News Vol. 12


Beehtoven Center: Susanne Kessel, Piano, performing selections from 250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven

For the anniversary of the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven in 2020, Bonn pianist Susanne Kessel has invited composers of new music, jazz, and film music from around the world to contribute piano pieces which refer to Ludwig van Beethoven and his work. She is playing the world premieres of all the piano pieces in Beethoven’s birth city, Bonn, between 2013 and 2020, with further performances of selected pieces in other cities and countries as well. In her concert at the Beethoven Center, Susanne Kessel will play selections from 250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven by composers from Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, USA, and Australia.

Design: Embrace the Process – Design Show

Eleven students from the BFA Graphic Design program will showcase their work in the Embrace the Process show. Everybody has a process — come see ours.

Embrace the Process: A Design Show is in Art 214, with the opening reception on Tuesday, November 15th, at 2:00 pm.

English & Comparative Literature: Novelist Vendela Vida comes to SJSU

Vendela Vida will the English Department’s Lurie Author in Residence for Spring 2017. We’ll get to meet her as she reads at the Center for Literary Arts on November 15, 2016. Click here for more information.

English & Comparative Literature: Conference on College Composition and Communication coming to SJSU

SJSU has been chosen by the Conference on College Composition and Communication to host a regional conference for rhetoric and writing teachers in June 2017. The CCCC is the flagship organization for rhetoric and writing teachers, and their annual conference attracts between 3,000-4,000 attendees. The regional conferences are designed to complement the national conference and attract a smaller group of attendees to four sites across the country. Seven faculty members from SJSU’s Department of English and Comparative Literature submitted a proposal to host approximately 200 rhetoric and writing teachers over three days in summer 2017, and CCCC recently announced that SJSU was selected as the site of the Western regional conference.

Television, Radio, Film, and Theatre: Corridos The Remix: The New American Musical

Corridos the Remix by Luis Valdez, writer of Zoot Suit and winner of a 2016 National Medal of the Arts, is a unique fusion of music, theatre, opera, mime, and comedy. While the title is Spanish, the songs and stories come from the Latino, African American, Asian, Portuguese, and French cultures, using both traditional and contemporary material and music. For information and tickets, click here.

Alumni News:

English & Comparative Literature: Luis Valdez wins National Medal of the Arts

Alumnus Luis Valdez received the National Medal of the Arts for his contributions to creating Chicano theater. Click here for more details.

Faculty News:

English & Comparative Literature: Exciting Conference on Engaging Iran and the Iranian Diaspora after the Nuclear Agreement Sponsored by SJSU Persian Studies

SJSU’s Persian Studies will host the one-day conference: “Engaging Iran and the Iranian Diaspora after the Nuclear Agreement: Opportunities and Challenges.” Dr. Persis Karim, Director of Persian Studies and a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, has organized a lineup of speakers to create a multi-disciplinary conversation about ways to continue to engage with Iran a year after the historic nuclear agreement was signed by the P5+1 nations. This conference which features Dr. Juan Cole, history professor at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor as a keynote speaker (author of Engaging the Muslim World) includes panels on humanities and arts, social sciences, and nonprofit organizations. On Friday evening after the conference, we are pleased to present the world premiere of “Together Tea”- a staged adaptation of the novel of the same name, written and directed by Dr. Matthew Spangler (Communication Studies) and featuring the acclaimed actress Leyla Modirzadeh in this one-woman show. The conference is free and open to the public and takes place in the MLK Library, from 9am-5pm on October 21st. The play will be in the SJSU Student Union Theater at 7:30 pm. Click here for more information or contact Dr. Persis Karim,

English & Comparative Literature: Cathleen Miller in Best Travel Writing Volume 11

Cathleen Miller, an associate professor of English and instructor in the creative writing program, has an essay in Travelers’ Tales anthology, Best Travel Writing Volume 11. “Sacrifices, Desires, New Moon” records the true story of her escape from kidnappers in Brazil.

English & Comparative Literature: Monograph published

Ryan Skinnell’s book, Conceding Composition: A Crooked History of Composition’s Institutional Fortunes, was published in September by Utah State University Press. In the book, Skinnell draws on extensive extensive archival research to argue that first-­year composition became the most common course in American higher education not because it could “fix” underprepared student writers, but because it has historically served significant institutional interests. That is, composition can be “conceded” in multiple ways to help institutions solve political, promotional, and financial problems that have nothing to do with teaching students to write.

Humanities: New Book

Joel Franks has just had a book published: Asian American Basketball: A Century of Sport, Community, and Culture. For more information, click here.

Music & Dance: Lington to compose for Bay Area Choral Guild

Dr. Aaron Lington has been commissioned by the Bay Area Choral Guild to compose an original work for acappella choir using a text by Shakespeare. The work will be premiered in June 2017.

Music & Dance: Music Premiere in the UK

Dr. Brian Belet’s composition “Carla’s Carousel” (co-composed with Virginie Viel), for Kyma controlled by two iPad performers, was premiered at the Kyma International Sound Symposium [KISS 2016], De Montfort University, Leicester, UK on September 10, 2016. Dr. Belet also performed in concert with the symposium’s Emergent Ensemble (electric bass and Kyma), and presented a lecture/demo on using the electric bass as a general purpose controller for live computer processing. Details are posted at:

Music & Dance: A debut album

Classical guitarist Steven Lin has released his third album with his trio “Black Cedar,” a flute, guitar, and cello ensemble dedicated to creating and re-imagining music for a new expression of chamber music. The album presents two world premier recordings of two newly commissioned works by Bay Area composers: “Miscellaneous Music” by Durwynne Hsieh and “Of Emblems” by Garrett Shatzer. “Black Cedar” also recently gave two highly acclaimed performances at the San Francisco “Presidio Sessions” (September 16, 2016) and at the annual “SF Music Day” (September 25, 2016), presented by the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music. More info about “Black Cedar” is available here.

“While the instrumentation is unconventional, it is surprisingly effective…Black Cedar is particularly effective for the rhetoric of intimacy they establish. That intimacy is just as evident in the strategic command of understatement one encounters in the performances on this new album.” — The Rehearsal Studio, Stephen Smoliar. “Black Cedar’s” next performance will be at the Santa Cruz Chamber Players concert series on November 19th and 20th.

Music & Dance: Retired?

Gary Masters, Professor Emeritus since August 2015, most recently staged Jose Limon’s virtuosic solo Chaconne, to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach’s exquisite score, for the Limon Dance Company and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. He will be setting it on SF Dance Works in the spring of 2017. At present, he is staging Limon’s A Choreographic Offering for the Dance Program at Sacramento State.

Television, Radio, Film, and Theatre: Regional premiere of “Outside Mullingar” at TheatreWorks

Andrea Bechert’s scenic design for the Regional Premiere of “Outside Mullingar” with TheatreWorks can be seen at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts between October 5th and October 30th. With a touch of blarney and a wealth of heart, the Oscar, Pulitzer, and Tony Award-winning author of “Moonstruck” and “Doubt” conjures up a wry and wondrous romantic comedy with a dark Irish twist. Family feuds and rustic fences have kept two eccentric, lovelorn neighbors apart since childhood, but in this passionate, compassionate Broadway hit it’s never too late to take a chance on love. For more information, click here.

Television, Radio, Film, and Theatre: “Crimes of the Heart” at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts

Andrea Bechert’s scenic design for “Crimes of the Heart” with TheatreWorks can be seen at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts from January 11 through February 5th. “Crimes of the Heart” was winner of the Pulitzer Prize and NY Drama Critics Circle Award. Three hard-luck Mississippi sisters are betrayed by their passions in this Southern Gothic classic—a zany, warm-hearted, and brilliantly imaginative tale of relationships run amok and dreams gone awry. In a hurricane of hilarity and hurt, Lenny’s turning 30, Meg’s fresh from rehab, and Babe’s out on bail, testing the boundaries of sisterhood in a world full of pitfalls and a town without pity. For more information, click here.

Television, Radio, Film, and Theatre: “Sisters Matsumoto” at Center Repertory Theatre in Walnut Creek

Andrea Bechert’s scenic design for “Sisters Matsumoto,” with Center Repertory Theatre, can be seen at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek from March 31st to April 29th, 2017. Stockton, California, 1946: the war is over and American optimism is returning. Also returning are the three Matsumoto sisters – Rose, Grace, and Chiz – to their family home to begin their lives again after internment in Arkansas. Successful, prosperous, and part of the community before the war, taking up life where they left off proves more complicated than they thought. Balancing comedy, romance, and suspense, this tender and truly heartwarming plays tells an important story of what it means to be American. For more information, click here.

Student News:

Design: Congratulations to Animation and Illustration student Maaike Sherff!

Maaike Sherff, a senior student of the Animation and Illustration program (Design Department) was one of only four American students chosen as recipients of the Animation Educators Forum Scholarship. ASIFA Hollywood and the Animation Educators Forum recently selected eight animation students to receive a total of $30,000 in scholarships for academic year 2016-17. Applicants submitted portfolio/demo reels, individual proposals, and letters of recommendation from faculty. According to the AEF judges, applications came in from all around the world including Syria, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and the USA, and each had their own passionate stories to tell. The AEF scholarships are merit-based and designed to support college students in continuing their education in the field of animation. Our student Maaike Sherff was one of the few recipients!

Maaike is currently a contract artist and production assistant at Sony PlayStation, in addition to being a senior in the A/I program. Previously, she has worked on projects such as “The Green Ninja Show” and “Bound for Glory.” She has also interned at Nickelodeon and freelanced for various books, mobile games, and board games. She is set to graduate in May 2017. Congratulations, Maaike!

Design: A/I Students Get Hands-On for Chipotle Commercial

Over the summer, A/I students Chun Chen and Hung Nguyen interned at HouseSpecial and had the opportunity to work extensively on a Chipotle commercial, “Chipotle: Ingredients Reign.” HouseSpecial was the commercial arm of LAIKA (Coraline, Kubo and The Two Strings) until 2014, when it spun off to be an independent studio. “Thanks to the strong A/I courses at SJSU, it was a fairly seamless transition from being a student to working at a professional studio. We had to jump from working on storyboards to painting environments to designing props on various projects,” Hung said. “On the ‘Chipotle: Ingredients Reign’ spot, Chun and I worked on storyboards and environment and prop designs. Since it was a stop-motion piece, we got a chance to help in fabrication, making and painting props for the commercial.” The internship not only introduced the students to the fast pace and different jobs at a studio, it also gave them the satisfaction of seeing their work on mainstream media. “It was really cool watching the sets you designed come to life or the sequences you storyboarded animated on screen…Learning about stop-motion animation at HouseSpecial was a really amazing experience for me. I’ve always been fascinated with stop-motion animation and getting to work on one was a dream come true,” Chun added. To view the “Chipotle: Ingredients Reign” spot, click here.