Listen Forward: New online music series from SUNY New Paltz students and faculty

The Department of Music at SUNY New Paltz has launched an online video series, Listen Forward, designed to showcase diverse forms of music making taking place on campus and in the broader New Paltz community.

Listen Forward is the work of a broad collective of musicians, designers, digital media students and others seeking new ways of sharing their art at a moment when their ability to perform live and in-person has been severely restricted.

Spanning 10 weeks from Sept. 21 to Nov. 30, 2020, content will be presented on the Listen Forward YouTube channel and posted on the Department of Music’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Assistant Professor and Associate Music Department Chair Alex Peh organized an interdisciplinary team of students from programs in music therapy, recording & electronic music, digital media & journalism and graphic design to curate, create and produce this inclusive, online music community.

“We have an emerging vision, one that challenges all of us to learn more about our community in deeper ways to reveal a wider story of the people and music that define our town,” said Peh.

Bennett Lin ’22 (Music – Recording & Electronic Music) says the Listen Forward series will break new ground by spotlighting a wide range of music and musicians from the New Paltz campus and beyond.

“We are looking for something progressive, that showcases the unexpected, beyond what we typically see in a music school,” said Lin.

“Our team has captured sounds that will appeal to a variety of music tastes,” added Charles Burgner ’21 (Music – Recording & Electronic Music). “With jazzy grooves, improvisation, music of Chopin, and original compositions by our own faculty and students, there’s music that everyone will enjoy.”

The first week of Listen Forward features the world premiere of a new composition by Danny Clay in collaboration with Phyllis Chen, assistant professor of music. This piece, entitled “When We Meet Again” (see video above or view it here) is a video and sound collage of graphic scores created in Chen’s Introduction to Music Composition course.

Other features include student and alumni performances; a sampling from the local band scene; performances by piano students from studios throughout the Hudson Valley; and Voices of Unity, the gospel choir led by Ceista Little-Quinn, an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Black Studies.

“In curating this series, we are looking to search beyond the stereotypical music scene,” said Brianna Cordi ’23g (Music Therapy), lead sound engineer and Music Therapy graduate assistant. “We must go into the community and talk to people until we figure out where the music is being made.”

This project was made possible in part thanks to a generous donation from the Julien Studley Foundation, which supported the department’s purchase of needed equipment including video cameras for performers and a new mixer board with 32 inputs.

“We just received a new camera for this project, and it’s a huge improvement over shooting with my iPhone,” said John Stimmel ’20 (Digital Media Production). “It’s awesome because we’ll have excellent image quality to help highlight the musical talent we’re showcasing.”

“It’s been wonderful seeing the musical artistry our fellow students and faculty have offered so far, and I can’t wait to see more,” added Nathaniel Lewis ’20 (Digital Media Production). “It’s great to be a part of the series because even in wild times like these, art and community need to survive.”

Use this link to see the full library of Listen Forward videos, and follow the Department of Music on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.