd, director of Learning Futures Studios, says, “For something like the humanities, you’re dealing with a discipline that’s focused on the storytelling of lived experiences,” which Huddle is ideally situated to complement.

“We don't just want to put tech in the hands of instructors and students for the sake of doing it; this is intended to reinforce learning, to be tied to learning outcomes, so the pedagogy can shine through,” Kidd said.

To this end, all of the guild and project teams at Learning Futures are academically diverse student groups.

“It's important that students are the creators of these experiences because they are the workforce of tomorrow, they are in classrooms right now and they can see how they would benefit from having this in their current experience,” Kidd said.

Amanda Federico, the student project manager for the team, praised the student involvement in the instructional tool.

“Huddle's success is almost entirely due to the involvement of students because we're the ones who built it,” said Federico, who is double-majoring in animation and digital culture (media processing) and directs Barren Mind Improv, ASU’s student improv comedy troupe. “I love showing the magic of Huddle to all kinds of students!”

Thanks to the Huddle team working their “magic,” Thompson said her students “had a great time. They were extremely engaged and really understood what I wanted them to get out of the lesson.”

Instructors interested in integrating Huddle into their course should contact Learning Futures to begin the conversation.

Top photo: Humanities students engage with WWI history through virtual reality. Photo by Erica May/ASU

Dawn R. Beeson

Manager, Marketing and Communication , The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences