Students Explore Global Music

UPDATED: Dec. 10, 2012, at 9:38 p.m.

Songs ranging from a Chinese tune that depicts the seven states of being drunk to a rendition of an instrumental piece in the French film “Amelie” filled Dudley House dining hall Sunday night during the World Music Ensemble’s fall concert.

Directed by ethnomusicology student Rujing “Stacy” Huang, the ensemble features twelve students from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, MIT, and the greater Boston area.

Formed in 2002, the ensemble was created to provide a venue for graduate school musicians to play and experiment with international music. Directors, who serves two-year terms, make sure the ensemble’s repertoire reflects a wide variety of cultural influences.

Huang selected Chinese music for Sunday’s concert.

“After I joined, I realized how much I didn’t know [about music],” Huang said. “For me, it’s personally a great pleasure to learn different music. It’s this kind of experimental spirit I really like.”

The group itself is as diverse as its music. Qihan Liu, a third year graduate student in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, whistles for the ensemble.

Since joining, Brad D. Nelms, a cell biology student at GSAS, has played 10 different instruments.

“I like this group because it’s very informal,” Nelms said, who played guitar and fiddle for Sunday’s concert.

Ovul Sezer ’10, a first year student at GSAS and HBS, played the Kanun, a harp-like string instrument.

“I was really surprised and impressed with the welcoming atmosphere and the improv nature,” Sezer said. “Everyone suggests something, and we work together.”

In addition to the World Music Ensemble, Dudley House, the communal home for thousands of GSAS students is a haven for three other active music ensembles: the Jazz Combo/Big Band, Orchestra, and Dudley Chorus.

Although the separate departments can tend to stay within their own fields, the ensembles give graduate students from across the University a chance to perform together, according to African-American music professor Ingrid Monson.

“I really do think performing music is a community experience, so I’m very grateful for Dudley House support,” Monson said.

Susan Zawalich, the Dudley House administrator, agreed to the community aspect of the ensembles.

“They give wonderful performances. All these students always tell me how much it means for them to be in the groups,” she said.

Aaron T. Kuan ’09, a GSAS student, emphasized that the Dudley House ensembles serve as opportunities for students to spend time away from studies and professional life.

“By the time people are in grad school here, they really understand that they love playing music. It really helps people unwind,” Kuan said.

—Staff writer Laya Anasu can be reached at layaanasu@college.harvard.edu.

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