The Pigott Family Endowment for the Arts at Seattle University Fine Arts
Annual Report for 2012-13 Academic Year
The Pigott Family Endowment for the Arts recently finished its second full academic year of supporting Seattle University Fine Arts (SUFA) students' learning enrichment through contact with professional visiting artists. While all divisions of the department annually benefit from guest artist residencies and programs, the lion's share of the endowed funds is applied to a different division each year on a rotating basis. Thus, a SUFA student can be assured of experiencing at least one academic year in which the funds will have tremendous impact on his/her learning. In 2012-13, a number of highly accomplished visiting artists worked closely with students and faculty in all divisions (Fine Arts, Theatre, Music), but endowment funds had the most dramatic impact on the Music Division.
Associate professor Dr. Quinton Morris was the driving force behind the selection of the artists who worked in the Music Division. The quality and diversity of the following artists was the result of Dr. Morris' personal connections and artistic vision. Every activity or residency below was subsidized wholly or in part with funds from the Pigott Family Endowment for the Arts.
On September 21, 2012, the annual convocation of SU's Music Division was enhanced by a special keynote address from Leah Baltus. Ms. Baltus is the editor in chief of City Arts magazine. Previously, she founded and edited RIVET magazine, co-founded Shunpike and consulted with dozens of organizations that make Seattle interesting, and as brand and editorial director at Pyramid Communications. As a staunch believer that all ships really do rise, she is determined to bring together artists and audiences from disciplines of all kinds.
In her keynote, she spoke about why the students' commitment to their craft is so important to who they are as people and to the world on a larger scale. She also talked about how important it is to make the most of their time in school because it will have such an enormous impact on their futures. The students were very receptive and eager for encouragement.
Mark O'Connor -
Mr. O'Connor (born August 5, 1961 in Seattle, WA) is an American classical, bluegrass, jazz and country violinist, fiddler, composer and music teacher. O'Connor's music is wide-ranging, critically acclaimed, and he has received numerous awards for both his playing and his composition. O'Connor has developed a string instrument technique for music teachers and students, The O'Connor Method - A New American School of String Playing. The method places an emphasis on music and playing techniques from North America, in addition to focusing on rhythmic development, ear training, and improvisation. It differs from the European emphasis of the Suzuki method of violin training in its emphasis on "mother tongue" approach.
On October 5th, O'Connor visited Seattle University and shared this technique with strings students in an intimate workshop in which students received one-to-one critiques and instruction. The Pigott endowment further provided participating students with free tickets to Mr. O'Connor's October 6th performance with jazz vocalist Jane Monheit at the Kirkland Performance Center.
Angela Myles Beeching -
Ms. Beeching's residency was an innovative collaboration between the Fine Arts Department and the Albers School of Business and Economics.
Author of the acclaimed "Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music," Angela Myles Beeching has helped thousands of musicians build successful careers. Angela co-hosts the Network of Music Career Development Officers, an international organization dedicated to advancing career readiness programs at conservatories and universities. She also directs the Center for Music Entrepreneurship at Manhattan School of Music.
In two days of residency at SUFA, October 15 & 16, Ms. Beeching conducted or participated in a dizzying number of events and activities. She visited music classes, held individual consultations with students and faculty, worked with the Music Division developing a 5-year plan, met with the Dean and faculty of the Albers School of Business and Economics, and met with SUFA faculty on how to incorporate entrepreneurship within the classroom. The highlight of her residency was a panel discussion with Dr. Leo Simpson (Entrepreneurship and Innovation Professor), moderator Vivian Scott Philips and Kathleen Hosfeld (Arts Consultants), and Dr. Morris: "Art of Entrepreneurship: Learning how to be entrepreneurial and innovative as a student or recent graduate."
From Angela Myles Beeching:
"The residency allowed for interaction with faculty and students in small groups and a chance to brainstorm with people about the future they envision. There were many interesting discussions and the students and faculty all seemed highly motivated and mission-driven. I was impressed by Quinton's dedication and high standards and with all that he has done to develop the string program at Seattle U. For students, the mix of musical training with mentoring and leadership experiences--and working closely with faculty role models--has much merit. In these challenging times for higher ed specialized programs, it's heartening to see such energized programs in the making."
Rajan Krishnaswami and Mark Salman -
Cellist Rajan Krishnaswami and pianist Mark Salman came to campus for a master class and recital in November. Graduates of The Juilliard School, they have toured throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Krishnaswami is the founder and artistic director of Simple Measures, a Seattle chamber orchestra. Salman is a co-founder of the Delmarva Piano Festival in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Krishnaswami gave a master class on November 1 for string students and on November 3, he and Salman performed cello sonatas by Brahms, Debussy, Hindemith and Schumann in Pigott Auditorium.
"Krishnaswami and Salman are local classical music superstars," Dr. Quinton Morris, reported. "They gave an intimate and exciting performance."
Indra Thomas and Melissa Parks -
Voice students especially benefitted from a week-long residency and recital from two rising stars of the opera world. Both Thomas and Parks have performed in opera houses and recitals around the world. Thomas is considered one of the foremost Aidas in the world and Parks is a long-standing favorite at Seattle Opera. During their stay, January 22-26, 2013, the women conducted workshops with the Chorale and the Chamber Singers Choir, voice master classes and a stirring concert of arias and duets.
Dr. Lee Peterson, the Assistant Director of Choral Music at SUFA, shared her impressions of the residency:
"This was a fantastic performance, a wonderful opportunity for our choir and voice students to have a week of intensive interaction with two internationally known, highly respected young performers. Some of the choir students already knew Indra a little bit, as she sang with us in December of 2010. Melissa had done a vocal master class here earlier, as well. I think it's crucially important for developing musicians to have this kind of in-depth contact with established professionals who are currently active in the field. I don't want to get all "woo" about this - but it's true that some things are imparted, and there's a non-verbal, unquantifiable exchange of soul that can make a tremendous difference to the young student in their musical formation process. Both Indra and Melissa were incredibly generous with their time, filling the week with intensive one-on-one work with voice students, coaching sessions with our choir, master classes, and of course their inspiring performance. Working on the program for that event, I was just bowled over by what these two lovely, gracious, gifted women have already accomplished professionally. The biggest difficulty for me was trying to decide what NOT to include in the program; each of them could have filled it with her own professional credentials and accounts of performing experience. Truly memorable!"
Miró String Quartet -
The final, and perhaps most prestigious and impactful event of the Pigott Family endowed events was the week-long visit from the internationally renowned Miró String Quartet. Hailed by the New York Times as possessing "explosive vigor and technical finesse", one of America's highest-profile chamber groups enjoys its place at the top of the international chamber music scene.
While at SUFA, May 9-16, the quartet engaged in a number of community outreach activities to promote SUFA's Music Division to the greater Seattle area. These included visiting students at Ingraham High School, visiting the Skyline on First Hill retirement center, and appearing on Classical KING-FM's program "NW Focus LIVE", which included interviews with the quartet and Dr. Quinton Morris and an on-air performance. A podcast of this appearance can be heard here: http://www.king.org/NW-Focus-LIVE/15921178.
On the SU campus, they observed Dr. Morris' classes, directly coached chamber music students, and conducted a professional development seminar. Prior to the seminar, students were asked to reflect upon their aspirations for their future careers in music and create a project that reflected their vision of reaching a broader audience through chamber music. They then created formal project proposals to present to the Miró Quartet. During the seminar, the quartet reviewed the proposals and gave constructive criticism and advice to the students.
The highlight of the week was the Quartet's remarkable concert of Brahms, Beethoven and Schubert.
Dr. Lee Peterson's impressions:
"They absolutely galvanized us with their high-energy, musically impeccable, visually stunning performance. Plus, their collective energy just about levitated them off that stage! From student comments overheard during their residency, it was clear that in everything they did while on campus, they showed themselves to be astute, generous teachers and artists of supreme mastery and personal nobility."
At the end of the year
Dr. Morris reflected on the impact of the Endowment's contribution on the profile SU's Music Division:
"It did exactly what I wanted it to do. It got people talking about SUFA Music. So many people didn't even know there was a music program here. Well, they do now!"
Visiting artist Miriam Goodman-Miller
Endowment funds allowed the Theatre Division to employ a professional milliner, Miriam Goodman-Miller (Seattle Opera, Seattle Rep, et. al.) to work with students creating period costume hats; critical to the production of Maria Irene Fornes' play, Fefu and Her Friends
Junior class trip to Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Junior class Theatre majors went on the 3rd annual excursion to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 8 students and 2 faculty spent the first weekend in June in Ashland, where they saw productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew and, in what has become an annual tradition, a final dress rehearsal of A Midsummer Nights' Dream on the Elizabethan stage. These dress rehearsals are not open to the public and provide students with a rare glimpse behind-the-scenes. OSF's generosity in providing SU students such access reflects the importance of Mr. Pigott's relationship with both institutions.
The ongoing impact of this trip might be best conveyed in this excerpt from a student's thank you card to Mr. Pigott:
"This weekend has been transformative in so many different ways. Firstly, because I simply never would have had the funds to do this trip on my own. It has always been a goal of mine to go to Ashland…I mean it's the actors' Graceland is it not? Secondly, it helped me remember why I am a theatre major. Sometimes (more often than not) I feel pressured by my family and peers to pursue a different career path. They tell me I won't succeed or that acting is selfish. But when I sat in the audience at King Lear…listening to the words and the magic happening all around me…I knew I had to do it. I knew I had to continue to act and live and breathe theatre. Pedro Aruppe says 'Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.' Well, thank you, Mr. Pigott, for reminding me of what I love."
SUVAIR artist Mary Ann Peters -
Endowment funds were used by the Department of Fine Arts to support the Seattle University Visiting Artist in Residence (SUVAIR): Mary Ann Peters. As a seasoned public speaker Mary Ann has been a voice for artists and institutions around a variety of subjects, most notably concerning First Amendment rights. Her tenure at SU featured the development of new work for an exhibition January 21st - March 1st in the Vachon Gallery.
Digital Arts Projects -
Additional funds supported the Digital Arts program's invitation to Seattle stop-action animator Britta Johnson to conduct a lecture/screening during the April 11 opening of the Student Multimedia Exhibition and the assembly of local computer game makers for a symposium called "A Life of Play: Video Games, Design and Humankind". Here are a student's reflections on the symposium:
"In my time at Seattle University I can honestly say that I have never attended an event like "A Life of Play," and I mean that in the best way possible. "A Life of Play" offered the correct combination of a topic that would interest students, namely video games, and an informative look at life itself. To see the lives of five industry professionals and how they ended up working in video games industry was a reminder that you may not know where you end up but you have to keep iterating on your ideas and follow your passions.
"A Life of Play" offered a balanced and diverse panel, with its members chosen from a selection of the developer-rich Seattle Area (which means there are a lot more options for events similar to this in the future). The event offered the opportunity to look at not just life and video games itself but a meaningful and mature conversation on the idea of play itself, something that is rare when you expand outside of the video games industry.
"A Life of Play" only scratches the surface of what is possible from these panel style discussions, and there are conversations and ideas that can happen in this style of setting that I never found available through my average classroom routine. It was refreshing to attend an event of this fashion, but unfortunate it had to occur right before I graduate."