After studying like mad for a doctoral test at Eastman School of Music, jazz trumpeter Dave Chisholm decided he needed a new outlet for his creative energy. So he spent February through December of 2013 writing and illustrating a 204-page graphic novel. Then he set its seven chapters to music – composing a full-length soundtrack of seven songs to pair with it.
Now, 26 panels from this book, “Instrumental,” will be displayed in a gallery exhibit for his one-man show, “Music Meets Comics,” which runs October 27 – December 5 at Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library. An artist reception where light refreshments will be served will be held Thursday, Oct. 30 from 4:30-6 p.m. Earlier that week, Chisholm will also host a comics workshop at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28 on the second floor of Allen Hall. The exhibit and workshop will serve as a teaser for a coming spring semester course Chisholm will teach as a visiting professor at Keuka College.
“Anytime you do a class like this, people may think ‘How would I draw Batman?’ but really we’re telling stories in pictures and words. In reality, comics are just a medium for telling any story,” Chisholm said.
For many, superheroes serve as the initial gateway into comics, Chisholm said, describing his early interest as a child in the pulp iconography of familiar favorites of the genre. But it didn’t take long for him to move from interest in the superheroes to those drawing the superheroes, to think about their process and how they might think about translating a narrative idea to a 22-page series of drawings with words.
With three degrees in music, including a doctorate in jazz trumpet, Chisholm says his day job is “all things music, with comics thrown in.” In addition to trumpet, he also plays guitar, piano, bass and drums and sings, too. He teaches music lessons and is also an adjunct music instructor at Keuka College. He toured the Western U.S. with a rock band in the years between his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and some of his adventures became part of his first graphic novel, “Let’s Go to Utah” which he described as “inspired by the craziness of touring … where it’s all spread out and you drive through the desert for hours and hours and kind of lose your mind a bit.”
Come spring, Chisholm will be running a full-semester, three-credit course through the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts on comics. Students will explore hands-on the detailed work of traditional ink-on-paper comic book creation. According to Chisholm, the course will cover the finer points of comic book panel composition, page composition, working with scripts, lettering, and character/environment design. The overarching goal of the entire course is training students in clear, communicative, sequential storytelling, he said.
“I’m interested in the mechanics of comics, meaning, how do you pace a story over eight pages? How do you put it together?” Chisholm said, describing a potential panel sequence where a man finds a key lying on the ground, uses it to open a nearby door, and a lion jumps out at him.
“Is the key important? Is the man important? Will we show reactions on his face, or are we using words to show what he’s thinking? It becomes this incredibly rigorous intellectual exercise to communicate any idea or narrative in comics form. It has almost infinite possibilities and that’s inspiring to me,” he said.
Another example he cites is the work “A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge” by Josh Neufeld which documents life and times in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
“He did research, went down several times and kept in touch with people and he happened to tell this story in the medium of comics as opposed to a novel or documentary,” Chisholm explained.
If students were to follow elements of Chisholm’s approach of integrating music into comics, they might start with an exercise of illustrating lyrics, he said, citing Queen’s iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” as example.
“So if the lyrics state: ‘Mama, just killed a man/Put a gun against his head/Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead,’ how do we show this? Is he on the phone with his mom, calling from prison, telling her this stuff? Is it told in flashback?” Chisholm asked.
By the time the course concludes next May, students will each have written and/or drawn 24 character sketches, 24 environment sketches, a 1-panel strip, a 1-page comic, and a 2-3-page comic “book” for the final project, he said. All final project comic books will share a similar theme and will be printed in a collective anthology by the end of the semester.
For more information on registering for the course, students can contact the registrar’s office or visit http://registrar.keuka.edu
The Keuka College Chorale will perform with the University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra Wednesday, Oct. 29.
Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Norton Chapel. The program includes the Overture to The Barber of Seville by Rossini; Symphony No. 41, the Jupiter, by Mozart; and Habanera from Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen.
According to Dr. David Harman, director of orchestral activities and conductor of the University of Rochester River Campus Orchestras, the music for the concert “is a collection of very accessible and popular classical pieces.”
Kelley Hamilton, assistant professor of music and director of music programs is “excited to collaborate with Dr. Harman. He is the consummate musician and an excellent conductor. This concert will give our Keuka College students a rare opportunity to sing with a live orchestra.”
The University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra’s 40 student musicians perform throughout the Rochester community and tours both in the United States and internationally, including Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Italy, Montreal, and Chile. Performing music from the baroque to the contemporary, the chamber orchestra showcases the versatility of the university’s students.
Harman says the concert at Keuka College will be “very uplifting, and filled with delightful melodies and positive energy. Our students and I are excited to return to Keuka College for another collaboration with Professor Hamilton and her singers. Kelley will be the vocal soloist on Habanera, and it will feature the Keuka College Chorale. The Jupiter is Mozart’s final—and perhaps most brilliant—symphonic work.”
Harman earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University at Sacramento, and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. He has also studied at the Aspen Music School, and in Paris as a French Government Scholar.
In addition to his position at the University of Rochester, Harman also serves as music director of the Penfield Symphony Orchestra and music director emeritus of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Keuka College’s Spotlight Series will continue Thursday, Nov. 6 with a poetry reading by Melissa Balmain.
The reading, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the Gannett Room of Lightner Library.
Balmain, an adjunct instructor of English at the University of Rochester, earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. A humorist and journalist, Balmain recently became editor of Light, the country’s oldest journal of light verse, which she helped revive and bring online after 20 years in print. Her subjects have ranged from popular culture to parenthood to cattle ranchers to collies that surf.
Her first full-length poetry collection, Walking in on People, is the winner of the 2013 Able Muse Book Award. Her collection was selected by final judge X.J. Kennedy, who has also been part of the College’s Spotlight Series.
In Walking in on People, the serious is lightened with a generous serving of wit and humor, and the lighthearted is enriched with abundant wisdom. Subjects range from the current and hip (Facebook posts, online dating, layoffs, retail therapy, cell-phone apps, trans fat), to the traditional and time-tested (marriage, child-rearing, love, death), and includes such forms as the villanelle, ballad, triolet, nonce, and the sonnet.
Balmain’s poems have been published in such anthologies as The Iron Book of New Humorous Verse and Killer Verse, and in American Arts Quarterly, Lighten Up Online, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, Poetry Daily, the Spectator (UK), and the Washington Post. Her prose has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and Details, among others. She is a columnist for Success magazine and the author of a memoir, Just Us: Adventures of a Mother and Daughter.
Balmain has won national journalism honors and been a finalist for the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the X.J. Kennedy Parody Award.
Next time you go to your favorite restaurant, you might want to take a second look at the menu. Thanks to On the Menu, a new reality series on TNT, original family recipes will soon be added to 10 different chain restaurants’ menus. On the Menu premiered Friday, Oct. 3, and the Oct. 24 episode will have a Keuka College connection.
Garrett Zur ’09, who is earning his master’s degree at Keuka College, will be one of four amateur home cooks featured on the new show’s fourth installment. He and his fellow cooks will compete to put their family’s recipes on the menus of such restaurant chains as Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and The Cheesecake Factory, among others. One restaurant will be featured for each of the 10 episodes.
“I cannot share what was made, but the challenge for the episode was to create a new decadent dessert for Planet Hollywood,” said Zur, who learned about the competition from Twitter. “I wanted to participate because it is my culinary passion to be on TV and with TNT having a new cooking show, why not be part of that? It is an awesome experience—one like no other. It was such an honor to have this opportunity.”
On the Menu, hosted by Ty Pennington and Chef Emeril Lagasse, who serves as Menu Master, bills itself as the first cooking competition show ever to give viewers at home the chance to taste the dishes they see on screen, as well as give everyday cooks the chance to have their dish appear in restaurants across the country.
Each episode of On the Menu opens on a set that looks like the featured chain restaurant. And like Zur’s favorite cooking show, Food Network’s Chopped, the four cooks must face a series of elimination challenges in order to make it to the final round.
“I like Chopped because it uses ingredients that I sometimes have in my house and it tests my creativity on what I could make,” said Zur. “Plus, any food challenges are fun to watch.”
In the first round, Zur and his competition must demonstrate their understanding of all things Planet Hollywood through an intense preliminary challenge. In the second round, the three remaining cooks must each create their own new dish for the restaurant and serve it to a room full of hungry diners and super fans of the featured eatery, whose votes will determine who moves on to the final round.
But the cooks don’t have to face the challenges alone. Pennington leads competitors through each of the elimination challenges, while Lagasse provides his expertise as a seasoned chef and industry insider, using his vast knowledge of cooking, branding, and sales to help the contestants shape their culinary creations.
After refining and perfecting their dishes based on the comments they receive from the diners in round two, the final two cooks serve their creations to Pennington, Lagasse, and representatives from the featured restaurant, in whose hands the final decision rests.
And if Zur wants his culinary creation on Planet Hollywood’s menu, he will need to rely on the skills he learned from his mother, one of his earliest influences in the kitchen.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved baking. I got my baking ‘gene’ from my mom who taught me the art of baking,” said Zur. “The best lesson my mom taught me was to lick the beaters. She would always say ‘if the batter tastes good, then the cake or dessert will taste good.’”
The hardest part of baking, said Zur, is knowing that it is chemistry. “You have to precisely measure each ingredient or it will not work, unlike cooking where you can eyeball. The easiest part? There are so many simple recipes out there.”
Zur also credits such television chefs as Chef Pasquale Carpino, Rachael Ray, and Debbie Fields—of Mrs. Fields Cookies fame—as impacting his culinary aspirations.
“At age 14, I started watching Rachael Ray. She is my culinary idol—I love watching and learning from her,” said Zur. “She has so many different books, tips, and tricks. I love her cookware and her daytime show. She truly taught me how to cook without needing a lot of direction. Her Cookin’ Round the Clock was the first cookbook I ever got. She didn’t attend culinary school, so she also taught me that you don’t need a culinary degree to pursue the passion of food.”
Armed with that knowledge, and the confidence he gained from making his culinary television debut, Zur is one step closer to making his dream come true.
Added Zur: “One day, I want my own cooking show, but my next step is to complete my master’s degree. Then hopefully, I will appear on more TV shows for cooking. For now, I will spread my ‘fooditude’ to anyone interested.”
Zur’s episode of On the Menu airs Friday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. on TNT.
By College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera
As predictable as students returning to their college classrooms every fall is the attack on the value of a college education—in particular a liberal arts education—in print.
What makes the latest round of punches surprising is the person throwing them. It’s hard to believe that one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy and a graduate of Dartmouth, Oxford, and Yale would pen a piece titled “College is a Ludicrous Waste of Money.”
But that is exactly what Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under President Clinton and current Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley did in a recent issue of Salon.
Professor Reich’s piece came on the heels of “For Some Graduates, College Isn’t Worth the Debt,” written by The Wall Street Journal’s Doug Belkin. In terms of name recognition, Belkin doesn’t pack the wallop Reich does, but his vehicle wields a lot more influence—not to mention readers—than Salon.
Professor Reich gets right to the point, stating that “a four-year liberal arts education is hugely expensive” and “too many young people graduate laden with debts that take years if not decades to pay off.”
As president of Keuka College, I will speak from an independent college perspective only. I disagree with the esteemed Professor Reich. In 2011-12, more than 25 percent of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from a four-year independent college or university did not have any debt at all and the average debt load was $19,500. And here is one of the reasons: independent colleges give students nearly six times as much institutional grant aid as does the federal government.
Belkin weighs in on the debt issue, writing “…one in 10 borrowers is 90 days late on payments.” Perhaps, but the average student loan default rate for independent college graduates is only 5.2 percent.
Belkin states that “roughly a quarter of college graduates with jobs are earning barely more than those with only a high-school diploma.” This is deceiving, since our country is still recovering from a severe economic downturn. But here’s some numbers Belkin did not mention: lifetime earnings of college degree holders range from $700,000 to $1 million more than those who have only a high school diploma.
Professor Reich asserts that “too often in America we equate ‘equal opportunity’ with an opportunity to get a four-year liberal arts degree; it should equate to “an opportunity to learn what’s necessary to get a good job.” You are right on both counts, Professor Reich. A college degree provides the best opportunity to get a good job.
Professor Reich isn’t off base with his contention that “we’ve allowed vocational and technical education to be downgraded and denigrated.” However, to put the blame on “our aspirations to increasingly focus on four-year college degrees” is way off base.
Why do technical and liberal arts educations have to be mutually exclusive? The fact is many liberal arts colleges are infusing some level of vocationalism into their curricula. At Keuka College, we are combining digital with liberal arts. Our graduates will understand the basic canon of our civilization and how to explore and communicate their ideas using modern tools through interactive visual communication, data manipulation and analytics.
As the late Steve Jobs said, “… it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”
I hope that Professor Reich did not write the headline for his opinion piece. It would be ludicrous to believe that one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century, according to TIME magazine, actually believes college is a waste of money.