Marching band is no breeze

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (08.20.2015)

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Purdue band tryouts print PDF

Purdue band tryouts print PDF

The subjects of back-to-school stories often center on sports tryouts and curriculum. What can be left out are students’ activities in the arts. The dedication of band members at Purdue University — which does not offer a music major — was worth exploring.

I came at the story from the eyes of a freshman, explaining the difficulties of auditions and the challenges of combining new marching techniques with musical skill and athleticism. In doing so, I hoped to tap into a readership with ties to the “AllAmerican” Marching Band who are proud of its tradition and their memories. As it ended up, this has been one of my most shared features at the Journal & Courier.

Fire sculpture folds in community

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (04.14.2016)

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Fire sculpture print PDF

Fire sculpture print PDF

Ceramic artist Nina Hole’s fire sculptures are both magnificent and rare — only about two dozen exist in the world. After Hole designed them, her team built and fired them on site, inviting the community to be involved in the entire process.

Purdue University’s Lonsford Committee commissioned one of these sculptures, which turned out to be the last Hole designed. The celebrated artist died in early 2016 and never saw her last piece, which was built in late March and early April.

Because of its prominent construction spot outdoors on campus, the fire sculpture received plenty of local media attention. So when I wrote in depth on it, I had to find a fresh, meaningful angle. That it was Hole’s last designed sculpture and was to be what one of my sources called an “avant-garde bonfire” were spectacular.

But the artist’s care for people — even after her death — and the community connections the sculpture’s construction formed proved to be both a touching and largely uncovered storyline.

Story through opera & dance

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (03.31.2016)

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"Dido and Aeneas" print PDF

“Dido and Aeneas” print PDF

Choreographer Mark Morris’ production of “Dido and Aeneas” offered incredibly rich material for me to dive into. His version, which sets dance to Henry Purcell’s famous opera with the singers and orchestra just off stage, premiered in 1989.

So suffice it to say that “Dido and Aeneas” has been covered many times by the press. The freshest angle I could take was to write about Morris’ vision and how the current performers interpreted it and fused their performances into one point of view — even though they can’t see one another.

Chemistry & chamber music

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (03.19.2015)

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Academy and Denk print PDF

Academy and Denk print PDF

As a cellist who has listened to the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields since I was a child, I could barely contain my excitement when I saw they were part of Purdue Convocations’ season.

Add to that pianist Jeremy Denk as soloist, and you have a recipe for a brilliant evening.

While the chamber music group has existed for decades, however, I knew not everyone would have had the same experience as I did. So for my preview, I set out to peel back some of the lesser-known details of performances in the genre, which included the group’s singular chemistry, sections passed back and forth between soloist and orchestra, and the flexibility and listening skills required from world-class performers.