The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: March 15, 2017 (Page 2 of 2)

“I could talk music all day” An interview with Jan Pastor

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jan Pastor ’20 from Warsaw, Poland, about his electronic musical composition for the class “Computer Music and The Arts.” In a music studio in Olin, I learned about his musical piece “Within Me,” which was performed February 14th in the Olin center. Here’s what I found out:

Fagundo: Why did you take this class?

Pastor: I took this class because I wanted to experiment with something creative. I like being able to create my own video and musical compositions. I have no experience in writing music, so I was intimidated by our first project.

Fagundo: Do you have a musical past?

Pastor: I have an unsuccessful musical past: I tried playing the piano, violin, guitar, and the recorder until the age of eleven. I never got good at anything, and quit too much. But, I think it is nice to have live instruments in compositions, so I might try something out again. This class makes me want to want to continue working with music.

Fagundo: Is your family musical?

Pastor: Yeah, I have a strong musical background in family. My grandfather was a well known violinist from Argentina, my uncle is a music professor at UCLA, and my mom is a ballet dancer. I’ve grown up surrounded by music and the arts.

Fagundo: Can you tell me about the assignment?

Pastor: We were assigned to compose any type of original piece. So basically, we could create anything that wasn’t sampled. We all used the program Logic, which is an upgrade from GarageBand. The lyrics I wrote are similar to a generic pop song about going through change, and my friend, Josie Blanchon, sang them really well.

Fagundo: Were you inspired by any artist or song?

Pastor: Yeah, actually I was inspired by Maddie Rogers, a young up-and-coming artist. I followed the structure and vibe of Dog Days. Since this is my first piece, I had to use elements from songs.

Fagundo: What was the most challenging?

Pastor: Making sure that every instrument was heard, which required a lot of complicated mixing. I read a lot of guides online to learn how to do it.

Fagundo: What instruments did you use?

Pastor: There are synths, a voice, an acoustic guitar, a bass, a piano, a tweed-picked electric guitar, and drums. I think the piano dominates throughout the chorus but every instrument has its fair share.

Fagundo: Was there any emotion you were trying to evoke?

Pastor: I wanted this idea that the song was moving somewhere. The concept was quite a lot of open space to sound more relaxed.

Fagundo: Do you think your music is different from popular music?

Pastor: Haha, no way! I just started so I am just trying to figure it out. It takes so many years to find what your sound is.

Fagundo: What do you think of modern electronic music?

Pastor: I like electronic music. I think you can do anything with it. You can make a song that either sounds really synthesized, or you can make a song that sounds really authentic. There is a lot of meaningless pop songs today, but I think those are just artists in popular industries that care more about fame than talent. I personally don’t like to measure what I listen to by what is popular.

Fagundo: Can you explain your music taste?

Pastor: I like the alternative genre. My favorite band is Radiohead. I think their best songs are “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” and the super sad song, “Motion Picture Soundtrack.”

Fagundo: Where do you get most of your music?

Pastor: I read a lot of pitchfork, an online music magazine. It’s easy to find new music on Spotify, too.

Fagundo: Are you going to take more music classes at Bates?

Pastor: I think so, I think it is important to have musical knowledge. It’s an awesome creative outlet.

Fagundo: If you could be any artist who would you be?

Pastor: Snoop Dogg, for sure. He is the chillest guy around. I recommend his song “Who Am I?”

For more of Pastor, you can listen to his friends and his radio show “The Late Show” 12:00 – 2:00 a.m on Tuesday mornings.

 

Diversity and inclusion, with ardor and devotion

This winter, The New York Times published a list of 38 colleges in America that have a higher percentage of students from the top one percent than the bottom 60 percent of income distribution. Bates ranked number 17.

Understandably, the Times article conflagrated on social media; the day after the statistics were released, both my parents texted me the link to the article. In adjacent columns, the 12.9 percent of students from the bottom 60 percent paled against the 18.3 percent of students from the top one percent. The statistic was, for my family and many of my peers, a slap in the face.

And it was not just a slap in the face for Bates; what was most unsettling, perhaps, was the number of elite institutions that dominated the top of the list. NESCAC schools, in particular, seemed overwhelmingly present. Many of Bates’ counterparts in the conference fared considerably worse than Bates in terms of socioeconomic diversity; Bates was one of eight NESCAC schools– Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, and Tufts– to make the list.

We are certainly not alone in our issues with socioeconomic diversity; but these statistics are no less worrisome. Diversity is an essential component of the college experience.

As the “Diversity & Inclusion” tab on the Bates website says, “Everyone is different; at Bates, we embrace and learn from that difference.” Diversity of all kinds– sexual, racial, cultural, and socioeconomic– plays a vital role in the intellectual vibrancy of college.

As the website suggests, diversity is a core value on Bates campus. In the past few years, Bates has made a concerted effort to promote this value. Under the Clayton administration, we have made leaps in terms of diversity initiatives. According to the Bates website, Spencer has implemented our first diversity officer, helped improve the number of underrepresented students in incoming classes, and incorporated Bates into the Connections Consortium– an intercollegiate organization that aims to promote diversity on college campuses.

Bates is demonstrably dedicated to the cause of diversity, and it is critical that we look at these statistics through the lens of our progress. But as for now, we cannot escape the numbers. We currently have a higher number of students who hail from the nation’s top one percent of income distribution than those who come from the bottom 60 percent.

So, how do we change it?

The question is, understandably, a complex one. Some of the burden might fall on the administration in continuing to push these efforts which combat socioeconomic inequity. But let us also remember our role as students.

“Diversity and Inclusion” are not problems that can be solved by numbers alone. They are social issues too, ingrained in our interactions and deeply-rooted privilege. Let us recognize that privilege, take classes that expand our experience, make an effort to talk to people different than ourselves, and allow these statistics to guide the work of the college– and our work as students too.

Feminists must validate the experience of trans* women

A video of renowned feminist author, Chimamanda Nzogi Adichie, circulated the internet in which she uses what many have labeled “transphobic”, “cis-centric,” and “exclusionary” rhetoric to describe the differences in treatment and experiences of trans* women versus cis women. This video has led to many responses, many of which attack Adichie and point out her privileged position. While I have many problems with the way some of these articles attack, dismiss, and label Adichie with harsh terms, I do agree that what Adichie says about the experience of trans* women is problematic. Although some trans* women did/do have the privilege of passing as men, having one privilege does not negate their experiences as women or trans* women’s labor that has intense theoretical roots in feminism.

I do believe that some– not all– trans* women do/once had the privilege of passing as men. This privilege is something that I, as a cisgender woman, do not have; however, where Adichie’s logic crumbles is in mistaking this privilege as beyond or outside the experience of a woman, potentially even beyond or outside efforts of feminism. What Adichie fails to recognize, and what unfortunately many of the articles I read failed to point out, is that all LGBTQ+ people, not solely trans* women, have all labored for feminism in a way that heterosexual cis women have not. More importantly, hetero-cis women benefit from this labor. And to exclude trans* women from the labor of the LGBTQ+ community is intellectually and ethically irresponsible.

Because the constructs of gender and sexuality are so deeply intertwined with each other, it is important to recognize that disrupting one (by presenting as gay, for instance) disrupts both binaries. In other words, for a cis woman to engage in a queer activity with another cis woman is still disrupting the gender binary that relies on heterosexuality to function. Trans* and non-binary people disrupt these binaries even more overtly in terms of systemic structures of pronouns, the legal gender binary, etc. What we need to recognize here is that the entire concept of feminism is rooted in a concept of trans* or non-binary. In western culture, the logical framework for gender is that woman is not the opposite, but the counterpart or other in the face of man. Men serve as an icon of the norm while women serve as the gendered other to that norm. In essence, women are represented in terms of their proximity or relationship to men. And anything non-cis or non-heterosexual disrupts this framework.

What we learn from non-cis people, and through trans* women especially, is that gender is not only constructed as a reflective binary, but that it is entirely performative. Culturally, drag and other types of performance have pointed this out to feminists, which has helped carve the notion of what being gendered as a woman really means. Judith Butler writes, “[Drag] implies that all gendering is a kind of impersonation and approximation. If this is true, it seems, there is no original or primary gender that drag imitates, but gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original; in fact, it is a kind of limitation that produces the very notion of the original as an effect and consequence of the imitation itself…the naturalized effects of heterosexualized genders are produced through imitative strategies; what they imitate is a phantasmatic ideal of heterosexual identity, one that is produced by the imitation as its effect.” (Butler, 378)

In completely theoretical terms, the practice of performing as non-cis reveals that gender is performative, and there is no original model for this performance. This means that ALL women, even cis women, are performing their gender, which has no original foundation. Because gender is a construct which must be performed, trans* women are not mimicking or appropriating an original model of a true “woman,” they are mimicking a mimic that has been performed for years. So it seems that the crux of the experience of being a woman is performance. So theoretically, it makes no sense to exclude trans* women from this experience, just as it would make no sense to exclude non-binary women from this experience, because they choose to no longer “perform,” so to speak. We know this thanks to the work of the LGTBQ+ community (which includes trans* women!) that has performed and disrupted these binaries in overt and revealing ways that heteronormative cis people could not.

So, even though some trans* women could/can pass for men, recognizing this privilege is not socially or theoretically very productive. What would be more productive, which is what the articles I read were really grasping for, is recognizing the extreme systemic violence that takes place every day against trans* people. Trans* women’s bodies are not safer than cis women’s bodies from sexual harassment and assault. In fact, one in two trans* people will be assaulted in their lifetime. A trans* person has a one in twelve chance of being murdered compared to the 1 in 18,000 chance that cis people have. So, while some trans* women might have once been able to pass as men, this privilege is clearly not strong or rooted enough to protect them from violence. Cis women may not be able to pass as men, but the chances of them avoiding violence against their bodies is dramatically higher. Keeping that in mind, it seems it would be a more productive conversation for feminists to focus not on the validity of the experience of trans* people, but on how to systematically disrupt gender binaries that exclude and violate every radically different kind of women’s bodies.

An alphabetical journey into the English Premier League: S

Southampton F.C. (The Saints)

Overview: Southampton Football Club is based in Southampton, Hampshire, England in 1885. They are called The Saints because they were founded as the church football team at St. Mary’s Church of England. They changed their name to Southampton F.C. in 1896 after winning the Southern League. In 1992, Southampton were one of the founding members of the Premier League but struggled against relegation for their first ten years before being relegated in 2005. It took them 7 years, and some financing woes to make it back to the Premier League. In 2015, they placed 7th in the Premier League, their highest ever rank. They have won the FA Cup once in 1976 and placed second in the First Division in 1984. The team is known for its successful youth academy, producing players such as Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw, and Gareth Bale.

Stadium: St. Mary’s Stadium: 32,689 capacity

Notable players:

Alan Ball, M, (1976-1980, 1981-1983)

Wayne Bridge, D, (1998-2003)

Peter Shilton, GK, (1982-1987)

Terry Paine, M, (1957-1974)

Mick Channon, F, (1965-1977, 1979-1982)

Matthew Le Tissier, M, (1986-2002)

Fun facts:

Southampton have sold 5 players to Liverpool since 2014

They have won the Southern League 6 times from 1896-1903

Theo Walcott became the youngest player to play for England in 2006

The team almost went bankrupt in the early 2000’s

Swansea City A.F.C (The Swans)

Overview: Swansea City AFC was founded in 1912 in Swansea, Wales as Swansea Town before changing their name to their current in 1969. They joined the football league in 1921 and were promoted to the Football League First Division 1981. In 2011, Swansea were promoted to the Premier League and in 2013 they won the Football League Cup-the 1st major trophy in the club’s history. For most of their time as a club, the team has done quite poorly and not participated in the top league. Once they were promoted to the Premier League in 2011, they became the first Welsh team to play in the top division. They have managed to stay in the Premier League since.

Stadium: Liberty Stadium, 21,088 capacity

Notable Players:

Wilfred Milne, D (1920-1937)

Alan Curtis, F (1972-1979, 1980-1983, 1989-1990)

Roger Freestone, GK, (1991-2004)

Wyndham Evans, D (1971-1985)

Gary Monk, D (2004-2013)

Robbie James, M (1973-1983, 1988-1990)

Fun facts:

They are the first Welsh team to play in the Premier League

Swansea is Wales’ second largest city

They are the only Premier League team not to have reached the final of the FA cup

They had a manager who lasted only 7 days, Kevin Cullis

They have had 3 managers this current season

Sunderland A.F.C. (The Black Cats)

Overview: Sunderland is based in the North-East city of Sunderland and was founded in 1879. They remained in the top league for 68 successive seasons before being relegated for the first time in 1958. They have won the top-flight First Division 6 times before it became the Premier League. They have won the FA Cup twice and the FA Community Shield once. After initial successes, Sunderland won their last major trophy in 1973. They have the 7th highest average home attendance of the 20 Premier League clubs. They have remained in the Premier League since 2007 and have since become one of the world’s wealthiest football brands.

Stadium: Stadium of Light, 49,000 capacity

Notable players:

Jimmy Montgomery, GK, (1960-1977)

Jermain Defoe, F (present)

Julia Arca, M, (2000-2006)

Niall Quinn, F, (1996-2002)

Fun facts:

Sunderland broke the record transfer fee 3 times in the 20th century

They broke the record for most points in the Championship (105) in 1999

One of the 1st clubs to enter the Football League in 1890

They have only spent 1 season out of the top 2 tiers of English Football

 

Diversity and inclusion, with ardor and devotion

This winter, The New York Times published a list of 38 colleges in America that have a higher percentage of students from the top one percent than the bottom 60 percent of income distribution. Bates ranked number 17.

Understandably, the Times article conflagrated on social media; the day after the statistics were released, both my parents texted me the link to the article. In adjacent columns, the 12.9 percent of students from the bottom 60 percent paled against the 18.3 percent of students from the top one percent. The statistic was, for my family and many of my peers, a slap in the face.

And it was not just a slap in the face for Bates; what was most unsettling, perhaps, was the number of elite institutions that dominated the top of the list. NESCAC schools, in particular, seemed overwhelmingly present. Many of Bates’ counterparts in the conference fared considerably worse than Bates in terms of socioeconomic diversity; Bates was one of eight NESCAC schools– Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, and Tufts– to make the list.

We are certainly not alone in our issues with socioeconomic diversity; but these statistics are no less worrisome. Diversity is an essential component of the college experience. As the “Diversity & Inclusion” tab on the Bates website says, “Everyone is different; at Bates, we embrace and learn from that difference.” Diversity of all kinds– sexual, racial, cultural, and socioeconomic– plays a vital role in the intellectual vibrancy of college.

As the website suggests, diversity is a core value on Bates campus. In the past few years, Bates has made a concerted effort to promote this value. Under the Clayton administration, we have made leaps in terms of diversity initiatives. According to the Bates website, Spencer has implemented our first diversity officer, helped improve the number of underrepresented students in incoming classes, and incorporated Bates into the Connections Consortium– an intercollegiate organization that aims to promote diversity on college campuses.

Bates is demonstrably dedicated to the cause of diversity, and it is critical that we look at these statistics through the lens of our progress. But as for now, we cannot escape the numbers. We currently have a higher number of students who hail from the nation’s top one percent of income distribution than those who come from the bottom 60 percent.

So, how do we change it?

The question is, understandably, a complex one. Some of the burden might fall on the administration in continuing to push these efforts which combat socioeconomic inequity. But let us also remember our role as students.

“Diversity and Inclusion” are not problems that can be solved by numbers alone. They are social issues too, ingrained in our interactions and deeply-rooted privilege. Let us recognize that privilege, take classes that expand our experience, make an effort to talk to people different than ourselves, and allow these statistics to guide the work of the college– and our work as students too.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream amazes, standing between reality and reverie

The air around Schaffer Theater this weekend was thick with anticipation. News of the production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was sparse and expectations were riding high. It was to be the thesis performances of three seniors, and was following up on a performance of the same play last spring. Needless to say, combined with the directing of long-time Theater Professor, Martin Andrucki, the play had accumulated a hot buzz. But did the production live up to Bates’ expectations?

Quite simply, yes.

Entering through the double doors, the audience was met with a nineteen-twenties style landscape of soft colors and powerful shapes. Eyes were drawn quickly to the parchment yellow crescent moon. Paired with a square arts-and-craft style screen, juxtaposition was placed literally center stage. This visual contradiction set the fragmented tone for the actual performance. The play, this production proved, is primarily about doubling and the agency that it gives or takes away. The characters of the play are constantly cast between, between species, between love and most notably between reality and dreams. The ethereal qualities of Andrucki’s staging rang through every detail, even down to Titania’s servants who whisked scenery, as if on an enchanted wind, on and off stage.

Showcasing the incredible talent of Bates, Midsummer was carried by the strength of its performances. Audrey Burns ’17 gave us a nervous, crafty and ultimately redeemed Helena, while Azure Reid-Russell ’17 played Hermia in a fresh way. Sam James ’18 provided a mercurial and loyal Puck. Declan Chu ’17 gave us a confident yet misguided Lysander who was always at odds with Demetrius played by John Dello Russo ’18. Meanwhile, Dan Peeples ’17 played an over the top and ridiculous Bottom. The play within a play at the end of the production proved to be a hilarious highpoint, with Erik Skattum ’19 in dress and blond wig splayed out as Thisbe.

Although the playbill told us the play takes place “not all that long ago,” the costumes set it at the height of the twenties. Despite this setting, Andrucki is careful not to fall into the aesthetic clichés associated with the time. Never is this choice overbearing or distracting, rarely is it not subtle and refined. One piece of the design did stick out, fantastically. A couch covered in white with a crescent moon placed jauntily behind it. Serving as a bed for Titania and Bottom, the piece is gorgeously over-the-top, as ridiculous and decadent as the relationship itself. A more understated decision was the white cloth trees hung about the back part of the stage. Standing in for the forest, they were a reminder of just how eerie this setting is. Enter stage through them was a powerful and imposing Oberon, played by Psychology Teaching Assistant Brian Pfohl, accompanied by his sly Puck or a light and elegant Titania, played by Tricia Crimmins ’19, followed by her servants.

The production was stellar. Fusing elements of the established tradition and new, innovative techniques, Andrucki took his audience on an incredible journey. Taking Shakespeare to Schaffer, the cast and crew of Midsummer wowed its audience with everything from gut-busting comedy to thought-provoking insights on the human psyche. Helping to welcome the warmer weather, it transported us to a set of magical and lovely summer nights, filled with mischief and farce, governed by fairies and their frivolities. Bates’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream inspires joy and color through the wintry and sometimes bleak Maine campus.

 

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