Free concert at Gammage to showcase ASU's finest musicians

February 10, 2014

Annual Concert of Soloists features full orchestra

Come out to the Tempe campus to enjoy what ASU's Timothy Russell says is "one of the most exciting concerts of the year." Download Full Image

The Concert of Soloists, slated for 7:30 p.m., Feb. 12, at Gammage Auditorium, highlights the School of Music’s best and brightest – the winners of the ASU Concert of Soloists Finalists Program – playing together with student conductors and the ASU Symphony Orchestra.

Russell, a professor of music and director of orchestras at ASU, says the annual concert is a longstanding tradition that dates back to well before he started teaching at ASU 21 years ago. Shortly after his arrival, Russell launched the Student Composition Competition. The winner of that competition gets his or her work premiered at the Concert of Soloists.

“It promises to be a special evening that you won’t want to miss," said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music.

The concert is free. 

To determine who gets to play in the concert, each area of the school – woodwinds, brass, strings, voice, keyboard and percussion/guitar – holds its own competition every fall, from which two students go on to compete in the finalist program. Each division of the school sends a member of its faculty to judge the finalists. There’s also a judge from music therapy/music education and Russell, himself.

For the finals, the students performed accompanied by a piano, but on Feb. 12, the four winners of the competition will perform with a full orchestra.

“The concert is of great interest to the community because it showcases so many different dimensions of our School of Music," Russell said.

This year, three of the four winners are undergraduates: Andrew Boyle, a second year undergraduate in the piano performance program studying with Robert Hamilton; Yuanmiao Li, a senior violin performance major studying with Danwen Jiang; and Marc Placencia, a senior tuba player studying with Deanna Swoboda.

The fourth winner is Kristi Hanno, a first year master of music student in clarinet performance studying under Robert Spring and Joshua Gardner.

The winner of the Composition Competition is Joshua Jandreau, a doctoral student in composition, whose piece, “In Light Surrounded," will premiere at the concert. Jandreau describes the piece as “a tone poem, which is exactly how it sounds – a poem, but through music instead of words."

Andrew Boyle, who will perform Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, said that being selected for the Concert of Soloists was a tremendous honor, and that he is excited about the opportunity because “it gives me a chance to share what I believe to be the meaning of the Grieg Piano Concerto with the public generally. It is enduring music that deserves a fresh retelling and rehearing by modern ears."

Clarinetist Kristi Hanno will perform a much more recent piece: 20th-century composer Henri Tomasi’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra.

“This is the first time in 21 years that (a student playing) Tomasi has won the competition," Russell said. “It’s very new compared to the Grieg."

Russell noted that while there are always “standard traditional favorites" that win the competition, the world of classical music is changing, and that Hanno’s professor, Robert Spring, has “really changed the way that people listen to the clarinet."

“When one of our professors is cutting edge, their students often follow their lead," Russell said.

Yuanmaio Li will perform Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, and Marc Placencia will play Rolf Wilhelm’s Concertina for Tuba.

Placencia said that he was excited to play the tuba for an audience that may never have heard it played as a solo instrument. “Also," he added, “playing a concerto in beautiful Gammage Auditorium is a rare and exciting opportunity."

The free concert at ASU Gammage is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Feb. 12. For more information about the ASU School of Music, visit

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


'NannyVan' is latest artist-in-residence at ASU Art Museum

February 10, 2014

The ASU Art Museum presents artist Marisa Jahn and the NannyVan as the next artist-in-residence at the museum’s International Artist Residency Program. NannyVan, which will be with the museum through Feb. 22, is a bright orange, mobile design studio and sound lab that accelerates the movement for domestic worker rights.

With its pull-out seats, colorful design and acoustic recording booth, the NannyVan convenes domestic workers and employers alike to produce and provide new fair care tools. The project began in 2012, when Jahn created a “public art nanny hotline” to inform the more than 200,000 domestic workers in the State of New York of their rights. Then in 2013, after the birth of her son, Jahn recognized the need for new ways to talk to her mom friends – domestic employers – about fair labor practices, and the NannyVan was born. NannyVan Download Full Image

“Project NannyVan is informed by groups like The National Domestic Worker Alliance, the Massachusetts Domestic Worker Coalition and Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employer Association,” explains Jahn. “While advocates have a certain way to discuss the issue with workers, I have found that oftentimes the public needs a different way in to the issue. My goal as an artist is to use craft, humor and playfulness to dismantle apprehensions about a difficult topic.”

During her residency, Jahn will partner with students and faculty from across the university, including the ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the School of Transborder Studies, the School of Social Transformation and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

About the artists

Jahn is the lead artist and co-founder of REV-, a nonprofit studio created in 2009 whose public art projects combine creativity, bold ideas and sound research to address critical issues. They are a self-defined “women and minority-led team of artists, techies, media-makers, low-wage workers, immigrants and teens producing work to impact the issues we face.”

In 2012, REV- created New Day New Standard, a “public art nanny hotline” produced with MIT’s Center for Civic Media that informs the 200,000 domestic workers in New York State about their newfound rights. Users can call using any kind of phone and hear humorous episodes about topics like paying your taxes, overtime wage, trafficking and more. To date, the hotline has received 400 to 1,200 calls a month, media attention from BBC, GOOD magazine and parent blogs, and has been presented at Tribeca Film Institute, The White House and more. Through this, REV- saw how an otherwise sensitive topic was made appealing via the project’s cultural hook.

For more information on REV- and the NannyVan, visit

Related events

All events are free and open to the public.

Artist's Talk with Marisa Jahn
6:30-7:30 p.m., Feb. 11, ASU Art Museum, 10th Street and Mill Avenue, Tempe

ASU Art Museum Season Opening Reception
6:30-7:30 p.m., Feb. 14, ASU Art Museum, Tempe campus 
The NannyVan will be parked outside the museum and open for visitors.

Third Friday Gallery Reception
6-9 p.m., Feb. 20, Combine Studios, 821 North 3rd Street, Phoenix
Presentation of new collaborative work developed with community organizations and ASU students.

About the International Artist Residency Program

Established Feb. 14, 2011, the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program brings accomplished professional artists from around the world to develop new work in partnership with the intellectual resources of Arizona State University and the diverse communities within Arizona. Through the program, artists develop work in collaboration with scientists, technologists, social agencies and community organizations that investigate the pressing issues of our time.

The residency program is housed at Combine Studios in downtown Phoenix, located at 821 N. 3rd Street. Gallery hours are from 6 to 9 p.m. on the first and third Fridays of every month; additional hours are available by appointment. For more information or to make an appointment, call 480.965.2787. 

Juno Schaser

Event coordinator, Biodesign Institute