With less people on-campus and social distancing measures in effect, New College is close to becoming a ghost town. Weekend nights were filled with music and dancing, but with no new walls, Ringling underground or in-person events, students are left yearning for new music. New Music New College’s (NMNC) first web series, the New Sonic Field, has come to the rescue to bring new sounds to the New College air waves.
In previous years, NMNC produced a series of concerts, featuring nationally renowned experimental musicians as well as local talent. Since most in-person events have been cancelled as a result of the pandemic, producer Ron Silver, along with the artistic director and Professor of Digital Media and Music Mark Dancigers have reached out to musician alumni to reflect on their time at New College and discuss their work since graduating.
“When we were thinking about what to do in the fall, [we wanted to] basically keep the conversation around new music lively and relevant to everyone’s interests on campus,” Dancigers said. “We thought that we would get in touch with some of our alums who are out in the field and doing really awesome and interesting things and share some of their work, music and art, but also the things that they’ve done their careers, to generate conversations and ideas with students around what the possibilities are for them for after they graduate.”
The New Sonic Field will post four interviews with alums, along with their music, on their website. There are two interviews already posted: Dancigers spoke with Erich Barganier (‘14) and Adele Fournet (‘09) about their work and experiences after New College. Dancigers taught Bargainer, but was not working at New College when Fournet was a student. Regardless, he still reflected on the impact student-professor relationships can have.
“It’s tremendously gratifying to see the development and the tenacity and the creativity of students,” Dancigers explained. “The most rewarding thing about it, for me, is to have the sense that these students seem to have had meaningful experiences of many different kinds while they were at New College. That’s always really interesting because as an instructor, you don’t always know what course or ISP or tutorial or advising experiences are going to end up being meaningful for a student.”
Silver added that it’s always exciting to see a student he “might have been trying to facilitate a performance from years ago,” now be a professional musician and colleague.
After graduating New College, Bargainer travelled to Belarus on a Fulbright grant to teach English to musicians and work on a folk music project, before heading to New York University (NYU) for a masters degree in music theory and composition. Bargainer’s current research at McGill University in Montreal focuses on gesture controlled instrumental; the “kinds of things that I will end up reading about later in journals,” Dancigers noted.
Bargainer composes experimental electronic music that uses “experimental technology” and “extended techniques.” His song “Speaking in Tongues” sounds like an orchestral horror thriller that represents Bargainer’s interactions with the Pentecostal church he would occasionally visit. The song can be heard on SoundCloud and is featured on his NMNC page.
Fournet was another Fulbright recipient, but she traveled to Lima, Peru to work on a dance project. Titled “Limas Utopicas”, the dancers expressed their vision of a utopia using their bodies. Fournet worked in CorpusMedio, a multimedia creative duo, with Moyra Silva. Together they created a sound composition for the video that featured sounds from around the city and a mix of Latin and electronic music.
Both Fournet and Bargainers are constantly experimenting in their music. Silver and Dancigers believe the nature of New College’s academics encourages students to constantly try new things, and NMNC is no different.
“The college and New Music New College are both really focused on experimenting and experience,” Silver explained. “I think this is something that you’ll find across the college where students are encouraged to think of their experiences, experiment and enter into the unknown. I mean, that’s what education is really all about.”
The New Sonic Field will release the other two interviews with alumni Susanna Payne-Passmore and Dylan Burchett on Nov. 1 and Nov. 16. NMNC will release a second web series entitled “Movement” in a couple of weeks. It will feature dance solos from Professor Leymis Willmot’s class and Dancigers’ electronic music from classes last spring in an effort to “facilitate student-to-student collaboration.” Silver and Dancigers also hope to hold live concerts in the spring, while ensuring safety for in-person attendees and live streaming for off-campus students. More information can be found on NMNC’s events page.