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Spring 2016 First Year Seminar

FSEM 100-13 (CRN 6959) Salsa: Multicultural Music of the Caribbean

Have you ever been to a Latino party? Have you ever listened to salsa? Have you ever danced salsa? What do you know about salsa? This course explores the origin and history of one of the most versatile and popular musical genres of the 20th and 21st centuries. Salsa has transcended the borders of the Caribbean and the entire American continent to European and Asian latitudes because of its complex and irresistible rhythms, its attractive melodies, and its sensual and romantic lyrics. What is the musical power of salsa? What is inside of this contagious rhythm that communes magically with the content of a text? How can performers improvise words and new phrases without departing from the main message? We will examine the different styles of salsa in its various forms and its vocabulary and slangs to identify musical momentums, as well as to recognize their rhythmic structures and sounds. Will you dare to play it, dance it, and sing it?

Your Professor

Jesus Alfonzo is associate professor of music in viola, chamber music and music history at Stetson University, where he also conducts the Viola Consort and leads the Viola Clinic. He is also a member of the Bach Festival Orchestra in Winter Park, Fla., and has been a member of the Rios Reyna String Quartet since 1987. He received a diploma and post-graduate diploma from Juilliard School of Music and master of music and doctorate in musical arts degrees from Michigan State University.

Alfonzo was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He is a founding member of the EL SISTEMA, The Venezuelan National System of Youth Orchestras, in which he had the opportunity to develop both his teaching and playing skills. In 1980 and 1981, he was principal violist of the Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra. Later, he became principal violist of Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 16 years. In his vast orchestral experience he has worked with distinguished conductors and soloists including Claudio Abbado, Gustavo Dudamel, Leonard Bernstein, Jose Antonio Abreu, Maxim Schostakovitch,Kristoff Penderecki, Zubin Mehta, Serge Baudo, Carlos Chavez, Jerzy Semkov, Eduardo Mata, Claudio Arrau, Joseph Silverstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, PinchasZukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, Monserrat Caballe, Jean PierreRampal, Yehudi Menuhin and Henry Szeryng. He has taught in Venezuela at the Conservatorio de Musica Simon Bolivar, the Institute of Musical Studies and the ColegioEmil Friedman.

Since 1998, he has given an annual series of viola and string pedagogy master classes at EL SISTEMA in almost every state of Venezuela. In 2008, he wrote the First Catalogue for Latin American Viola Music.

FSEM 100-14 (CRN 7150) Still Free: The Road to Serenity

“I don’t care, I’m still free,

You can’t take the sky from me.” 

Firefly and the follow-up film Serenity have become cult classics, and their popularity is still growing ten years after the show was cancelled. Part of the Joss Whedon universe, Firefly & Serenity presents us with a thought-provoking and genre-bending space western. We will discuss a wide range of themes found in the stories such as social class, culture, religion, ethics, effects of war, and colonialism, among others. Assignments will respond to the works and critical essays focused on the series and film. Be prepared to have thoughtful conversations, substantive analysis, critical thought, & reflection. Students will need to have consistent, reliable access to Firefly & Serenity (available via Netflix, Amazon, and other sources). NOTE: Prior knowledge of (or an affinity for) the series is not necessary.

Your Professor

Michele Randall holds degrees in Technical Writing (BA), Creative Writing (MA), and Poetry (MFA), and has taught College Writing, Composition, Creative Writing, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction. Her book, Museum of Everyday Life (Kelsay Books) was published in 2015, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming from Painted Bride Quarterly, The Potomac Review, Newport Review (First Prize Flash Fiction), and elsewhere. Her current work focuses on the new-realities of mental health patients and was a finalist for the Peter Meinke Poetry Prize. She appreciates a good sense of humor and has been known to geek out over Dr. Who, Torchwood, Star Trek, and Star Wars.