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November 09, 2001 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-09

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Hollywood Hoedown...
M-Flicks presents the 1994 Coen
Brothers classic, "The Hudsucker
Proxy" at the Natural Science
Auditorium. 7 and 9 p.m. $3.
michigandaily.com /arts


NOVEMBER 9, 2001

Iranian cult
By Ryan Blay
Daily Arts Writer
Susan Atefat Peckham has led a rich and
diverse life: Born in New York City to first-gener-
ation Iranian immigrants, she has lived in the
United States, Iran, Switzerland and France. She
now resides in Holland, Mich. where she teaches

Atef at
Shaman Drum
Tonight at 8 p.m.

English at Hope College.
She recently published her
first collection of poems,
"That Kind of Sleep," to
critical acclaim, winning
the National Poetry Series
Award. Before departing
for Ann Arbor for her
reading here tonight, she
was kind enough to chat
with The Michigan Daily.
What brought you to
Michigan, and how do you

ure figures
some of his work in your collection. What special
significance, if any, does he hold for you?
SAP: I think he [Rumi] holds significance for
many Americans. I think Rumi is a connection for
many Americans into Middle Eastern tradition.
He's a nice bridge between the west and the east.
TIMD: Could you talk a little bit about return-
ing to Iran after living in the U.S., France and
SAP: I used to travel back and forth ... until
1978 but then the revolution cane. Iran became
an Islamic state and travel became difficult. Then
came the war with Iraq; I didn't return for 16
years. The people were devastated by war. When I
returned, I had to re-acclimate to a new culture
and family. I love my heritage, and there are many
beautiful things about the Middle East and Iran.
It's unfortunate that we are hearing negatives
because of what happened. That's hard for me to
see. All they know is Al-Qaeda, violence. By
reading, I can bring the knowledge I have.
TID: Obviously, the culture of Iran differs
significantly from the United States, especially in
its treatment of women. How were you treated
when you went there?
SAP: If you follow the laws,you are fine. No
one will bother you if you wear the garb. They ask
that you wear the traditional scarf, but Iran doesn't
require a veil. Women there say that it's OK. Iran
is in a stat4 of flux between hardliners and the
moderates. There are countries that treat women

prominently for poet
worse than Iran. In Iran, women can be lawyers, collection.
doctors, judges, hold authoritative positions - TMD: Did your aunt in fact have a gun placed
not like the Taliban. When you go to a country, I to her stomach for crossing a street?
believe in respecting traditions. It also made a dif- SAP: It was during the very hard period after
ference that I knew I could leave. I don't know the revolution. Iran was questioning it's identity,
that I could live there. how to conduct itself. There came to be a kind of
TMD: Your poems are very family-centered revolutionary police. My aunt went down a wrong
and personal. Are there one or two in particular street. I'm not sure why it was the wrong street, I
that stand out as especially significant for you? was young at the time. Iran has never had, at least
SAP: My personal favorite is the first poem, in my generation, a period of history quite like
"Marvari: Pearl Tree." That was the first poem I that. The king (the Shah) was too Western for
wrote where I took myself seriously as a poet. I many people. He required mandatory western
was going to be a doctor, but my husband said to dress. He banned the chador (a traditional prayer
he, "you ought to think about doing this serious- outfit). Devout women were upset.
ly." It was also my first poem after my 16-year TIMID: Your grandparents always seem to be
absence from Iran. I was trying to bring back present in your poems, and no doubt were signifi-
things I was missing. cant in your early life.
TMID: In "Avenue Vali Asr," you discuss a bus SAP: Grandparents, in Iran are venerated. The
ride in Tehran and mention Rosa Parks. Was the family structure is geared toward honoring your,
incident described in the poem based on a person- elders. My grandfather was involved in reconcili-
al experience? ation. If there was a village dispute, they would
SAP: Yes. The Islamic state says men and turn to him to solve it. My grandmother was the
women should maintain separate spaces to keep matriarch. She was the spiritual sense, spiritual
lust out. It's also safer for women. What ends up feeding. I've lost something there that I'm trying
happening is that it's restrictive; -everything,-is sep- to get back through the poems ...
arated. The bus was one third women, and two TM D: What made you decide to write this col-
thirds reserved for men, but the women are tradi- lection? This is your first collection. Why did you
tionally the caretakers and ride the bus more choose now to publish?
often. There were very few men on the bus and SAP: When you start writing, it comes from an
we were packed. This poem was actually rejected angle you don't expect to happen to you - poetry
by three major journals. It finally made it into a happened to me. When I started writing, I never


enjoy teaching?
SUSAN ATEFAT-PECKHAM: I came to Michigan
for the job offer ... I've taught for eight years. I
started at the University of Nebraska. I love teach-
ing, it invigorates writing, but it's a huge time
commitment. I mostly write in the summer and on
TMD: The title of your work comes from the
(13th century Afghani) poet Rumi. You also use

courtesy of Hope College
Susan Atefat Peckham visits Shaman Drum.
thought I'd have a book. When I gave up medi-
cine, that's the first time I thought I could have a
manuscript. Not a book, a manuscript. When I
found out I won the National Poetry Series award,
I was in complete shock. I was humbled, com-
pletely surprised ... I'm thrilled. I'm glad I have a
voice. A small voice, but still a voice.
TID: Well, since you ruined my last question,
I'll just have to come up with another to close this.
Do you have any other writing planned?
SAP: (Laughs). I have a book of essays under
consideration. I'm working on a second collection
of poems. I also have an anthology of Middle
Eastern writing under consideration. I need to
write. It's like breathing, you can't live any other


Jazz artist Wolff brings his
'Impure Thoughts' to the Bird

Men's Glee Club to
showcase spirituals,
alma mater at Hill

By Denis Naranjo
Daily Arts Writer
Michael Wolff fondly recalls forma-
tive days when

club today and tomorrow amidst a
national tour.
"My inspiration goes back to the end
of high school and college. My teacher
Bill Mathers, at San Francisco State in
the 1970s, and quality time spent with
Hungarian, African and Pygmy music,"
said Wolff by telephone from his New

Bird of Paradise
Tonight and Tomorrow
9 & 11 p.m.

first encountering
sounds of tabla
and African
world beat.
Today it explains
why his percus-
sive piano greets
him in artistic
overdrive. Then
again, there's
nothing ordinary
and predictable
about Wolff's
palette in piano


Last year marked Wolff's eponymous
debut Impure Thoughts, a recording
hailed by critics as one the year's best in
jazz. With Intoxicate (both on Indianola
Music Group), Wolff dishes up more
arrays of Indian drone, jazz and rhyth-
mic accentuation. Artistic momentum in
hand, his Impure Thoughts sextet sails
into Ann Arbor's Bird of Paradise jazz
Diverse P(

York home.
"When I heard tabla and African
beats I knew right then this was a good
match. My friend John Cartwright
worked in New York With Harry Bela-
fonte alongside musicians like Hugh
Masekela and Miriam Makeba. I-e
agreed, it would be a great idea."
Wolff's varied experience was anoth-
er factor. Career credentials blossomed
from straight-ahead jazz (Cannonball
Adderley, Nancy Wilson, Cal Tjader),
hip acclaim in Tinseltown as the "Arse-
nio Hall Show" music director and scor-
ing independent movies ("The Tic
Code," "Made Up"). As a solo jazz
artist, he's released seven records the
past 10 years.
What pianist-composer-arranger
Wolff calls redeeming today is playing
music the way he's always heard it -
on the road, around the world, while
:rformers r

finding inspiration from cultural vistas.
"In the past I released some great
straight-ahead albums but I felt I was
just marking time," he said. "So these
world beat influences came at the right
time, a precise concept to use with my
band. From travels to places like Portu-
gal, Paris and South America I always
kept the music door wide open."
Impure Thoughts boasts top-drawer
sidemen in Indian tabla master Badal
Roy, percussionist Frank Colon, bassist
John B. Williams (his Arsenio Hall days
bandmate), saxophonist Alex Foster
(Mingus Big Band) and drummer Victor
Jones. Wolff emphasizes group interplay
and variations are integral ingredients.
"As a pianist and arranger, I find I'm
shaping what's coming from the band.
We improvise from a starting baseline,
but audiences affect our musical direc-
tion. So I'm balancing interaction with
performance," he said.
From his storied arranging days with
Wilson and Hall, he honed skills for
melding orchestral layers with the
piano's invariable percussive side. It
afforded him acoustic freedoms, explor-
ing rhythmic variation and melodic tex-
ture at every compositional turn.
e-create clas

Courtesy oT Inaanola Music Uroup
Piano Jazz artist Michael Wolff.
On Intoxicate Wolff constructs a cre-
ative package of tension and release.
Tracks like Wayne Shorter's "Witch
Hunt" show how Wolff spirals around
Williams' repeating bass pattern. Offer-
ing density within a post-modernist
approach to keyboarded improvisation,
he spiced the mix with doses of Wurl-
itzer electric piano and organ.
Elsewhere, Wolff's musicality puts
acoustic piano center stage on transcen-
dent grooves, all underscored by exoti-
cism served up by Roy's tabla and
Colon's Brazilian percussion. Variety
looms large in a compelling rework of
Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," plus
the supreme meditative glisten of Lee
Morgan's "Sidewinder."
sic 'Orfeo


or perhaps you've
away notes as you
Hill Auditorium
Saturday at 8 p m.
their 142nd Annual

caught a few fly
walked past their
Either way, if
you have had the
opportunity to
hear the Men's
Glee Club you
know that they
are some of the
most talented
and dedicated
students on cam-.
pus. Tomorrow
at 8 p.m. they
will take the
stage at Hill
Auditorium in
Fall Concert with

By Rachel Lewis
Daily Arts Writer
You may have heard their voices
echoing through the Diag on Monday,

years, FitzStevens said the Friars
always succeed in getting the crowd
excited because "they're so funny and
Organized in 1859, the Men's Glee
Club is the second oldest collegiate
chorus in America and the oldest stu-
dent organization on the Michigan
campus. They boast an unrivaled rep-
utation, having performed at the
White House and in concerts through-
out the nation and the world in loca-
tions as diverse as Eastern Europe and
the Far East.
While this is definitely a hard act to
follow, Blackstone promises that
Notre Dame's Glee Club is a "wonder-
ful musical ensemble." He said, "they
were here several years ago for one of
our April concerts and it's a great
privilege to have them back."
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the
night for many will be that most of the
show was organized by the students
themselves. FitzStephens says he
expects his peers to "be very
impressed with the musical ability of
the Glee Club:'
Just as these hard-working young
men have earned their reputation, so
has the tradition that began 142 years
ago earned its place in Michigan his-
tory. For many university music-
lovers, the Fall concert is a highlight
of their year, one they can depend on
for a night of music, entertainment
and Michigan pride.


By Janet Yang
Daily Arts Writer

This weekend, the
Orfeo ed
Michigan Theater
Tonight at 8 p.m.

University Musical Society and the Peter Sparling Dance
Company will be performing Christoph Willibald Gluck's
opera "Orfeo ed Euridice." This collaboration mixes
aspects of the Ann Arbor art community including the Ann
Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the UMS Choral Union, as
well as a few students that are recent graduates of the Uni-
versity of Michigan's School of Music. Renowned opera
stars such as Ewa Podles, Isabel Bayrakdarian and Lisa
Saffer are also performing in this one of a kind opera/dance
Gluck wrote "Orfeo" in 1762 in an attempt to return
opera to its original simple structure with music that was
closely connected with the drama. The story is a mytholog-
ical classic, the story of a man, Orfeo, whose wife Euridice
dies and is sent to Hades. Orfeo then pleads with the god of
love, Amor, for a chance to return his beloved wife back to

and then lead her back into the living world without looking back at her once
along the journey. "Orfeo ed Euridice" at the Michigan Theater this weekend is
unique in the telling of this story. Not only is it an opera, but it also features
dance, offering something for both the ears and the eyes.
As a highly professional and innovative project, "Orfeo" has yielded many
opportunities for School of Music students to participate. Students were very
involved in the creative process of developing the opera, with some on stage and
others performing. Pei Yi Wang, a School of Music student and Loren Allardyce
and Kathryn Alexander, recent graduates, are acting in title roles tomorrow, tak-
ing over the positions performed on other days by Podles, Bayrakdarian and Saf-
Wang, who is performing the role of Orfeo tomorrow, describes the music in
"Orfeo ed Euridice" as "very beautiful ... it's hard to sing but I love it because
it's so emotional and dramatic." She also describes the show as a whole as "a dra-
matic unity of all kinds of singing, dancing, orchestra and everything."
Wang is also excited about working with such diverse groups of performers,
such as the Peter Sparling Dance Company and the Ann Arbor Symphony
Orchestra. "This is my very first time working like a professional singer and
working with a professional dance company. Each part just works for the unity
for the whole opera and for me it's a great opportunity," she said.
This is the first project that the UMS has produced. UMS President Kenneth
C. Fischer said, "It's a pleasure to be a part of this inspirational project. 'Orfeo ed
Eurdice' is a true community collaboration, which embodies UMS's three most
important goals: Presentation, education and creation. This is the first time in the
history of Ann Arbor that local arts organizations have joined forces to work
together, making this collaboration unprecedented in its size and in the scope of
its vision."

special guest, The University of Notre
Dame Glee Club.
The Club's musical director, Jerry
Blackstone, has chosen a diverse
repertoire for this year's concert, with
songs ranging from Russian classical
pieces to Southern Baptist spirituals.
School of Music junior and Glee Club
member Tom FitzStephens said, "the
concert has a wide range of emotions
expressed," with both somber, pensive
songs and more playful, exciting ones
as well.
As is tradition, the maize and blue
enthusiasts will have plenty to keep
them cheering, with performances of
a series of songs written by Theodore
Morrison, a University professor and
one by Stephen Chapman, a Universi-
ty alum. This is in addition to the sta-
ple inclusions of the University fight
song and alma mater.
This year should be especially spir-
ited due to the guest performance of
Notre Dame's Glee Club that will no
doubt stir up some rivalry between the
two groups. The singers hope to make
this a fun aspect of the show, by both
groups taking on the challenge of per-
forming the other school's alma mater.
For many students, choral music is
not their idea of a rocking concert, but
the Men's Glee Club has covered all
their bases.
The friars are an a cappella octet
selected from within the group that
performs popular rock, pop and jazz
songs. Mixed with their unique brand
of humor and showmanship that has
entertained audiences for over 40


him. Amor gives him the opportunity to go to Hades but Orfeo must find his wife
I What do you call a situation where I


everyone wants to run your life?
4 l
r 6l {t



courtesy 01
Jerry Blackstone conducts tonight.


Artcarved representatives will be at the
U of M Grad Fair Nov. 7th-9th 11-5 pm
to take your ring and announcement order, -

U of M Men's
Glee Club
Directed by Jerry Blackstone
Presents its 142nd annual
fall concert

Tug A


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