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improvisation

The Wood Brothers, with Oliver Wood in the middle.
Alysse Gafkjen

One of the best live bands in American music is returning to our region for two gigs this winter. The Wood Brothers will be at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vermont on February 6 and at the Palace in Albany February 8.

Celebrating its 18th season, Modfest 2020 is Vassar College’s annual exploration of the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries. This year’s theme, “reflect to project,” looks backward to move forward. All events are free and open to the public.

Jeff Snyder is a composer, improviser and instrument-designer. He is the founder and lead designer of Snyderphonics, for which he designs and builds unusual electronic musical instruments. In 2009, he co-founded an experimental music record label, Carrier Records. In 2011, he received a doctorate with distinction in Music Composition from Columbia University. He is now the Director of Electronic Music at Princeton University, as well as Director of PLOrk , Princeton's Laptop Orchestra.

At Vassar, Snyder will present an open rehearsal of “Opposite Earth” on Wednesday, February 5 (a collaboration between Modfest and THinCs [The Humanities in Cognitive Science]) and on Thursday, February 6 he will give a lecture and performance entitled “Build, Destroy, Build: Spontaneous Creation of Structure.”

Dan Tepfer - Natural Machines
Nicolas Joubard '18

On Saturday, December 14 at 7 p.m., Catskill Jazz Factory presents Dan Tepfer: Natural Machines at Hudson Hall in Hudson, New York.

Pianist-composer, Dan Tepfer is a recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Born in France to American parents, Tepfer received a bachelor's degree in astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh and a master's degree in jazz piano performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston. He’s performed to great acclaim all over the world.

James Geary is the deputy curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, editor of Nieman Reports, and former editor of the European edition of Time magazine. He is the author of the new book "Wit's End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It,"

Wit is often thought of as simply being funny. But wit is more than just having a knack for snappy comebacks. There is the serendipitous wit of scientists, the crafty wit of inventors, the optical wit of artists, the improvisational wit of musicians, and the metaphysical wit of philosophers. Wit is the quick, instinctive intelligence that allows us to think, say or do the right thing at the right time in the right place. James Geary explores every facet of wittiness, bringing the subject to life by writing each chapter in a style that exemplifies a different kind of wit.

  Brooklyn Raga Massive is an artist collective dedicated to creating cross-cultural understanding through the lens of Indian classical and Raga inspired music. It is comprised of forward thinking musicians rooted in both traditional Indian and South Asian classical music, as well as cross-cultural Raga inspired music.

This Saturday, November 3, Brooklyn Raga Massive will be a Hudson Hall in Hudson, New York playing a live film score to the 1973 animated sci-fi classic “Fantastic Planet.”

Neel Murgai, Eric Fraser, and David Ellenbogen from Brooklyn Raga Massive joined us to tell us more.

Sam Wasson is the author of five books including the best-selling "Fosse" and "Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman."

His new book, "Improv Nation," shares the history of a uniquely American art form that has never been more popular.

At the height of the McCarthy era, an experimental theater troupe set up shop in a bar near the University of Chicago. Via word-of-mouth, astonished crowds packed the ad-hoc venue to see its unscripted, interactive, consciousness-raising style. From this unlikely seed grew the Second City, the massively influential comedy theater troupe, and its offshoots—the Groundlings, Upright Citizens Brigade, "SNL," and a slew of others.

On February 11th, Empire State Youth Orchestras signature Youth Orchestra will take the Proctors stage with Fireworks Ensemble, a cross-over classical music ensemble that was lauded by the New York Times for its “hell-for-leather arrangements” and “show-stopping solos.”

Together, the two groups will share an evening of music that will include the world-premiere of a piece written by Fireworks Ensemble member and composer Brian Coughlin commissioned by ESYO called Play.

Empire State Youth Orchestra Music Director Helen Cha-Pyo and Fireworks Ensemble member and composer Brian Coughlin join us.