A hush falls over the crowd as symphony orchestra conductor Danh Pham takes the podium and slowly lifts his baton. With the down stroke, he leads the performers through a seemingly effortless musical journey that enchants the audience and clearly brings Pham great joy.
The associate professor at Washington State University is known for musical selections that embrace not only classical titles but also those by contemporary composers and musicians who were marginalized or undiscovered during their lifetimes.
“In our discipline, it’s really important that we focus on classics, but we have a sense of duty as artists to promote living composers who will become the Beethovens of the future,” he says.
This year, unfortunately, many of Pham’s plans for student orchestras, wind ensembles, and bands have been disrupted or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Five new WSU faculty positions have been created to help promote equity and diversity across the Washington State University System.
The new positions are an integral part of the University’s Racism and Social Inequality in the Americas cluster hire program which was initiated by Provost and Executive Vice President and Professor of Anthropology, Elizabeth Chilton to demonstrate WSU’s commitment to inclusive excellence. The program is designed to address the urgent need for faculty specializing in interdisciplinary research topics associated with equity and diversity.
The following proposals were accepted:
African Diasporas in the Americas (Department of History)
Indigenous Knowledge, Data Sovereignty, and Decolonization (Digital Technology and Culture Program and WSU Tri-Cities)
Music of Black Americans/Music and Social Justice (School of Music)
Racialized Justice in America (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology)
Social and Environmental Justice (School of Design and Construction)
Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies, Lisa Guerrero, associate vice provost for inclusive excellence, will manage the cluster hire program as one of her first initiatives in her new position.
A combination of innovative technology and careful use of practice and performance spaces will enable Washington State University musicians to play together virtually this fall.
“We are going to be a marching band in name only but that doesn’t mean we are going to stop making music,” said Troy Bennefield, associate director of bands and director of athletic bands at WSU. “This is a chance for us to really remind people we are more than just a football band. We are the University’s spirit group, and we are going to keep making music that makes people feel like they are a part of the Cougar community.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced music directors such as Bennefield and Dean Luethi, director of the School of Music and choral activities at WSU, to shift their focus from preparing students for the big live show to helping them work on their musicianship and other fundamental skills individually and in small virtual groups.
The Office of Undergraduate Research at Washington State University has named 32 students, including nine in the College of Arts and Sciences, as recipients of nearly $50,000 in awards in support of their mentored research, scholarship and creative activities for the 2020-21 academic year.
Students received 10 Auvil Scholars Fellowship awards, three Scott and Linda Carson Undergraduate Research awards, four WSU LSAMP Research awards, and 15 general undergraduate research awards. All are students at WSU Pullman with around 20 majors across STEM and non-STEM fields. Awardees include five sophomores, 13 juniors, and 14 seniors; 18 females and 14 males; and, nine first-generation students. Thirteen recipients are members of the WSU Honors College.
The fellowship award-winning students majoring in CAS disciplines are:
Annie Lu, a senior mathematics major mentored by Nikolaos Voulgarakis
Lucas Blevins, a sophomore music composition major mentored by Gregory Yasinitsky
Christopher Huong, a senior psychology and sports science major mentored by Sarah Ullrich-French
Tabitha McCoard, a senior fine arts major mentored by Hallie Meredith
Georgie Rosales, a senior English and psychology major in the Honors College mentored by Rebecca Craft
Olivia Willis, a junior neuroscience and psychology major in the Honors College mentored by Cheryl Reed
Jesús Mendoza, a senior zoology major mentored by Douglas Call
Marcelo Ruiz, a senior mathematics and mechanical engineering major mentored by Jacob Leachman
Krista Brutman, a senior mathematics major in the Honors College mentored by Bertrand Tanner
You’ve read the stories of Washington State University for almost two decades in Washington State Magazine. Now you can listen to them, too, in a new monthly podcast.
Episodes of the podcast, Viewscapes, run about 15 minutes, with three different stories covering a wide variety of topics from around the University.
The first episode has a summer flavor with music, cherries, and those frequent visitors to barbecues: wasps. It features Regents Professor and composer Greg Yasinitsky talking about how he creates and performs music. Yasinitsky also wrote the jazz tunes for the podcast. Other segments uncover the truth about wasps with entomology doctoral student Megan Asche, and dive into a bowl of WSU’s own Rainier cherries with executive chef Jamie Callison.