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With Leo officially in the Oscar record books, we can all rest easy. But it took “The Revenant” (2015), a film plagued with budgetary problems, threats of hypothermia, cast injuries and a fired producer to get him there. Alejandro González Iñárritu has a history of torturous films (“Biutiful” (2010) and “Birdman” (2014)) that study the processes of human will and endurance. His films are inflections of this central theme, and “The Revenant” applies his aesthetic to the 1820s American frontier, before Manifest Destiny was a national rallying cry and the road to expansion was paved in blood.
Although predominantly known for his collaborations with Kanye West, Chicago-based rapper and songwriter Che “Rhymefest” Smith takes a different approach to rap than his former collaborator, focusing more on philanthropy, emotional intelligence and the value of family. Dartmouth students and community members experienced Smith’s approach when he visited the College for the Hopkins Center’s screening of the documentary film “In My Father’s House” (2015) this past Thursday. Smith is known for co-writing the Grammy award-winning song “Jesus Walks,” from Kanye West’s album “Yeezus,” and the Oscar and Golden Globe award-winning song “Glory,” from the film “Selma” (2014).
Good things often come in pairs. Such is the case for Dartmouth alumni Tom McArdle ’91 and Matt Heineman ’05, who were both nominated for Oscars this past year.
The dancers of Companhia Urbana de Dança moved dynamically around the stage Monday night, smiling and interacting with one another as they performed complicated steps combining hip hop and other styles of dance. The mixture of styles including contemporary street style and capoeira, a Brazilian martial art dance form, is what makes Urbana so unique and exciting to watch.
It’s not everyday that one may hear or recognize the work of Johann Sebastian Bach at a vocal performance, let alone at an a cappella performance. However, this unexpected twist on singing classical pieces using vocal harmonizing is exactly what characterizes the Swingle Singers, a five-time Grammy-winning a cappella group, who will be performing tonight in Spaulding Auditorium. Originally assembled in 1963 by the now-deceased American-born tenor and arranger Ward Swingle, the Swingles, as they are affectionately called, rose to fame with their debut album “Bach’s Greatest Hits,” known internationally as “Jazz Sébastien Bach” (1963). The first group of eleven Parisian vocalists won the 1963 Grammy for Best New Artist and received the Grammy for Best Performance by a Chorus for the album. Throughout the past five decades, the lineup — and the name — of the group has gradually changed, but their innovative approach toward making music has remained constant. In 1974, the Swingles moved from Paris to London, forming Swingles II, an a cappella group of eight new vocalists that worked closely with the original Swingles’ founder. The group briefly performed as The New Swingle Singers before returning to the original name, The Swingle Singers. Currently, the Swingles are comprised of seven members, who most recently released the group’s 57th album, “Deep End” (2015). Though they continue to perform classics with a twist, they are also known for performing covers of Björk and The Beatles as well as original songs. “This particular group was one of the groundbreaking ones who began to take classical music and give it a pop beat,” Dartmouth College Glee Club musical director Louis Burkot said. Edward Randell, a 27-year-old bass from south London, joined the Swingles four years ago. He said the group has managed to endure for so many decades by emphasizing creativity. “We just follow our tastes and listen to as much music as we can,” Randell said. “We never take the view that just because something has been done a certain way, it has to always be done that way.” Unlike their predecessor Swingles II, which credited Ward Swingle as the group’s arranger, Randell said the current Swingles do not have a music director. He said almost all vocalists write and arrange the pieces they perform, and the group will both write collectively and workshop pieces brought in by individual vocalist. “[The pieces will] go through a couple drafts,” Randell said. “Then, we write more collectively [so] everybody in the group feels a sense of creative ownership.” Because the Swingles are heavily associated with Bach, Randell said the group enjoys finding ways to reinvent and reinterpret his work. He said the group also enjoys performing the earlier Bach arrangements that feature a jazz style. “It wasn’t about changing the notes,” Randell said. “It was about changing the feel.” Although based in London, their fans can be found worldwide. Their widespread popularity has given them the opportunity to tour around the world, including visits to Taiwan and China. Regarding their approach to different audiences, Randell said audiences do differ, but they differ as much from state to state as from country to country. He said the group tailors their performances in the placement of particular songs or arrangements. For instance, in a performance in Taiwan, the group chose to perform a Taiwanese piece. “We tend to get the best response doing the music we want,” Randell said. The authenticity of their music can speak to any audience, regardless of their geographic origin, he added. In conjunction with the Hopkins Center’s outreach and arts education program, the Swingles held a master vocal class in Faulkner Recital Hall yesterday with three groups: The Dartmouth Dodecaphonics, The Dartmouth Cords and local barbershop chorus The North Country Chordsmen. Reid Aronstein ’16, tenor and baritone vocalist and former president of the Cords, said attending the master class was an opportunity to improve musically. “The Cords is entirely student run, so the opportunity we get for outside critique is rare,” Aronstein said. “It’s exciting to be able to work with a group that’s clearly been around.” Alisa White ’17, music director for the Dodecaphonics, performed The Weepies’ “World Spins Madly On” (2006) for the master class, an arrangement that White said has been passed on for almost a decade through the a cappella group. The piece was chosen specifically for the opportunity to work on the tone of the entire group because the arrangement does not have a soloist. “I’m excited to see them perform,” White said. “They do arrangements of classical songs which is something we don’t see on campus.” The North Country Chordsmen performed “What a Wonderful World” (1967). Ed Piper, president of the Chordsmen, said interacting with vocalists from other musical styles was a valuable experience. He said members of the Swingle Singers asked the men to practice in a variety of different ways, including singing without visual cues and singing without cues from a music director. “I think when we practice by ourselves, we focus on the little things,” baritone Bob Chorney said. However, he said having outside coaches drew attention to the bigger picture items about their performance and cohesiveness as a vocal group. Randell said that mentoring others can be an experience in itself. “We always come across great groups at the high school and college level, so it can be quite humbling,” Randell said. Burkot said the Glee Club will open tonight’s performance with two traditional spirituals that are lightheaded and will complement the Swingle Singers’ performance. He said both groups will be using lighting effects that will enhance the visuals of the show. When asked about tonight’s performance, Randell answered with an air of mystery. No specifics were given, but he did say the pieces will include classical and folk elements. “[The performance will] showcase a wide variety and explore a broad possibility of what can be done with the human voice,” Randell said. Tonight’s show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $17 to $30.
The current renovations of the Hood Museum recently stirred up controversy. The $50 million renovations are scheduled to be completed in January 2019 and focus on expanding and creating new spaces. Conflict has arisen over the efforts to harmonize new additions with the vision of Charles Moore, the original architect.
After the success of the hand-held, alien invasion blockbuster “Cloverfield” in 2008, producer J. J. Abrams shaped its blood relative “10 Cloverfield Lane” (2016) to exist in the same apocalyptic universe. But the film seems patently devoid of aliens; rather they are a backdrop or suggestion, and what we get instead is a tight, chamber thriller in which alienation becomes the central horror.
Based in Los Angeles, Clara Aranovich ’07 has worked in the film industry primarily as a writer and director but has credits as an actress, video editor, producer, cinematographer, camera assistant and sound editor as well. Her latest projects include producing “Yosemite” (2015) starring James Franco as well as writing, directing and acting in “Primrose” (2015), a short film that was nominated for the SXSW Grand Jury Award.
While Charli Fool Bear-Vetter ’15 is known for her powerful singing voice as a member of the Rockapellas and as a 2015 Dartmouth Idol runner-up, she credits playwriting as the medium that helped her discover her literary voice. Fool Bear-Vetter, a theater major, was named first runner-up on March 22 for her play “The Crickets Ate the Moon” in the inaugural Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program playwriting contest. Yale senior Reed Adair Bobroff placed first with his play “A Fraction of Love.”
When Samantha Knowles ’12 began her journey at Dartmouth eight years ago, she had her eye set on majoring in film and media. Not only did she achieve that goal, but she exceeded it, graduating with degrees in psychology and film and media studies. Knowles has transitioned into working in the film industry thanks to her short documentary “Why Do You Have Black Dolls?” (2012), which received the 2012 Reel Sisters Film Festival Spirit Award and the 2013 Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) Film Festival Audience Award. As an associate producer, she has worked on several films including “Meru” (2015) and “Incorruptible” (2015), a film about the 2011 Senegal crisis.
Edgard Allen Poe is much more than a scary storyteller as “Red-Eye to Havre de Grace,” performed by groups Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental and Wilhelm Bros. & Co., shows. The play chronicles the last days of Poe’s life, specifically focusing on his journey to New York in pursuit of remarriage, tonight and tomorrow at the Hopkins Center.
Like many Dartmouth students, Nicolle Allen ’16 came to the College with a major already in mind. Despite her interest in English and biology, she realized this was not the path for her after beginning a work-study in the College’s costume shop for the theater department. Backstage, Allen helped actors make their speedy changes.
The Hopkins Center jumps right into a packed spring term featuring lively performances by prominent visiting artists, thought-provoking film specials and innovative student works.
South African singer-songwriter Jesse Clegg will be opening for The Johnny Clegg Band at the Lebanon Opera House tonight. Clegg, who just released his third studio album, is a platinum-selling success in South Africa and his performance will be part of his North American tour.
In a few weeks, Modest Mouse’s debut album “This is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About” (1996), will celebrate its 20th anniversary. The record is overshadowed by its follow ups, “The Lonesome Crowded West” (1997), which Pitchfork dedicated an entire documentary to, and their major label debut “The Moon & Antarctica” (2000). Those two albums are titans to be sure, but they unfortunately obscure the shine of “This is a Long Drive,” an album that is a classic in its own right.
Beyond her turn as the beloved Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series or Violet Crawley on “Downton Abbey,” Dame Maggie Smith may be unknown to most American audiences. A giant of the British stage and screen, Smith has received two Oscars (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1969) and “California Suite” (1978)), two Emmys for “Downton Abbey” and a Tony for “Lettice and Lovage” (1990). But this great Dame, finding a second wind in her not so twilight years, trades her Downton pomp and circumstance for the grime and acerbity of Miss Shepherd, the lady in the van.
“Name one genius that ain’t crazy,” Kanye West raps on “Feedback,” the fifth track of his recent album “The Life of Pablo.” “I’ve been out of my mind a long time.”
A senior with a double major in engineering and studio art, F. Hambelton “Ham” Sonnenfeld ’16 has always enjoyed creating projects.
Grace Carney '17 won the first place prize at Dartmouth Idol last Friday, which includes $500 and the opportunity to record a two-song demo. The second place prize of $250 was awarded to Nikhil Arora '16.
Drew Zwetchkenbaum ’16 and Daniel Shanker ’16 reprised their musical “Legally Drew: The Drewsical,” written as freshman, in three performances this past weekend in Silsby 028.