ASU School of Music grad wins top trumpet position with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

October 19, 2017

Micah Wilkinson, former Arizona State University School of Music student, won the position of principal trumpet of the internationally acclaimed Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for 2017. Wilkinson was a graduate student in trumpet performance at the School of Music in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts from 2007–08 and studied under Regents’ Professor David Hickman.

“I learned an incredible amount from Professor David Hickman during my time at ASU,” Wilkinson said. “One of the most valuable things I learned was how to play to distinguish myself as a musician — to really play, or sing, every note with musical intent. This has been proven true to me repeatedly throughout my orchestral career.” Micah Wilkinson Micah Wilkinson Download Full Image

Wilkinson’s varied career includes orchestral musician, soloist, chamber artist and teacher. He is currently the principal trumpet of the San Diego Symphony, a title he has held since the fall of 2014. Wilkinson previously held positions with the Houston Symphony, acting second trumpet from 2013–14; the San Francisco Symphony, acting second trumpet from 2011–12; the Oregon Symphony, third/utility trumpet from 2008–13; and the Tucson Symphony, third trumpet from 2007-08. 

 “I first met Micah when he was a senior at St. Olaf College,” Hickman said. “Their orchestra toured Arizona and Micah was the featured soloist at a concert I heard at the Chandler Pavilion. I was knocked out by his performance, so I met with Micah after the concert. He played an audition for me, and I knew then that he was going to be a star.”

Wilkinson graduated from St. Olaf College in 2006 and pursued additional studies at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany in spring 2005 and Arizona State University from 2007–08. He is a 2017 teaching artist at the International Round Top Festival Institute in Round Top, Texas, and has participated as a teaching artist at numerous national and international music festivals. He holds the designation of Yamaha Artist and previously served on the faculties of the University of Houston and Portland State University.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


ASU alum hired to help with new initiative promoting equality, inclusion in design, arts

October 18, 2017

Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts has tapped ASU alum Erika Moore to help run one of the first programs of the Herberger Institute’s Projecting All Voices initiative, which aims to give underrepresented groups and first-generation students opportunities for design and arts careers and to explore issues of equality and inclusion in design and the arts.

“As an artist of color, I recognize the lack of diversity in executive levels of leadership in art organizations across the nation and in higher education institutions,” Moore said. “We’re looking at institutional change — to be a place where all people, all artists, are included. Institutional change happens not only by including all artists in streams of support but also through the development and practice of equitable framework in those institutions.” ASU alum Erika Moore Erika Moore (photo by Focus first Photography) Download Full Image

The Projecting All Voices initiative calls for the Herberger Institute to research, design, prototype, implement and disseminate a new system of programs for confronting field-level issues of equity and inclusion in both higher education and the arts. The Ensemble Lab, founded by Institute Professors Liz Lerman, Michael Rohd and Daniel Bernard Roumain, is helping to design the initiative for the Herberger Institute.

“Erika brings lived experience, great collaborative and managerial skills, and a strong point of view to her deep comprehension of working towards an equitable society,” Lerman said. “We are so lucky to have her and will be challenged to reach our aspirations by following her lead. Erika is also a wonderful choreographer, and her artistic practices will inform the way this very important initiative unfolds.”

Moore, originally from Los Angeles, trained at Debbie Allen Dance Academy. She earned both a bachelor's degree in nonprofit leadership and management and an master's degree in dance from ASU. While residing in Arizona she has danced with a variety of companies and produced “Movement Speaks,” which addresses the ban on ethnic studies in the state. In her new role, she will coordinate a program within the Projecting All Voices initiative funded by a $500,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation.

The grant will help establish a cohort of post-graduate fellows, made up of artists from diverse communities. Through the program the fellows will gain access to mentorship, opportunities to develop new work, exposure to key methodologies for expanding their capacities as artists, and opportunities to join conversations about power, race, class, cultural policy and reshaping education and cultural institutes to advance equity and inclusion. Current fellows are Yvonne Montoya, founding director of Safos Dance Theatre based in Tucson, Arizona; Alejandro Tey, a Chicago-based actor, director, writer and teaching artist; and Joel Thompson, a composer, pianist, conductor and educator from Atlanta.

Moore said the program also brings visiting artists to ASU for lectures, performances and workshops as well as to engage in community work with Projecting All Voices and its fellows. Musician, educator and author Ysaÿe M. Barnwell, longtime member of African-American female a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, visited ASU for a weeklong residency with the ASU School of Music earlier this month as the first Projecting All Voices visiting artist.

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator, School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute


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Art under the microscope

October 17, 2017

'Sculpting Science' exhibit — inspired by microscopic images of fungi, termite guts and sugar — opens Oct. 26 downtown

Exploration. Creative observation. Removing the limits of conventional thinking.

These are the words of Arizona State University art students exercising their creative minds as part of “Sculpting Science,” a breathtaking art exhibit with incredible ceramic sculptures, mixed media and drawings influenced by microscopic nature.

In its second showing, 18 artists and nine scientists have paired up to examine the world around us in a whole new way. Undergraduate and graduate students with the School of Art and scientists with the School of Life Sciences explored a variety of subjects under the microscope to find inspiration for new artwork based on their experiences seeing the microscopic world.

“One of the exciting things about this project is that it’s innovative and unexpected — something ASU excels at,” said Robby Roberson, a School of Life Sciences associate professor and microbiologist who studies fungi. “There is a really interesting world that can be seen only through microscopy. The images of something as ordinary as a mushroom can be incredibly exciting when seen under extreme magnification.”

Termite guts, fungi, plants, bones, insects and cells — even sugar and pomegranates — were some of the subjects studied. For the artists, the microscopic images can be invigorating.

“Art students gain valuable skills, such as integrating content into their artwork and interpreting information into visual research, by immersing themselves in science for artistic inspiration,” said Susan Beiner, a ceramics associate professor at the School of Art.

“This rewarding project has grown this year, as students worked directly with a group of life sciences professors in their labs. The students also investigated how their visual interpretations can embody specific ideas of scientific research,” she added.


The “Sculpting Science” exhibit expanded this year to include mixed media and drawings, along with ceramics pieces. Twenty-four fascinating art pieces are slated to be on exhibit, as well as many high-resolution microscopy images.

Amanda Collins, a recent graduate from the ASU ceramics program, said art and science have much in common.

“They both look at the world through new and different perspectives. In many ways, an artist is trying to widen the views of their audience to think and feel in a new or different way, while science strives to widen our understanding of the world around us using new and different means. Both bring to the forefront questions that have not been answered before and seek to enlighten,” Collins shared in her artist profile.

“Sculpting Science” sprang to life in 2014 when professors Roberson and Beiner began a collaborative study examining ceramic surfaces at high resolution by using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Their hope was that these interactions would result in ongoing exchanges of positive and synergistic ideas, creativity and knowledge to produce provocative works of art.

This artwork would then be on display for the ASU and surrounding communities. Another goal was to enrich the lives of ASU students, faculty and the greater community.  Funding for the program is provided by the School of Life Sciences and the School of Art.

'Sculpting Science' exhibit

When: Grand opening 6–9 p.m. Oct. 26. Normal exhibit hours, noon–5 p.m. Oct. 26–28, Nov. 2–4, Nov. 9–11 and Nov. 16–18; First Fridays hours 6–9 p.m. Nov. 3.

Where: Step Gallery at Grant Street Studios, 602 E. Grant St., Phoenix.

Admission: Free.

Details: Learn more here. Earn rewards points by checking in at "Sculpting Science" with your ASU Sun Devil Rewards app, which can be downloaded from Google Play or the Apple App Store.


The following School of Life Sciences faculty and staff shared their labs as part of this project: Robby Roberson, Page Baluch, Nico Franz, Brian Smith, Jason Newbern, Julie Stromberg, Charlotte Johnston, Gillian Gile, Liz Makings and Heather Hutchison Scott. "Sculpting Science" features artwork created by the following ASU graduate and undergraduate students: Colleen Cahill, Nathan Clark, Amanda Collins, Haley Farley, Stephanie Gonzalez, Laura Korch Bailey, Nicole Kudela, Brandi Lee Cooper, Mary Maghee, Tamaki Matsumoto, Hans Miles, Amanda Ohnmacht, Jolleen Oltmanns, Jessica Palomo, Chris Phillips, Ross Quesnell, Emily Ritter, Nicole Davy and Gayle Timmerman.

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First-ever Herberger Institute Day shows students the joy found in a world of arts

October 17, 2017

Workshops ranging from museum talks to design challenges to ghoulish makeup are followed by a community Meal on the Mall

Ever since Dean Steven J. Tepper arrived at ASU, he has been working on a way to bring the diverse students, faculty, staff and alumni of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts together. Given that ASU’s Herberger Institute is the largest comprehensive design and arts college in the nation, with five separate schools and an art museum, the task he set for himself was daunting.

On Oct. 12, together with the advice and support of design and arts faculty and staff, he made it happen.

The first ever Herberger Institute Day began with dozens of workshops offered by all all units — School of Art; School of Arts, Media and Engineering; The Design School; School of Film, Dance and Theatre; School of Music; and the ASU Art Museum. The workshops were open to Herberger Institute students, faculty, staff and alumni, who were encouraged to experiment with subjects outside their usual work and classes.

Video by Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

The workshops ranged from Latin social dance in the Stauffer breezeway to “Sing like an opera singer in one easy lesson!” to a librarian-led workshop on “Art and Music: Creativity in Dark Times.” In between there was laughter yoga, the great cardboard chair challenge and a workshop on queer expressionsThe workshop description: "Camp, drag, disidentification, ambivalence, criminality, utopian and dystopian temporalities — queer artists use tactics like these to challenge normativity. Have you used similar strategies in your own work? This workshop invites artists from all of the schools in HIDA to bring examples of your own work or of artists you admire to share in a dialogue about queer expressions in dance, film, theater, music, art and technology, visual art and design." in dance, film, theater, music, art and technology, visual art and design.

In the “Musical Trash and Toy Circuits” workshop, participants dug through piles of random objects with guidance from Althea Pergakis, from the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, and then made music. It was, as promised in the description, “weird.”

Meanwhile, the museum conducted several workshops based on its popular Escape the Museum events and secret vault tours.

Third-year music education undergrad Katie Demassa, who had never been in the museum before Herberger Institute Day, said the event was “cool. I think I’ll go back (to the museum) now, because it was actually really fun.”

Amy Dicker, a third-year architecture undergrad who also experienced Escape the Museum, agreed.

“You joined little groups, so we got to meet new people,” she said.

Dicker said she hoped Herberger Institute Day would become an annual event, “just for the exposure to different things outside of your school.”

Digital culture undergrad Lisette Borja, who sported what looked like a nasty open wound on one of her forearms, took a behind-the-scenes tour of the costume shop and ghoulish makeup workshop. (The wound she explained, was from the workshop.)

“We got to play with cornstarch, we got to play with food dye … to make gooey bloody wounds and bruises.”

Her favorite part of the day, she said, was getting to spend time in the costume shop.

“I really really love costuming, but I’ve never done anything with it for my major,” shd said. “I liked just being in that area and seeing what the other students in that major were doing.”

It was a sentiment others seemed to share. As one group toured the costume shop, a student said aloud, “OK, this is cool. Why did I not know about this?”

Stephani Etheridge Woodson, faculty in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and director of the Herberger Institute’s Design and Arts Corps, led more than 100 students in a “Find Your People” workshop: Participants were divided into teams, and each team had to complete two challenges as part of its quest. (Sample challenge: Find the COOR covered walkway. Ask someone how they are feeling today. Based on their response, create an indie rock band album cover photo. Photograph it and post it to Instagram.) For the third challenge, the teams had to locate the dean and complete an exercise with him. The final challenge involved individual team members each picking a balloon with a “conversation starter” on it and taking it out into the world so they could continue “finding their people” as they went throughout the day.

Tepper, who had a meeting with ASU President Michael Crow after the exercises with students, took a balloon along for the president. The question on the balloon read, “What makes you feel really alive?” President Crow’s answer: “Waking up in the morning.”

During Herberger Institute Day, the dean did some sketching in a fashion class and dropped in on a choir singing a South African song. He spent time painting a “speed mural” with School of Art Associate Professor Mark Pomilio and dozens of other volunteer painters. Tepper took part in an “Open Air Mattress Talk,” where participants “used their bodies and minds to break down boundaries and have an open conversation about consent and sexual-violence prevention on campus.” He also briefly conducted a brass band.

When the workshops concluded, more than 400 people gathered for the Meal on the Mall. They sat at tables covered in bright paper and worked with specially trained graphic recorders to capture, in pictures, a record of what the day meant to them. They ate box lunches and were entertained by pop-up performances, including climate-change plays led by Micha Espinosa, faculty in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, and lively music from both a jazz ensemble and the brass band, which passers-by were free to conduct themselves.

The brass band, and watching people conduct it, was Gnyanesh Trivedi’s favorite part of the day. Trivedi is a mechanical engineering major doing his master’s degree at ASU, but he has taken introduction to acting at ASU.

“That’s why I’m here at Herberger (Institute) Day,” he said. “I was a part of the plays that they put up for climate change. I played a penguin, passing judgment on humans.”

“I love theater,” Trivedi continued. “I did a little bit of theater back in my home country, which is India. And I wanted to come here and explore what theater in the United States is like. And then being an engineer it gets really painful sometimes. The stress can be overpowering, but with my acting class I really get to explore another dimension of my personality.”

Trivedi echoed those who want to see the Herberger Institute Day become a regular tradition.

“It’s so much fun,” he said. “There’s happiness all around. I think this is something that brings joy to people. This is something that should be shared with as many people as possible on as large a scale as possible.”

So what are the chances of Herberger Institute Day happening again?

“It really depends on popular demand,” Tepper said as things drew to a close. “It was worth it, but it was a lot of work. Seeing everybody smiling and singing together and playing and creating and having a good time and realizing we’re this big creative family, or even this big creative city within ASU — it’s thrilling for me as dean. But I want to make sure everybody wants to do this again, and if they do we’re definitely all behind it.”

The bigger challenge, he said, is figuring out how to more forcefully integrate curriculum.

“We have to give our students more opportunity to explore across the Herberger Institute, we’ve got to develop more research and creative teams that are building out multidisciplinary projects together. We’ve got to build our Design and Arts Corps, which is going to bring students from different disciplines together to activate and engage with community partners.

“(Herberger Institute Day) is kind of a symbol of what’s possible. It’s a way to celebrate together. But we really have to put our shoulder to the wheel and figure out how we live every day in our curriculum and in the way we work and teach and interact and research, how we live that collaboratively and across all disciplines and schools. So we have a lot more work to do. But I think this is a great first step.”

Top photo: Liberal studies sophomore Jonah Ivy (center) enjoys the Latin dance workshop with fellow Herberger Institute students Oct. 12 on the Tempe campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Deborah Sussman Susser

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


ASU West students to spend ‘An Evening with Leslie Odom Jr.’

Award-winning artist to speak about "Hamilton," perform

October 12, 2017

The almost 600 freshman students who started at ASU’s West campus this fall will share in an unconventional experience this month: one of their first college-level discussions will include Broadway superstar of "Hamilton" fame, Leslie Odom Jr.

Each year, as part of the Summer Community Read program, incoming West campus freshman are required to read a selected book in preparation for analytical discussions in an academic setting. Then, someone with a connection to the reading material is brought in to speak with students. Broadway superstar of "Hamilton" fame, Leslie Odom Jr., will speak and perform at ASU's West campus. Download Full Image

“To me, it’s such an important event because it gives instructors, staff, students a way to talk to people initially, when they first get here and throughout the semester,” said Anne Suzuki, assistant dean of enrollment services for the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. “And plus, we really like to bring in the community … and to bring different groups of people together to appreciate this particular (musical).”

This year’s required reading was "Hamilton: The Revolution," by Lin Manuel Miranda, and the special guest is Odom Jr.

The Grammy and Tony-award winning artist who played Aaron Burr in the musical’s original cast, will come to Glendale Oct. 16 to discuss the book and answer students’ questions. Odom Jr. will also perform a concert at the West campus. 

Suzuki said the program is designed to give students a common experience before they get to campus, and build community.

“We always hope that students can connect more with the person and bring what they read alive, and make it more real,” Suzuki mused. “And they can ask deeper level questions.”

"Hamilton: The Revolution," was co-written by Jeremy McCarter and Miranda, who also wrote the book, music and lyrics for "Hamilton" and starred in its original cast. It explores the background, music and making of the musical.

The musical's ability to attract students of different majors and perspectives is another reason Suzuki’s team felt it would be a good fit.

“I think it gives (students) a platform to be able to talk about difficult topics that might be in the news right now or historically, and it’s an okay, hopefully safe environment for people to have exciting conversations,” she added. “I think because it’s so modern, first year students may feel like it’s more exciting to read about it than if we just did something more traditional.”

Following the discussion, Odom Jr. will perform a concert showcasing the music from "Hamilton" and his own jazz album. “An Evening with Leslie Odom Jr.,” starts at 7:30 p.m. in the West campus’s La Sala Ballroom. Tickets are available here.

Several other educational opportunities are available to students and the community, including "Burr, Hamilton and the Drama of America’s Founding," a special night to explore the explosive relationship between Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the wider drama of America’s founding.

This discussion will feature acclaimed historian Nancy Isenberg, author of "Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr," and Hamilton scholar Peter McNamara of ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

The free panel is at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 and registration is available at

"Hamilton" will run at ASU Gammage Jan. 30–Feb. 25. Tickets will go on sale in December. For more information visit

Marketing and Communications Assistant, ASU Gammage


ASU’s School of Music opera and musical theater program recognized for excellence

October 12, 2017

The AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence, Arizona's awards for outstanding theater, recognized Arizona State University's excellence in theatrical productions and individual performances during its 27th annual awards ceremony Sept. 25 at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

ASU’s School of Music Lyric Opera Theatre took home seven awards for its 2016–2017 production of “The Magic Flute,” which received nominations in all 13 musical categories and won the award for best overall musical production. Cast members of Lyric Opera Theatre's "The Magic Flute" Cast members of "The Magic Flute." Download Full Image

Brian DeMaris, artistic director of Lyric Opera Theatre and associate professor in the School of Music, won the award for best music direction for “The Magic Flute.” This is DeMaris’ third year as artistic director for Lyric Opera Theatre and second year winning the award for best musical direction.

“The greatest strength of our opera and musical theatre program at ASU is the students,” DeMaris said. ​“It is so easy and wonderful to work with such impressive young talent. Not only the cast members on stage, but also the orchestra students are among the best I've worked with at any institution.”

He said many of the students, singers and instrumentalists already have lots of professional experience in Phoenix and beyond, which provides the unique opportunity for everyone to work at a professional level while still helping to train and elevate students in their skills.

“The Magic Flute” received the most nominations of any Lyric Opera Theatre production for the 2016–2017 season.

“I think the opera plays to our strengths, which are that we have a lot of superbly trained vocalists who are also terrific actors and have experience in both opera and musical theater, as ‘The Magic Flute’ is a piece that even in 1791 was a true ‘theater’ piece, not a full grand opera,” DeMaris said.

He said involving cross-disciplinary elements in the design, overseen by Alfredo Escarcega, technical director senior for Lyric Opera Theatre, is something that helped the production resonate in the 21st century.

“We were fortunate to have Zoe Crow, a student from the School of Film, Dance and Theatre who brought her expertise in media design, matched by the sound design of Derek Stevenson, a student from the School of Arts, Media and Engineering,” DeMaris said.

DeMaris said Dale Dreyfoos' stage direction balanced the worlds of fantasy-comedy and serious drama regarding the ideals of the Enlightenment and a particularly strong cast were heroic in putting the time in to this unusually long and difficult opera.

Faculty, students and alumni of ASU’s Lyric Opera Theatre program received 20 nominations in all award categories and seven of those nominees received awards.

“I think this speaks to the strength of our program as a whole as well as the growth we've been working toward in our technical production process,” DeMaris said. “Our faculty and staff team in the department has been excellent in trying new things, and the students have been terrific in sharing ideas as well as working hard to help ensure that all we do is at the highest level. We have an abundance of talented students, faculty and staff, and people with ideas, energy, drive and a passion to really make our program better each day.”

DeMaris said the audience has returned in full after several years of poor ticket sales and he is excited about the future of the theater’s program.

“We had multiple sold out performances of every single production last year, which is very exciting,” he said. “People know that what's going on here is excellent and they want to be a part of it.”

Individual award winners for Lyric Opera Theatre’s “The Magic Flute” include:

• CodyRay Caho, actor in a major role in a musical
• Melanie Holm, actress in a supporting role in a musical
• Dale Dreyfoos, director of a musical
• Zoey Crow, artistic specialization in media design
• Derek Stevenson, best sound design

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


'The Nether' tackles morality in virtual reality

ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre launches ‘intense’ sci-fi crime drama this weekend

October 10, 2017

Welcome to the Nether — a network of virtual reality realms. Plug in. Choose an identity. Indulge your every whim.

But can you really have a world without consequences?   Download Full Image

That’s one of the questions Arizona State University's School of Film, Dance and Theatre explores in its production of critically acclaimed sci-fi crime drama “The Nether” by Jennifer Haley, which opens this weekend.

“It’s a very intense production driven by incredible attention to artistry and craft, from the acting to the script to the production values,” said Tiffany Ana Lopez, director of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “The subject matter is very bold and provocative, bordering on disturbing — by design.”

In this near-future thriller, the internet has evolved into The Nether, a virtual space complete with sensory immersion. A young detective discovers The Hideaway, a realm in the Nether that offers a disturbing brand of entertainment. Her mission to apprehend the creator of “The Hideaway” leads to a tense interrogation of the darkest corners of the human imagination. 

At The Hideaway, Mr. Sims, a self-confessed pedophile, welcomes guests to a Victorian home where they spend time with virtual children. The children are avatars — adults in the real world.

“This play deals specifically with pedophilia but it’s also asking bigger questions about what happens when we go online,” said Mary Townsend, who plays the detective. “What lines do we draw and what’s right or wrong when things are virtual versus when they’re real?”

Lopez says the play addresses violation of boundaries, both emotional and physical.

“The play touches on themes and presents scenes that can be triggering for those of us who have had experiences where our boundaries have been violated,” she said. “The play takes us into an arena where we become very conscious of the gray areas of boundaries and how they can be violated.”

Lopez says while seeing the show may be difficult for some, the “playwright wants to provoke us to think about our role as witnesses and have a conversation about public accountability.”

William Partlan, the director of the play and associate professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, said the themes are “particularly cogent and relevant to our current world.”

“The play takes place in a world not so far in the future from our own, where climate change has taken its toll on the real world to the degree that poplar trees are hard to find and clothes made from cotton would be a very expensive item,” he said. “In fact, even as we rehearsed, major hurricanes and other natural disasters were taking place, and we read articles about a corporation deciding to put microchips into the hands of its employees so they log on without having to do anything to identify themselves.”

He said that while the essence of the play is disturbing, it’s in the service of a powerful piece of theater.

“It’s the kind of show that asks lots of questions that are worth asking — and answers none of them. It should send our audience out into the world with lots of questions and lots of things to think about. As a piece of theater, that’s a really good thing to do.”

J. Casalduero says these tough questions and the playwright’s intelligent reflections are exactly why he wanted to play the role of Mr. Sims. 

“Every step forward humanity has ever taken has been outside of some sort of comfort zone.”

'The Nether' 

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13–14, 19–21; 2 p.m. Oct. 15 and 22.

Where: Lyceum Theatre, ASU's Tempe campus.

Admission: $16 for general admission; $12 for ASU faculty, staff and alumni; $12 for seniors; $8 for students. Purchase tickets online or call the Herberger Institute Box Office at 480-965-6447.

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator, School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute


ASU Regents' Professor honored by Princeton conference

October 5, 2017

In a tribute to his impact on studies of medieval Chinese Daoism, former students of Arizona State University Regents' Professor Stephen Bokenkamp, have organized a conference in his honor. The Oct. 6 event will include speeches by Bokenkamp’s colleagues in the field and a presentation by Bokenkamp himself.

“They’d been talking to my wife secretly for a long time and already organized this,” said Bokenkamp, from the School of International Letters and Cultures. “It’s not just my students who will be there, it’s my colleagues from all over the world.” Stephen Bokenkamp Regents' Professor Stephen Bokenkamp will attend a conference in his honor at Princeton University. Download Full Image

The conference is titled, “The Way and the Words: Religion and Poetry in Medieval China, a Conference in Honor of Professor Stephen Bokenkamp” and will take place at Princeton University.

The event description cites that “Bokenkamp’s scholarship has been groundbreaking for bringing together the many cross-currents of religious, intellectual, and literary traditions that are usually studied separately.”

Bokenkamp has taught at SILC for the last 10 years, but he taught the former students in charge of the conference, Anna Shields and Gil Raz, at Indiana University. Shields now teaches at Princeton University, Raz at Dartmouth College.

“This is a small field I work in, the field of Chinese Daoism and Chinese religion more generally,” Bokenkamp explained, “I’ve always tried to make sure my students coordinate and work well with each other, have a rapport. So the very first thing I wanted to do was make sure my students from ASU and more recently graduated ones from Indiana show up and have a chance to meet all these people.”

At least two ASU students will attend the conference with Bokenkamp.

Studying Daoism requires people to shift their understanding of religion, Bokenkamp explained, exploring an entirely different cultural mindset.

His students speak and read Chinese, read classical Chinese and learn Japanese.

“I started during the cultural revolution [in China] when they were trying to destroy this stuff,” Bokenkamp said. “I started with a mission in mind. This is not just a part of China’s cultural heritage, this is world cultural heritage, and someone needs to preserve it.”

Gabriel Sandler

ASU Music Therapy Clinic announces inaugural showcase and fundraiser

September 27, 2017

Recognized as the No. 2 educational clinic in the nation, the Arizona State University Music Therapy Clinic in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Music changes lives one note at a time.

The clinic will hold its inaugural Music Therapy Clinic Showcase and Fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 5 at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. Students and faculty at Music Therapy Clinic session Students, faculty and community members participating in a Music Therapy Clinic session. Download Full Image

The showcase and fundraiser will feature an evening of memorable performances by current and former Music Therapy Clinic students and clients, and a recognition of community partners and student leaders. Ticket purchases will directly support the services provided through the clinic to promote learning, health and positive change by funding community ASU music therapy programs.

“This signature annual event provides an opportunity to bring the community together once a year to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and community members,” said Frank Thompson, faculty associate in the music therapy program.

The nationally renowned music therapy program in the ASU School of Music brings over 40 years of music and academic excellence into today’s clinical and technological health-care environment. The program is socially embedded in the community and serves a variety of clients — from children with disabilities and Alzheimer's patients to kids living in group homes and veterans — seeking optimal quality of life through therapeutic music experiences.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the Kerr Cultural Center for $25; online at Ticketmaster (additional fees apply); or by calling Kerr at 480-596-2660 (additional $1.50 per ticket fee). Students with an ASU ID may purchase one ticket per ID for $15.

Sponsorships are available for purchase at Ticketmaster by Sept. 30:

  • Silver — $200: Includes 8 tickets, sponsor’s logo in the program and a sponsor certificate
  • Gold — $250: Includes 10 tickets, sponsor’s logo in the program, a sponsor certificate and verbal recognition at the event
  • Platinum — $500: Includes 20 tickets, sponsor’s logo in the program, a sponsor certificate, verbal recognition at the event and front row seats
Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


ASU Regents' Professor's new photography book spotlights Chicano community

September 27, 2017

For 52 years at Arizona State University, David William Foster has studied a myriad of subjects related to Spanish, women and gender studies, Latin American urban culture, and the Jewish diaspora, publishing over 100 books. Most recently, as a Regents' Professor at the School of International Letters and Cultures, he has turned his eye to Chicano photography, using 10 photographers as a window into an important community.

“Description of the universe is child’s play compared to description of the human soul,” Foster said. Photography, he has found, does a decent job describing it. David William Foster Download Full Image

“The book, ‘Picturing the Barrio,’ corresponds to my interest in developing visual studies in Latin America cultural studies,” Foster said. “I’ve done this through film, I’ve done this through theater and now I am interested in doing it through photography.”

Foster sees a lack of academic work on Latin American photography in the United States. This most recent book on Chicano photography is his third. His son often drives him through Phoenix communities for Foster’s own photography, finding images that reflect Chicano life. Many of his previous books have focused on Phoenix and the Southwest, but “Picturing the Barrio” covers artists around the country.

“Photography is a very democratic form of art. Anyone can be a photographer. All you need is a cellphone these days,” Foster said. “There’s an immense photographic record for Latin America but very little in the way of systematic, academic studies.”

While the actual photography is central to Foster’s book and research, he wants to give people the tools to look at the images in a substantive way, without telling them what exactly to see. He compares it to literacy, in that without learning to read, words on a page have no meaning.

“You don’t naturally see anything,” Foster explained.

In his book, Foster examines the transition of rural Hispanic and Latino communities to urban life. He sees customs and roots continuing on in city life as generations adapt and grow accustomed to new surroundings.

“The material reaffirms the intensely intimate nature of Chicano life,” Foster said. “Chicano culture has a lot to teach us about how to be human being.”

Acknowledging it can be elusive and complex, Foster said that studying culture is “the hardest science,” but sees it as equally valuable and engaging as any other field of study.

“[I'm] passionate about the value of art as a way of describing the human condition,” he said.

Read more about Foster’s research and publications here.

Gabriel Sandler