Scope Spring 2010

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14 Zankel from A to Z


FEATU RES: Ar thur Z a nke l Musi c Ce nte r

14 THE AN N OTATE D ZAN K E L Floor plans give a guided tour through the specialized new facility


music learning

How the educational process responds to bricks and mortar (and windows and wires)

19 D OLCE , CON BR IO, BR ILL AN TE Sweet, alive, and bright describe the acoustics of the Ladd Concert Hall—and its role in the arts scene

23 WIR E D FOR SOUN D The Zankel offers media and info-tech resources galore


great hall



6 deducing Victor Cahn 23 command center

ON THE COVER: The Zankel lights up the arts quad on a winter’s night. (Photo by Sam Brook ’12)

Scope SPRING 2010 Volume 40, Number 3



Dan Forbush EDITOR

Susan Rosenberg A S S O C I AT E E D I T O R


Mary Monigan DESIGNERS

Michael Malone Maryann Teale Snell WRITERS

Kathryn Gallien Bob Kimmerle Barbara Melville Maryann Teale Snell Andrea Wise EDITORIAL OFFICES

Office of Communications Skidmore College 815 North Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 phone: 518-580-5747 fax: 518-580-5748 online: SKIDMORE COLLEGE

Main number: 518-580-5000 Alumni Affairs and College Events: 518-580-5670 Communications: 518-580-5733 Admissions: 518-580-5570 or 800-867-6007 Scope is published in January, April, and September by Skidmore College for its alumni, parents, and friends. Printed on recycled paper (10% postconsumer)


Influential professors I wanted to write regarding the article about alumni relationships with professors (“Permanent Record,” winter Scope). I have had the pleasure of maintaining my friendship with Prof. James Kettlewell since I graduated with a BA in art history in 1997. James helped me land my first job after college, at an auction house in New York City, and fully supported my decision to become a teacher. With his help I went to Teachers College and found a career teaching history, art history, and Chinese at the high school level. Now I am applying to PhD programs in art history and have been in close contact with him. I am fortunate to share many interests with him (although he has about a gazillion) including Asian art, Italian painting, architecture, “junk” and antique hunting, and the outdoors. I’ve delighted in our many talks about art, the antiques market, Saratoga history, and life in general. After his “retirement” from Skidmore, he remained active and began to explore new topics in his scholarship. James is both an excellent educator and a passionate scholar—an ideal mentor for someone like me. He truly shaped my career and inspired my love of learning. Ally Montana ’97 Los Gatos, Calif.

I was interested by the winter Scope’s report on the Ciancio Teaching Award recipient. As a senior American-studies major, I took a course with Mary Lynn (not yet a PhD) in her first semester at Skidmore. You can never be sure about young, new instructors, but it was clear from the get-go that she was a talented teacher, and I was as engaged in her class as in any that I had taken. Nevertheless, on the eve of the midterm I knew I was in trouble. Studying for it, I had difficulty bringing the material together, and the next day was every student’s nightmare: Sitting with my blue book before me, I was completely blank. I managed to fill a few pages and awaited the inevitable failure with dread (I was no scholar, but I maintained respectable grades).

Dr. Lynn’s “please see me” note gave me an opportunity to explain, and I left our meeting knowing that I had had a considerate hearing. I did well in the rest of the semester, but I was still surprised that my earlier collapse was not a factor in my final grade. Dr. Lynn’s fairness and understanding is one of my most memorable educational experiences and, if it had been up to me, she would have been acknowledged for excellence in teaching 40 years ago. Linda Stanley ’70 Wallingford, Pa.

Saratoga’s historic architecture I was pleasantly surprised to see in the fall 2009 Scope’s “Saratoga Sidebar” a picture of a house that was our home for several years in the late 1960s and early ’70s. A classic example of the American or Craftsman bungalow, the house was pleasant to look at, interesting, and inviting. It was also a grand house to live in—spacious, efficient, easy to care for and maintain. Whenever our family gets together, conversation often turns to our memories of living in “the house” on the corner of Circular Street and York Avenue. Although our stay there was relatively short, living there was an experience of a lifetime, and provided us with a lifetime of memories. Thank you. Prof. Emeritus Douglas Huston Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

DO THE WRITE THING Scope welcomes letters to the editor. E-mail your comments to or mail to Scope, c/o Skidmore College. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.



Sharp but not narrow cope with globalization? No two problems are the same, and every single one of them has factual, legal, and/or financial constraints. Skidmore’s liberal arts education taught me how to begin when faced with such challenges. If there’s anything that connects an Igor Stravinsky to a Twyla Tharp to a Steve Jobs, it’s that they all


I am, by vocation, two things: a problem-solver and a communicator. Skidmore gave me the chance to develop these skills, and for that I’m forever grateful. I started as a Filene Music Scholar, an aspiring jazz musician, and the next short-story-writing wunderkind for The New Yorker. I still try to write tightly crafted narratives, and I still improvise on my feet



understood how to get the most out of from time to time, but my artistic expreswhatever materials they were given, using sion these days is limited to noisy Saturall of the information they had available. day-morning jam sessions with my three The secret to Stravinsky’s success wasn’t a young sons and wife (Deb Layendecker fully formed natural vision; it was instead Joyal ’97). in the choices he made when endlessly reBy the time I left Skidmore, I’d had the viewing and revising his masterpieces, chance to pursue my intellectual passions and in borrowing from other sources to as they developed (majoring in biology make something and music) and to TWICE A WEEK, WE WERE HIT new. Twyla Tharp’s meet and learn from WITH A COMPLETELY ALIEN book The Creative some wonderfully talSUBJECT AND ASKED TO Habit: Learn It and ented and creative ABSORB, ANALYZE, AND Use It for Life offers a people. Those people SYNTHESIZE IT. wonderful descripalso taught me sometion of the plain hard work that goes into thing I never majored in: how to solve the creative process. Masterpieces don’t problems. In my everyday work life as a usually arise in final form; they are the repatent attorney with Greenberg Traurig, sult of a thousand revisions and adaptaI am called on to help clients deal with tions. So it is when advising legal clients. seemingly intractable problems. How do Solving intellectual-property and business you write a patent application to describe dilemmas requires patient, thoughtful something that’s never been done before, problem-solving, creatively tailored to capturing where the technology will be in each client, type of dispute, and even 10 years? How do you respond to an ecotechnology (aerospace metallurgy in the nomic crisis that’s reshaping our profesmorning, cancer therapeutics in the aftersion? How do you help business clients

noon). It never gets easy, and it never gets old. One adage about law school is that it sharpens minds by narrowing them, but also narrows minds by sharpening them. A creative liberal arts background helps to keep the narrowing at bay. Liberal arts courses also taught me how to communicate creatively. It’s critically important to be in full command of the facts and technology of which you speak or write, whether before investors, a board of directors, or a jury. But narrative is very powerful too—being able to tell a simple, compelling story that resonates with your listener while still conveying enough detail. My law school writing professor described the process as akin to making a topographical map of Colorado look like Kansas. In other words, you’ve got to simplify a very complex terrain without losing context. Liberal Studies I was a particularly great preparation for my current job. Twice a week, we were hit with a completely alien subject and asked to absorb, analyze, and synthesize it. Writing assignments and oral presentations over four years taught us all how to discuss multiple subject areas (for me, mostly science and music), become conversant in the vernacular of each field, and find, recognize, and navigate essential connections across disciplines. I still see the value of this training every day—in learning a new technology, or in addressing audiences, from Chinese courts to investors to lay juries, that have very different communication needs. Telling a compelling story and making connections across disciplines are skills that will always be in demand. Seventeen years after dropping my creative writing major, I find my Skidmore education still helps me use those skills daily.

YOUR MESSAGE HERE Got your own story of how Creative Thought Matters? Submit your “CTMoment” to or to Scope c/o Skidmore College.





For 25 years—a quarter century—Skidobject exhibitions, the elements essential to a more’s need for a new music building Zankel Center will serve building such as this had been evident. Now the aspirations as an interdisciplinary —elements that can of our music faculty and students have campus crossroads—a wreak havoc with the been realized in the new Arthur Zankel space where issues and quality of the sound in Music Center. Having long ago outideas will be explored the other spaces. But grown the venerable Filene Music Buildfrom many points of in part because the ing, they now have the practice rooms, view, both artistic and walls and foundations S KIDMORE P RESIDENT P HILIP faculty offices, teaching facilities, and, conceptual. of these three separate A. G LOTZBACH most especially, the performance spaces Beyond geography, “blocks” are joined required to achieve their ambitions. One there is also the design of the building without fully touching, we have a wellmight think that was enough to hope itself. The Zankel Center’s exterior lines ventilated, appropriately lighted, and for, but in true Skidmore fashion, the gesture to the angularity of the Tang, fully powered facility—including, most Zankel Center has been conceived and while its most visible materials—brick, importantly, the acoustically superb created to do and be so much more. It copper, glass—embrace the architectural Ladd Concert Hall—that is free of retruly represents a major new all-College “language” of the campus as a whole. ferred vibrations and mechanical noises resource. The dazzling Helen Filene Ladd Concert that might otherwise distract audiences. The first clue to its broader mission Hall seats 600 for a musical event but, In these and many other ways, the Zanlies in the Zankel Center’s location at the with additional seating added on the kel embodies the highest level of excelcampus entrance, where it serves lence in design and construction as a gateway, welcoming visitors —reflecting the performance we THE ZANKEL EMBODIES THE HIGHEST to Skidmore. At the first concert expect of our academic programs, LEVEL OF EXCELLENCE IN DESIGN AND this past February, our students, our faculty, and our students. Yet CONSTRUCTION—REFLECTING THE faculty members, and staff were it does so in a most unassuming PERFORMANCE WE EXPECT OF joined by many people from the way. In short, the Arthur Zankel OUR ACADEMIC PROGRAMS, Saratoga community in embracMusic Center exemplifies a comOUR FACULTY, AND OUR STUDENTS. ing Zankel as their hall. It was fitmitment to quality without granting that this opening event featured the stage, will hold even more for a lecture diosity that reflects our Skidmore values. Ensemble ACJW Fellows from Carnegie or symposium. Other features of the In the following pages, you will learn Hall, the Juilliard School, and the Weill Zankel’s construction are less apparent much more about this magnificent new Music Institute, underscoring our expecto the external observer. The practice building, and I hope that before long tation that in the coming years this rooms, for example, are capacious and you will have an opportunity to see it in building will become a focal point for prevent sounds from traveling from one person, if you have not done so already. numerous collaborations with other arts to another. At the same time, they also I would be remiss, however, if I did not organizations—regional, national, and incorporate the small but wonderfully acknowledge one who will not see it, international. humanizing touch of exterior windows. but whose spirit is manifested in every Placing the center so prominently As any musician will tell you, practice panel, beam, and tile: Arthur Zankel. also reemphasizes our commitment to spaces are generally relegated to the deep Reflecting their enduring commitment the arts and our belief in the centrality dark recesses of music buildings, sacrificto Skidmore, Arthur and his family— of creativity to a Skidmore education. ing the uplifting connection to light and including our alumni Kenny ’82, Jimmy What better way to say that creative the outside world in service of acoustic ’92, Pia ’92, and Harun ’01—have prothought does truly matter? The Zankel separation. But not ours! vided a wonderful legacy, one that creates an arts cluster with the nearby Structurally, the building consists of builds proudly upon our past even as Janet Kinghorn Bernhard Theater, Saisthree contiguous but acoustically isoit points the way forward into an ever selin Art Center, and, of course, Filene. lated units: the Ladd Concert Hall, the greater future. So when you do visit, I But it also sits in juxtaposition to the educational and classroom wing (includwould ask you to remember Arthur and Dana Science Center. Just as the Frances ing the versatile Elisabeth Luce Moore reflect upon all that this building means, Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Hall for lectures and recitals), and the which is so much more than mere morGallery provides an interdisciplinary mechanical wing. The latter includes all tar and brick. space to create knowledge through of the heating, cooling, and electrical










Hundreds of alumni, parents, and friends have strengthened Skidmore’s future with creative gift planning. To learn more about the many ways you can support future generations of Skidmore students, contact the Office of Gift Planning: 518-580-5655,,

Legacy society

Honor the past. Provide for the future.

Scribe of the finely circumscribed


When Victor L. Cahn started writing characters, on the other hand, are equalhis play Fit to Kill, he already had an ly vivid but totally apart from him, and ending in mind. “So I asked myself thus “a lot of fun to create.” ‘What happened before that?’ and the Cahn writes what he calls “chamber script answered the question,” he says. plays,” technically simple pieces for a The twisty thriller about love, deception, few actors on a minimal set. His work and double-crossing was published in typically dramatizes two people trying to 2008 by Samuel French and has been negotiate their way in each other’s lives. staged in several theaters. Cahn, a SkidThe characters tend to be witty and ironmore English professor, has even played the male lead, an egotistical chess player who plans to murder his wealthy wife. “I do like to play the villain,” he notes. “One of the best compliments I ever received was from a woman who told me that one year she saw me die on stage three times, and was glad every time.” The garrulous personae Cahn adopts when acting often belie the self-described CAHN AS ACE DETECTIVE HOLMES IN A 2008 PRODUCTION OF HIS “bookish nerd” who SOLO AT NEW YORK CITY’S KIRK THEATRE lives alone and spends his time reading, writing, or playing the ic, but nonetheless struggle to connect violin. “I guess I prize solitude—except or reconnect with themselves and each when I’m in the theater or the classroom, other. As he explains, “I don’t have a or playing table tennis with my colleague panoramic vision. I just want the characSteven Millhauser.” ters to be be“WHEN I’M SERIOUSLY PRACTICING THE lievable and Cahn has writVIOLIN, I CAN’T WRITE. WHEN WRITING the plot to ten some two IS MY PRIORITY ... I CAN TINKER dozen plays, and have susWITH A MANUSCRIPT ALL DAY.” more than half pense.” have been produced, including several In a departure from his usual genre, Off-Broadway. He admits, “Every man in Cahn recently published his first novel, my plays seems to be some extension of Romantic Trapezoid. Like his plays, Romanme.” The characters range from a reclutic Trapezoid focuses on a single relationsive writer to a college professor, from a ship complete with tension, sensuality, corporate executive to Sherlock Holmes, and elation complicated by a mysterious whom Cahn portrayed in a one-man third presence. The novel, too, is driven show he wrote for himself. His female by dialogue, but also enhanced by narra-



tive that reveals the inner thoughts of the two women and one man in the story. In addition to the armful of plays and the novel, Cahn has published a memoir, Classroom Virtuoso; books about Shakespeare and modern dramatists Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter; a guide for col- lege students; and articles and reviews for magazines, newspapers, and professional journals. Yet to call Cahn “a writer” alone would be inaccurate. In fact, he talks enthusiastically about his versatile life as a performer who frequently appears on upstate New York stages as a leading actor, and who since 1982 has found a long-running role as an entertaining and enlightening professor at Skidmore. In addition, he has for many years presented SHERLOCK violin solos for concertgoers and still plays each semester for his students. “When I’m getting ready to perform, I have to practice every day,” he says. But the creative juices can’t be too diluted: “For some reason, when I’m seriously practicing the violin, I can’t write, and when writing is my priority, I don’t practice much.” He also enjoys golf, but “can’t play without guilt” when he’s supposed to be turning out pages. “I can tinker with a manuscript all day.” His current project is a play for three women that has a political theme. “I’m very lucky,” he says of his output, “to have had the opportunity to tell all my stories.” —Helen S. Edelman ’74

Analyze this...and that DomoComposition, structure, function— ozych says and how they relate—are the fundamengas chrotal issues for SAIL, the new Skidmore matograAnalytics Interdisciplinary Laboratory. phy and Established with the aid of a two-year mass specNational Science Foundation grant of trometry nearly $550,000, the lab will provide will let high-tech scientific instruments and the him index capabilities to support research from arthe various chaeology to zoology. sugars passThe faculty members behind the iniing through tiative are Cathy Gibson (principal inand stored in the vestigator for the NSF grant) in environcell walls of algae mental studies, David Domozych and and plants; a new inJosh Ness in biology, Kim Frederick in frared microscope will allow chemistry, and Heather Hurst ’97 in an“fast and accurate biochemical fingerthropology. Gibson says all of them are printing” of those cell structures. He interested in “figuring out the building notes, “Previblocks” that com“WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT TRAINING ously we’ve had pose the strucOUR STUDENTS ON THE LATEST to wait to receive tures and systems INSTRUMENTATION. WE CAN USE such analyses they study, from THIS EQUIPMENT TO ASK CUTTINGfrom other labs.” her own stream EDGE QUESTIONS, AND TO GET For Ness, “Reecosystem chemTHE ANSWERS.” cording the disistry to Hurst’s tribution of organisms doesn’t fully ancient Maya paintings. The grant will capture how a forest ‘works.’” But SAIL’s help purchase sophisticated new specportable gas-exchange meter can comtrometers, chromatographs, and other plement his North Woods census data gear, enabling them to identify, measure, with more metabolic measures—of “the and track chemicals from ions to metaCO2 being taken up by individual leaves, bolic gases and more.

or how the soil (‘dirt,’ roots, decomposing leaves, microbes, etc.) breathes— which can help us quantify a forest’s potential for carbon sequestration.” He’s eager to get his hands on other new gear, too, for such studies as nutrient compositions that can elucidate a leaf’s capacity for photosynthesis. Gibson says, “We're excited about training our students on the latest instrumentation. We can use this equipment to ask cutting-edge questions, and to get the answers.” Some 400 students a year are expected to work with the new gear as part of collaborative research, thesis projects, or coursework. One more highlight of the project Gibson is pleased to point out: “It involves a mix of faculty at different career levels, which shows how strong and active the research sciences are at Skidmore.” —AW, SR

Idea interchange If a college is a marketplace of ideas, Skidmore has been a bustling bazaar, with guest lectures such as: • “Envisioning the Other: Does the Bible Promote Intolerance?” by Joel Kaminsky, Smith College • “The Obama Effect and the Diversity Experience in ‘Post-Racial’ America” (Zankel Professorship Forum), by Karen Ashcraft, University of Colorado • “Googling, the Instrumented Web, Privacy, and You,” by Greg Conti, US Military Academy • “Race in Cuba: Afro-Cubans, African Ameri-

cans, and the Politics of Revolution, 1959–61,” by Devyn Spence Benson, Williams College • “Triggering Change: Hip Hop, Media Justice, and Social Responsibility,” by Carlos McBride, University of Massachusetts at Amherst • “The Making of the Internal Enemy,” by Joaquín Chávez, UWW ’03, United Nations Development Program in El Salvador • “We are All Terrorists: From the Tarnac 9 to the SHAC 7,

Counterterrorist Policies in France and the USA,” by Steve Best, University of Texas at El Paso, and Bill Brown, Not Bored e-zine • “Vagabond Expressions: Explorations in Gender, Acting, and Activism” (Skidmore Pride Alliance keynoter), by Daniela Sea, artist, actor, musician • “Rotating Galaxies and Dark Matter,” by Vera Rubin, Carnegie Institution • “Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet” (Strock Lecture), by Steve Squyres, Cornell University • “The Designer as Author” (Malloy Lecture), by Ellen Lupton, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum



The Grammy-winning Ying Quartet headlined this year’s string festival on campus. In residence as Skidmore’s Sterne Virtuoso Artists, the foursome offered coaching sessions and a master class for student musicians, both from Skidmore and from area high schools, and gave a class in rehearsal techniques. A public performance in the new Zankel Center featured works by Haydn, Janáček, and Mendelssohn. Now in its second decade, the group still includes three of the original four Ying siblings. In addition to giving conventional concerts, they are known for some unusual projects, including a series called “No Boundaries” at New York City’s Symphony Space that entailed collaborations with actors, dancers, a magician, and even a Chinese noodle chef.


Yings and strings

Their belief that concert music can be a meaningful part of everyday life has inspired performances in churches, banks, schools, and prisons, as well as the White

House. Currently the Ying is quartet-inresidence at the Eastman School of Music, teaching in its rigorous chamber-music program. —SR

Worth the trip from anywhere!




Join us in Saratoga Springs for our fourth annual citywide celebration of the arts—music, dance, visual art, film, theatre, and literary art.

USHJA HIGH PERFORMANCE INTERNATIONAL HUNTER DERBY: JUNE 19 ALUMNI DIVISION: JUNE 26 Be part of a historic tradition featuring many of the country’s best horses and riders. Come watch, or ride in our alumni division. We’ll even provide a horse if you need one!

June 10-13, 2010 8 SCOPE


For a prize list and information, contact Adele Einhorn ’80 at or 518-580-5632

EXPERT OPINION : Diana Barnes, on border issues

Immigration policy is not my academic specialty, but recently I’ve been interviewing people on both sides of the border, seeing things I never saw as a kid when my family would cross into Mexico to visit my grandfather. Today I notice little wooden crosses by the fence, for people who died trying to sneak across the desert into the US. I notice the sharp difference in the standard of living on the two sides of the fence. And I notice the fence: in places it’s steel and concrete, then it becomes mesh, and elsewhere it’s just painted boulders you can step across.

Describe the border areas you’ve seen. Across from Anapra, Mexico, it’s open desert with a roadway heavily used by the US border patrol. Through the steel mesh you can see huge numbers of shacks, some made of packing crates— no electricity, no water, just endless sprawl. Most of the residents came to work in the maquiladoras, assembly factories that often don't pay a living wage, although it may be a legal wage. Children run up and down the fence, looking for the border

officers they know, who pass candy to them through the mesh. Elsewhere, near a break in the fence, there’s a Mexican town with no hospital. Pregnant women come to the border and call an ambu lance, are taken to a US hospital, and have a child born on US soil who is thus a US citizen. These chil dren grow up in Mexico but go to a US school—a school bus picks them up every morning at the hole in the fence. There are so many holes and contradic tions and inconsistencies—the fence itself reflects Americans’ confusion about the border and immigration.

What about Saratoga’s own immigrant workers? Every May through October, some 1,200 employees, many of them Hispanic, work in the backstretch area of Saratoga’s racetrack, as grooms, horse walkers, barn cleaners... I volunteer with them, translating for those who need medical care. Some people call them “Traxicans,” but they come from Paraguay, Chile, and other countries too. Most are earning money to send or take home, with no intention of staying permanently. Each year workers like them send some $20 billion back to Mexico, after paying US income taxes from which they will never get benefits.

What has struck you most from your border visits? I met Javier Perez, who works at an El Paso shelter for migrant workers—almost all have legal documentation, but they don't earn enough money for food, shelter, or health care. And there is Reubén García, whose shelters for people who have crossed the desert into the US illegally give them a chance to regain their health and contact their families. (The border patrol knows that people stay in those houses every night, but it does nothing, because the US needs and wants these workers.) I’ve met many passionate and courageous people, whose mantra is “We only want a life with dignity.” We need to sift through the misinformation we get in the US, such as that Hispanics here don't want to learn English or are prone to criminal behavior. We need to try to understand what frightens our country so much about these immigrant workers. As a spray-painted message at the border said, “There is no such thing as an illegal human being.” Prof. Diana Barnes teaches Spanish language and literature at Skidmore. She was planning another visit to Mexico this spring, to speak with a human-rights attorney in Chihuahua.




What’s your experience of the US-Mexico border?

Q&A: pre-med club makes healthy start Even as a freshman, Joshua Stone ’10 had thoughts of starting a pre-med club. Now in its first full year, the club boasts more than 80 members, a busy schedule, and a productive relationship with Saratoga Hospital.


One of our most successful events was How is the club different from the Health professions Advisory a panel discussion about medical school committee? interviews. To form the panel, Dr. PeaHPAC’s chair, Prof. Bernard Possidente, is body contacted local doctors just out of also the advisor to our club. But HPAC is their residencies. Now, thanks to their composed of faculty who advise appligoodwill, Skidmore students applying to cants to medical, dental, and veterinary health professional schools can request school. We offer mock interviews Did you always want to be a doctor? “WE OFFER THE STUDENT the student perwith each of And to start a pre-med club? PERSPECTIVE—WE LEARN FROM spective—we learn them. Dr. Peabody Science has long fascinated me, and my OTHERS WHO ARE GOING THROUGH also donated from others who experience tutoring a student with AsTHE SAME PROCESS. ” are going through books on the subperger’s Syndrome for seven years steered the same process. Also we’re not reject; we added them to the pre-med colme toward medicine. Though my acastricted to pre-med, pre-dental, or pre-vet lection we started in Skidmore’s library, demic interests didn’t extend very far students; we hold many meetings and which also includes guides to medical beyond the natural sciences, I knew I events that appeal to anyone interested schools, test prep books, and memoirs wanted a well-rounded and personalized in health issues. about being a doctor. education. The Pre-med Club can help with I got the idea for the pre-med club What’s been your experience so far hands-on experience too. I began volunafter attending Skidmore’s Leadership with the club? teering in Saratoga Hospital’s Emergency Institute during my freshman year. InterOur meetings have included Skidmore’s Department two summers ago, and we’ve acting with peers who had leadership exnutritionist talking about healthy choices set up other students to volunteer there. perience made me wonder what position in the dining hall; David Egilman disOther opportunities include hospice I could hold one day. Sophomore year, work, shadowing doctors, and volunteercussing his nonprofit organization, Global I teamed up with Amanda Wachtel ’10, ing as an EMT or with a veterinarian. Health through Education, Training and who was also planning to apply to med Service; a family physician and US Army schools. At first our proposal to start the What are your hopes for the club major providing insights into working for club was rejected. We sought advice from after you graduate? the military; and admissions representafaculty and students and revised our apI’d like to see a collaborative, interdiscitives from several medical schools. We’re proach, and we were approved for a trial plinary effort to assess the health-care also planning a visit to Albany Medical period. Our first meeting featured a presneeds of the uninsured in the Saratoga College (the first time I stepped onto a entation by Dr. Joyce Peabody, Saratoga area. I’d also like the club to get involved med school campus was for my first interHospital’s chief medical officer. Later, with annual trips to medically underview, and I thought it would be better for with unanimous approval by the student served areas in the US or abroad, to supstudents to experience that beforehand). senate, the Pre-med Club was formed. port public health initiatives. Hopefully, ER VOLUNTEER JOSH STONE ’10 AT SARATOGA HOSPITAL the next club leaders will consider these ideas. How do you see your future? I’ll be starting med school in the fall. I’m thinking about primary care, because I enjoy direct patient interaction and because a shortage of primary-care physicians is projected in the near future. During med school, I want to take part in global health initiatives. I didn’t get to study abroad, but the pulmonologist I shadow at home travels to Kenya and Guatemala to help in rural clinics. This has inspired me to do something similar. —PM

preserving earth and water grant and with help from the local Brookside Nursery and Saratoga County’s storm-water management coordinator Blue Neils. ES faculty member Cathy Gibson says that, even in 2009’s unusually wet summer, the planting “effectively infiltrated the vast majority of runoff from the Tang’s roof, and water never stood in the garden for more than 24 hours.” She and Neils agree that it’s a successful prototype for a new way to PAUL BUCKOWSKI

“Creative Gardens Matter,” a project by three environmental-studies majors, has lived up to its name. The rain garden planned and installed by the trio near Skidmore’s Tang Museum has slowed and filtered storm-water runoff on its way into Haupt Pond. An alternative to pipes that divert water off site (at Skidmore, usually into a campus collection pond; in Saratoga Springs, into a stream that flows into Lake Lonely), rain gardens near buildings or parking lots handle storm-water runoff close to its source. The soil and plants in each garden are enough to filter pollution from its local source, whereas typical systems collect unfiltered runoff from large areas and discharge it in one place. The Skidmore rain garden was scientifically planned and aesthetically planted by Caitlin Frame ’10, Dani Reuter ’09, and Allison Ruschp ’09, with a Skidmore



handle runoff in Saratoga. Neils was delighted with the town-gown collaboration, and Gibson reports that two other ES students have built further on the project for their senior-capstone work this spring. —SR

Writers Institute


The New York State Summer Writers Institute returns to Skidmore June 28–July 9 and July 12–July 23. Skidmore alumni, who have always taken part in this intensive and convivial experience, are warmly invited again this year.

• Workshops in Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction • Intensive Tutorials


avana-based Los Carpinteros (the carpenters) are two master craftsmen who create surrealist-inspired sculptures, installations, and drawings that often fuse domestic commodities with violent or incongruous elements—like this untitled pile of houses, or a jewelry case in the shape of a hand grenade, or a couch with an inlaid stove. The duo, Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodríguez, presents structurally beautiful and frequently humorous works that question the production and meaning of modern furnishings. An exhibition of their works is on view at Skidmore’s Tang Museum through August 7. For the full Tang schedule, visit or call 518-580-8080.

The eminent writers teaching and visiting this summer include Amy Hempel, Rick Moody, Carolyn Forché, Frank Bidart, Phillip Lopate, Russell Banks, Joyce Carol Oates, William Kennedy, Robert Pinsky, Mary Gaitskill, Charles Simic, Ann Beattie, Allan Gurganus, and more. New to the program this year: Joseph O’Neill (Netherland), Mark Strand (former US Poet-Laureate), Claire Messud (The Emperor’s Children). For more information, please visit or contact Bob Boyers at








Leading the Knicks. Mike Heyward ’11 was Coach of the Year for the Knicks—the Wilton, N.Y., Knicks, that is. He coached the sixth- and seventh-grade team for his service-learning requirement in a Skidmore social work course. A high-school hoops star who quit with an injury, Heyward says he loved “the kids. The look in their eyes when they got the taste of victory was priceless.” His aim: inspiring them “to be the best they can be in all their endeavors.” Basketball. At 21-5 overall, the women tied a Skidmore record for wins. Their 12-2 conference mark earned the Liberty League title and the #1 seed in the league tournament. Their season ended when they lost, 70–67, to RPI in the tournament championship. Sharlyn Harper ’10 was a unanimous first-team All-Liberty selection after leading the T’breds in scoring, assists, and three-pointers. The men, 16-9 overall, also tied a record for wins. Their 9-5 league mark clinched the #2 seed in the tournament, where they fell to Hobart, 83–76. Jeff Altimar ’11 led Skidmore in scoring and won first-team all-league honors. Ice hockey. The team went 9-162 and made it to the ECAC East semifinals for a second time. Skidmore bested Southern Maine but then lost to Babson in the semis. Alex Mykolenko ’11 (left) earned league honors, scoring 23 points in 26 games. Swimming and diving. The men set 17 records this season. Diver Doug Pilawa ’12 broke his own records off the 1- and 3-meter boards and finished second in both events at the UNYSCA championships. Swimmer John Tyler Norton ’10 tallied five solo and five relay records. The women set six new program records, including five by Sonia Segal-Smith ’10. T’BRED HOTLINE. For full results and schedules, call 518-580-5393 anytime or go to and click “athletics.”


It’s not too late (but the clock is ticking) You can still register to attend Reunion 2010

June 3–6 Visit or call 800-584-0115 (We’ll even take walk-ins. So don’t miss out!)

Z A N K E L N O TAT I O N S For Tom Denny, music department chair, it’s also “a gateway not just to the campus but to a new era in Skidmore’s already rich musical tradition.” Here’s the basic score they’re reading from, including key signature themes and high notes:

“A CROSSROADS where performers and speakers from a wide spectrum of disciplines will come to entertain, challenge, and inspire the community” is how Skidmore President Philip Glotzbach describes the new Arthur Zankel Music Center.

adjustable-depth orchestra pit can rise to extend stage floor or audience seating

groundbreaking May 2007 girder ceremony May 2008 opening January 2010 dedication October 2010

keyboard repair shop

percussion instruction and practice rooms


recording studio

large ensemble rehearsal room small jazz ensemble rehearsal room

green room, dressing room 3 separate foundations, and slightly spaced wall joints, reduce transfer of vibration and noise across wings

48-by-40-foot oak stage, with sprung flooring for dance

mechanical rooms handle HVAC and maintain 40% humidity—for healthy pianos, drums, etc.

AV control booth and soundboard


Thomas Amphitheater (named for former board chair Sue Corbet Thomas ‘62 and husband Charlie) has stone and grass seating for 160-plus

faculty office/studios

box office

chamber ensemble rehearsal room


OPEN BELO TO W 600-seat Helen Filene Ladd concert hall faculty office/studios mechanical room

35 geothermal bores provide partially off-thegrid heating and cooling

conference/ seminar room

grand-piano elevator (and handicapped access)

75-seat Elisabeth Luce Moore Hall for recitals, lectures, master classes

E A S T E L E VAT I O N Ladd Concert Hall balcony

2003 design award—honorable mention, in “unbuilt work”—from American Institute of Architects

15-workstation computer and media lab, with musicediting, composition, and other software


faculty offices/studios



“green” architectural features include bamboo paneling, recycled copper cladding, and other renewable and/or local materials

classrooms harpsichord and fortepiano room

3-story-high window backs Ladd Concert Hall stage

total square footage: 54,000

keyboard lab and classroom


14 individual practice rooms



student lounge

high-efficiency windows admit natural light into virtually every room

mechanical room

faculty office/studios

total architectural, construction, and equipment costs: $32.5 million

instrument lockers: 220 throughout building, from piccolo- to doublebass-size



Hallelujah chorus for the academic assets of the new music center BY BARBARA MELVILLE RIGHT FROM DAY ONE in the Arthur Zankel Music Center, Skidmore faculty and student musicians have found plenty to love about the new building. Tops on their list is its whopping 54,000 square feet, including much-needed classrooms, offices, and big chunks of rehearsal and practice space, from which “we get a huge pedagogical bump,” as music department chair Tom Denny exults. Besides all that glorious elbow room, Skidmore musicians also fell hard for the 600-seat

Well-equIPPed classrooms Skidmore’s Stravinsky expert Chuck Joseph is the first to welcome a class into the new building, when his musictheory students meet in January. The sparkling whitewalled classroom is handsomely equipped with a grand piano, a towering computer rack and large flat-screen monitor, and a whiteboard crisply imprinted with music-notation staves. First Joseph hums a few bars of an unfamiliar melody and challenges his students—singers, composers, instrumentalists —to hum and then name the notes. They do, as one student scrawls the first notes on the gleaming whiteboard. When a piano down the hall bursts noisily into play, a student simply closes the classroom door, and … silence. “Isn’t this new classroom wonderful?” sighs Josephs happily. “A ‘clean’ environment is a must for learning about an art that is based upon sound and silence,” Joseph explains later. A former department chair who worked with his colleagues for the past 25 years to help shape the new music center, he finds



Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall, the solid soundproofing built into the building’s bones, and its well-wired, state-of-the art technology. Practically every perk sweetens or deepens music education at Skidmore. What do Skidmore musicians not love about the new center? Nothing. A headline in the February 26 Skidmore News said it all: “Zankel—A Love Story.” Here are eight things that especially delight both teachers and learners.

the new classrooms “a real haven for instruction” in music theory, composition, music history, and ethnomusicology. “Our students can concentrate more. I've noted a big change in their ability to concentrate on fairly sophisticated differences in one measure or another of a score.” “The facilities have already changed how students are able to interact and learn in the classroom,” Gordon Thompson told the Skidmore News. Enrollment in his popular “British Rock and Popular Music in the 1960s” grew with its large new classroom, the two-story Elisabeth Luce Moore Hall. “When you’ve got a room designed for teaching music, suddenly things go smoothly,” says Thompson. “You go in and concentrate on the material.”

souNdProoFINg Want to see silencing capabilities tested to the max? Visit the basement percussion studio where Richard Bastuck ’13 is taking a drum lesson from Mark Foster,

whose performance and recording credits range from the Albany Symphony and the Newport Jazz Festival to 1960s popsters Jay and the Americans. The midday session is one of many individual lessons offered each year in instruments ranging from banjo to violin, saxophone to sitar, woodwinds to West African drums. The studio is bright and spacious, holding a drum kit, two pianos, two marimbas, a desk, and computer equipment. A wall poster illustrates snare-drum rudiments like the “single stroke roll” and the “triple paradiddle.” Bastuck starts off practicing drumming patterns—“the basic ‘words’ of drumming,” Foster explains. “Play each one of these measures four times,” he tells Bastuck. It’s loud. “Now get the bass drum going on every quarter note.” It’s louder still. But Bastuck’s notes sound good in the room, clear and sharp. The new studio is a high point in the long and peripatetic history of percussion at Skidmore. Ever vulnerable to NIMBY complaints, percussionists spent years practicing in exile, including a trailer behind Dana Science Center and a padded racquetball court in the Sports and Recreation Center. In Zankel, what Foster calls “acoustical isolation” is ensured by thickly soundproofed walls and clinched by two layers of doors: Extra thick and unusually wide (to accommodate marimbas and giant tympani), they’re mounted six inches apart to create a sound seal. Stand outside those doors, and all you hear of Bastuck’s energetic efforts is a faint, faraway tapping.

dedIcaTed rehearsal rooms

the literature.” When the students mess up a tricky passage, Vinci steps in to clarify the rhythm: “Ba-dum, ba-dum,” she sings emphatically, swinging her arm up and down. “Yumpybee-dum, yumpy-bee-dum.” The piece ends suddenly as Rebecca Rawling ’10, obeying Higdon’s notation, hisses a weird little “phttt!” into her flute. “That’s right,” says Vinci, pleased. Listening to music in the ensemble coaching room feels like being inside the instrument. Does hearing the sound so clearly help students play better? “Absolutely,” says department chair Denny. “The better the sound comes back to you, the better you learn. Musicians feed on sound: the sound blooms and feeds back to them. That’s true in a practice room, a rehearsal space, or a concert hall.” As Vinci explains, “My old studio was so ‘dead,’ it made it hard for students. There was no ‘surround-sound’—the sound stopped right in front of you. The rooms here are more live. My students can pick up on the acoustical qualities and ambience of the room, and they can hear what you point out to them much better.”

TechNology aT a Touch On Monday afternoons, John Nazarenko, UWW ’84, meets one of the three combos he’s directing this semester for MP276, a one-credit course that’s part instruction, part jam session. They meet in the music center’s small jazz ensemble rehearsal room. It’s a secure space, accessible like most in Zankel by swiping an ID card through the programmable door lock, so it’s permanently set up with piano,


Besides mastering their own instruments, musicians must learn to play well with others. “When you play in an ensemble with even just one other person,” explains faculty member Jan Vinci, the founding director of Skidmore’s Summer Flute Institute, “your awareness is heightened exponentially. You’re more keenly attuned—and that’s where the magic happens.” With nearly a dozen music department ensembles large and small (plus student-run groups) vying for practice time, the old music facility was bursting its seams. Built in 1967 to accommodate five music faculty members and a student body of 1,000, Filene Music Building instead accommodated a four-decade explosion in campus musicmaking. By 2009 the music faculty numbered more than 30, and fully half of today’s 2,400 students sign up for ensembles, lessons, or classroom courses—placing huge demands on rehearsal MARK FOSTER TEACHES NORA SEYMOUR ’13 AND PRINCE MOSES ’13 IN THE rooms. NEW PERCUSSION STUDIO. Zankel fills the bill with specialized spaces like the ensemble coaching room where, early in the semester, Vinci amps, drums, and mikes. (When Filene Recital Hall was the sets four top-notch flute students to work. They fluently sightonly large rehearsal space, each group had to set up and break read their way through a little Mozart, some Debussy, and a down its equipment for every rehearsal.) fast, difficult piece by contemporary composer Jennifer Higdon. Cooper Boniece ’11 noodles on the piano as guitarist Dave Vinci directs, tweaking the rhythm and guiding her soloists Susman ’10 arrives. Drummer Thomas Best ’12 goes to the comthrough a piece she calls “one of the most difficult quartets in puter and fires up YouTube, searching for videos of the jazz g



standard “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” then scrolls through Woody Herman, Archie Shepp, and Duke Ellington versions as bassist Carlo D’Angelis ’12 tries out chords with Best playing lightly along. “OK, everybody got it?” asks Nazarenko. “You want to try it? One, two, three”—and off they go, playing by ear and learning by heart from their own quick grasp of the YouTube videos. It’s technology that lets youngsters sit, figuratively, at the feet of legendary music makers, studying technique and working out how the masters handled a blues line here, why they chose a D-flat diminished chord there. “This is transforming my teaching,” says Nazarenko, a jazz pianist with years of instruction, performance, and recording to his credit. His old studio was “a closet opposite the recital hall’s green room—no windows, no ventilation, no audiovisual. You had to bring in your own tape or CD and a boombox.” Now, “Say Thelonius Monk comes up in class discussion. I can push ‘on,’ a screen comes down, and in 30 seconds I’m playing a Monk tape. I’m pinching myself—this is reinvigorating the way I work.”

PracTIce made PerFecT To get in their requisite hours of solo practice, students flock to more than a dozen third-floor practice rooms. Small and elegant, each has a tall window looking out on a balcony. “In Filene, you’d hear noise spilling out from all the other rooms and you’d get distracted. Here, you can’t hear anyone else,” says jazz pianist Boniece. “The sound is so clean I can’t hear anything except the music I’m creating,” agrees Chris Carillo ’13, who sings with the Skidmore Chorus, Vocal Chamber Ensemble, and Bandersnatchers. And Ashley Storrow ’11, a Sonneteer turned jazz singer, reports that Skidmore’s numerous student a cappella groups, long scrambling for practice space, finally have room enough to rehearse. In a nostalgic nod to Filene’s often-charming acoustical overflow, the music faculty and the architects, Ewing Cole and Belson Design Architects, made sure that the sounds of music still drift out from the practice rooms through their less heavily proofed doors. To walk Zankel’s third-floor hall at peak practice times is to sample one musical treat after another.

musIc IN The lIberal arTs On a grand scale, Zankel Music Center brilliantly reaffirms “the arts as an integral dimension of a Skidmore education,” as President Philip Glotzbach has said. It’s home to the music department, but it’s also a dramatic stage for Skidmore’s mission to spark bold new cross-disciplinary connections. For instance, when the Skidmore Orchestra’s concert in March featured Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, the performance also provided a dazzling finale to the Class of 2013’s first-year experience, whose theme was Lincoln and the American presidency. Big enough to seat an entire Skidmore class, Ladd Concert Hall can host major events presented by the special programs, first-year experience, and other offices— and without as much reliance on simulcasting into overflow auditoriums.



All things considered, the new building synergizes a rare blend of “conservatory-level private music instruction for academically bright students who don’t want to be limited to a conservatory curriculum,” says Anne Turner, who teaches voice. “Skidmore is one of very few to offer this.”

coNcerT sTage as classroom For students pursuing music performance, all of the Zankel’s finest qualities come together in its concert hall. There, on the intimate scale of the student recital, pedagogy culminates in public performance, which flutist Vinci defines as “a significant part of both solo and ensemble music.” Great things can happen in rehearsal, she says, but “there are things you learn only in performance.” On a Saturday night in February, her student Rebecca Rawling ‘10 steps out on the large, shining stage to begin her senior flute recital—the first in the new hall. Regal in a long white gown, Rawling gravely regards her silver flute for a moment and nods to her Skidmore staff accompanist Patricia Hadfield. Then she launches into Bach’s Sonata in E Minor, followed by a Mozart concerto, a Prokofiev sonata for flute and piano, and Higdon’s challenging contemporary piece, called Rapid Fire. Ladd Concert Hall, which sounds so lush for large ensembles and full audiences, sounds equally warm and rich for Rawling’s flute and a receptive group of family, friends, and faculty. “The sound just wrapped all around you, no matter where you sat,” marvels Nazarenko. Dramatic stage lighting stepped the presentation up yet another notch. (FYI, the recital was framed with movable acoustic panels, staged, lighted, and recorded by a student crew supervised by jazz ensemble member Boniece; all were trained by the Zankel’s new technical director, Shawn DuBois, in a work-study program of music-production management. But that’s another story.) Vinci’s verdict: “Rebecca’s recital was very, very good, and I think the hall helped. She was playing the best I’ve heard from her.” “I really liked playing in the new hall,” says Rawling, a Filene Music Scholar and English major. “The acoustics made me sound good and definitely enhanced my performance.” And, she adds, “it was nice to be onstage.”

uNdeFINable grace NoTes As the music department settles deeper into its new digs, “I notice more of a ‘bounce’ in my students,” says Chuck Joseph. Chalk some of that up to “the brightness of the classroom,” but Joseph thinks that the brightness also “translates to our discussions. Students seem more alert to me, more eager to participate in whatever the dialogue evolves.” Turner too detects “a psychological lift—we’re happier. The students are happier, and that leads to more motivation.” Kudos aside, perhaps all that the new building can actually do for Skidmore musicians is give them the finest, best-tuned bricks-and-mortar “instrument” that lets them play their best —and what’s not to love about that?

good vibrations concert hall opens doors to new audiences BY KATHRYN GALLIEN


“IT HAS A BLOOM TO IT, without being muddy,” said Tom Denny, professor and chair of music, in January. He had just heard some of the first notes played in the Zankel’s new Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall. “The sound blossoms into the space rather than stopping at the end of the instrument,” he continued—“and this is all without the acoustical tuning.” g

Indeed the ability to “tune” the hall is crucial to its exceptional acoustics and flexibility. Acoustical reflectors in the ceiling can be raised and lowered, draperies along the sides extended and retracted, a movable acoustical shell deployed— all to tailor the strength and reverberation for everything from lectures and small recitals to musical theater or full orchestra and chorus. Just weeks before the Zankel’s inaugural concert, music faculty took center stage to help the acoustics team make its final assessment. Pianist Pola Baytelman The acousTIcIaNs carefully selected pieces with varied sonorities—a staccato Scarlatti sonata, NoTes. a soft and fast piece by American composer Amy Beach, a movement from Schumann’s powerfully Romantic Humoreske. The acousticians listened and made notes. When Baytelman was finished playing, she was plainly thrilled. “It is a marvelous hall; I loved the way the sound carried through it,” she said, adding that Skidmore’s musicians felt fortunate indeed to have this new space.



f course they were also fond of their former space next door, the Filene Music Building, made possible in 1967 by Helen Filene Ladd ’22. So when they moved into the Zankel Center, they brought their beloved benefactor’s name with them to christen its new concert hall. The visually stunning facility manages to feel both spacious and intimate at once. With seating for 600—and the option to add about 100 chairs on the large stage apron—it nearly triples the capacity of Filene’s recital hall. But 150 seats are in a balcony that can be closed off during smaller events. Ewing Cole and Belson Design Architects designed the Arthur Zankel Music Center to maximize daylight and minimize distracting noises. Skidmore Vice President Mike West can’t stop smiling as he describes the building he has come to know intimately as he oversaw its two-year construction. He cites the “separate mechanical wing isolated from the performance hall so that the whining of motors or air-handling noise isn’t transferred.” Larger ductwork for the geothermal heating and cooling system means quieter air movement, and acoustically designed entry doors with sound-lock areas give the concert hall a pin-drop silence. Other fea-



tures include bamboo veneer on the walls and natural lighting from the dramatic and well-insulated window that makes up the rear wall of the stage. Dear to West’s heart is the orchestra pit he lobbied to keep in the project. It’s an unusual feature for a hall this size, says Tom Denny, and one that along with the dancer-friendly sprung stage floor gives the hall a distinctive niche in the Saratoga region. Decades of hoping and planning and years of design and construction culminated in the opening concert on February 5. West admits he was nervous: How lIsTeNed aNd made would music sound with a full audience in the house? Afterward, West reports, acoustician Jerry Marshall and architects PlaINly ThrIlled. Charlie Belsen and Ryan McNutt were thrilled. “What’s more important,” says West, “is that it sounded great to the musicians and to the audience.”


etter than great. Ensemble ACJW gave a “Carnegie Hall Premieres” performance of chamber works by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and contemporary composer David Bruce. From the start, violinist Owen Dalby says, the group was not only honored to open the new facility but blown away by the Ladd’s acoustics: “‘Scary-good hall,’ we muttered to each other at intermission.” Just two weeks later, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet was working with students in advance of its concert—and the hall’s first professional recording session. A student-organized “Harmony for Haiti” benefit concert filled the Ladd and overflowed into Elisabeth Luce Moore Hall, the Zankel’s recital space. The wildly popular Klezmatics drew a capacity crowd, and the Filene Concert Series performance by jazz greats Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau in April was expected to do likewise. Meanwhile, Skidmore ensembles took their turns on the big stage. Guest director Charles Schneider led the Skidmore Orchestra in Copland’s Lincoln Portrait (a tie-in with this year’s all-freshman readings on Abraham Lincoln), and Janet McGhee readied her Skidmore College Community Chorus, Vocal Chamber Ensemble, and the local Battenkill Chorale for a performance of Carl Orff’s monumental Carmina Burana. Flute student Rebecca Rawling ’10 nabbed the first senior recital in the hall, an honor that came with a little extra tinkering at her

dress rehearsal, as instructor Jan Vinci, accompanist Patricia Hadfield, and recording technician Cooper Boniece ’11 experimented with acoustical panels and lighting configurations. In the end, says Rawling, “I think everything sounded excellent— and I had a lot of fun.” Next up is the busy summer-programs season. Ladd Concert Hall should be thoroughly broken in by the time of its official grand-opening concert on October 16 as part of the Arthur Zankel Music Center’s formal dedication.


organizations may make appearances in the hall.” Segrave is equally enthusiastic about “bringing in as many members of the local and the national community as possible,” adding, “we do need to EDITOR’S NOTE move slowly; we don’t For the Zankel’s full calendar, want to overtax the space go to and while we’re still growing click the “events” link. into it.” Demand for rentals could be high. One was already lined up back in February: Caffè Lena’s 50th-anniversary concert on May 22, with a tantalizing list of possible headliners.

ith the large new concert hall comes a strengthened collaboration between the music department and the special programs office, as they coordinate performance schedules for the academic year and the summer and explore new possibilities both within the College and in partnership with arts organizations in the region. “The Zankel Music Center reinforces our commitment and our reputation as one of the leading liberal rthur Zankel’s transformational bequest has brought Skidarts colleges in the performing arts,” says Jeff Segrave, dean of more as a performance venue into the big leagues and opened special programs. “The fact that the building can accommodate up a new spectrum of opportunities for collaborations among dance, music, theater, and more gives a message that we’re seekthe arts and across the curriculum, both within the College and ing a more integrated, coordinated conception of the performwith performers from far and wide. ing and visual arts.” At February’s debut concert, President Philip Glotzbach A rich year-round concert schedule is already in place with thanked the “village”-full of people it took to nurture such the Filene Concert and Sterne Virtuoso Series, the McCormack beautiful music—from the Ladd and Zankel families to the arartist-scholar and Carnegie Hall Premieres residencies, the sumchitects and contractors, from the businesses and individuals mer jazz and flute institutes, the Skidmore orchestra and chomaking gifts to name seats in the concert hall to the music facrus, student a cappella nights, and faculty and student recitals. ulty who have waited so long for the new facility. But the Ladd can accommodate new kinds of performances as Denny acknowledges, “It’s been a long process,” starting well—opera, ballet, full orchestra and chorus—and is likely to some 25 years ago with dreams for an expanded Filene Music attract new guest artists as the buzz of Building. In the 1990s that dream bereINForces came an architect’s drawing for a possiits successful debut reverberates through the music world. our commITmeNT aNd our rePuTaTIoN ble new building. With Arthur Zankel’s With this comes a more complex bequest, the possible became the real. operation, including a newly hired “The music department has been very IN The PerFormINg arTs.” concert and events manager, Amanda patient,” says VP Mike West, emphasizBoehmer; a technical operations director, Shawn DuBois; a 50ing that the project’s success is a tribute to the work of many inch plasma screen in the lobby promoting upcoming concerts; hands—efforts and expertise that “had to come together as a a student-staffed box office; and online ticket purchasing at symphony.” Seeing it all come to fruition, Denny says, “is awe Prices—$12 general admission, some. It feels good to fulfill a very long-held dream.” $10 for faculty/staff and senior citizens, and $3 for students— Addressing the packed hall on opening night, Denny deare still a bargain, but now even the free concerts require tickets scribed what the moment meant to the music department and to manage the seating. the College: “There is something about music that we all know Ladd is also perfectly sized for convocations, admissions is very powerful, and spiritual, and cuts to the heart of one’s programs, and guest speakers. And as the schedule permits, the being. It’s also true that a space as capacious and as beautiful as hall will be available for rental by outside music and commuthis has some of those same powers. And when we think about nity groups. Indeed, the new operation is being hailed as a it being used for the sounds and silence of the wonderful art of boon for Saratoga Springs at large—a new jewel in a crown almusic; when we think of the way in which it’s bringing comready sparkling with Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Lake munity together in such a palpable and wonderful way; when George Opera of Saratoga, Caffè Lena, Universal Preservation we think of the way in which light will be penetrating through Hall, and SaratogaArtsFest. “The Zankel will further develop the south window; and when we think about the ways in which Saratoga Springs as a year-round destination for cultural toursound, in just a few moments, will be coming off the stage, ists,” says Caffè Lena director Sarah Craig, and “that’s good for being launched into this space and vibrating between person the whole town.” and person—I really don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that Music chair Tom Denny says, “We’re very excited about the this is truly a magical moment.” g possibility that regional professional and community-based





“The gods of resonance” smiles and applause. SO GREAT WAS THE EXCITEMENT over the inaugural performance Opening Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67, cellist in Skidmore’s new Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall that hundreds of Nicholas Canellakis’s harmonics shimmered plaintively through the music fans poured into the Zankel Center well before the preconcert hall, setting a haunting tone. The third movement’s passacaglia was panel discussion, to be sure of getting a seat. They were eager to bear appropriately funereal—the composer was grievwitness as the Ensemble ACJW, in the words of Skid“AS GOOD AS IT ing the loss of his best friend and the revelations more music chair Tom Denny, “offered up their sounds WAS IN REHEARSAL, of recently liberated Nazi death camps—leading to to the gods of resonance.” IT WAS EVEN BETTER a final demonic dance. The work held great meanFrom the first crisp notes and lush chords, it was WITH THE HOUSE FULL.” ing for pianist Angelina Gadeliya, from the clear that the gods were pleased. Ukraine, who talked about its use of Jewish melodies during the preACJW violinist Owen Dalby had earlier told news reporters that the concert discussion. hall was “phenomenal—almost like another member of the ensemble.” The Schenectady Gazette review declared the hall “visually stunHe later added, “As good as it was in rehearsal, it was even better with the house full.” ning,” its acoustics “live” with a sound that was “warm and bright.” Prokofiev’s Quintet in G Minor, Op. 39, featured the unusual combiFrom a balcony seat, Albany’s Times-Union critic found that “moments nation of oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and double bass in a six-movein every piece showed the hall to have extraordinary acoustics.” But ment work of great tonal complexity. It was followed by David Bruce’s the strongest reviews came from those on stage. Violinist Dalby de2008 Gumboots for string quartet and clarinet, the latter masterfully scribed the concert as “one of those magical confluences of factors played by Sarah Beaty. Drawing on the experience of black prisoners that turn a great experience into a truly extraordinary one: roof-raising working in the mines during apartheid in South Africa, it opened with repertoire, palpable good vibes from a packed house, a common feel a tone of peaceful yearning, followed by increasingly animated and upfor both the historic occasion and the honor of being the first to perlifting dances. The audience responded with a standing ovation, and form on a new stage, and of course the absolutely remarkable composer and musicians sent the love right back with their own acoustics.” —KG




Bricks, mortar, and some pretty high tech

BY PAUL DWYER ’83 THe ZAnkel MuSIc cenTer is chockablock with technolTunIng THe concerT HAll ogy, some of it obvious, some less so, and some invisible to the A concert hall is a lot like a giant musical instrument, and the casual visitor. First, it’s really three buildings—concert hall, way sound waves are reflected or absorbed can make or break classroom and office area, and mechanical wing—each set on the listening experience. By adjusting the Ladd Concert Hall's its own foundation. This isolates vibrations and prevents proportions and materials, the Zankel’s architects and acoustisounds from spreading into other cians succeeded in making it neither IT’S REALLY THREE BUILDINGS— areas. too “bright” nor too “dead” acoustiCONCERT HALL, CLASSROOM AND OFFICE Each wall is a hero sandwich: cally. And the hall can be fine-tuned AREA, AND MECHANICAL WING— Two layers of drywall, then insulafor a soloist to a large symphony, for EACH SET ON ITS OWN FOUNDATION. tion and airspace cover a concrete acoustic or electric music, for performcore, with the same layers repeated on the other side. The wall ers onstage or in the orchestra pit, and so on. joints between the wings are lined with sheaths that allow Concertgoers will immediately notice the constellation of slight independent movement. Windows are triple-paned and faceted wooden acoustical panels high overhead. Most panels 1 inch thick, and doors weigh as much as 700 pounds each. are fixed, but two rows can be lowered to stage level and tilted, The result is a series of acoustic “bubbles,” allowing a lecture to with a hand-held joystick controller or from catwalks in the flybe clearly heard scant feet away from a drum practice. space. Two portable “orchestra shells” can unfold, accordionlike,






system transmits concert audio to headsets or earbuds (provided across the stage, either to reduce the sound reflecting off the on request) and to certain models of hearing aids. three-story glass wall behind the performers or to hide off-stage Coaxial and fiberoptic connectors aplenty should be able to performers and props. Motorized tracks around the side and back support any group. Touring companies who bring their own walls carry acoustical drapes or theatrical scrims, and motorized gear can route their cables in ceiling ladders or stage-level passblinds can diffusely screen or totally block that tall back window. throughs to the outdoors. Scores of stage lights, operated from There’s a dedicated mixer board for the 5.1 surround-sound the control booth, are powered by two tall cabinets, each with system, in addition to the separate audiovisual control booth. 400-amp, three-phase electrical service. That’s a lot of power. The audio system is isolated with its own ground to preclude any electronic hash from the lighting system, and the balcony speakers use a delay to ensure that sounds from the stage and the THe Info In Info TecH monitors reach listeners at the same time. There are some 40 In addition to, and wired to, the sound booth in the concert microphones, including different ones for voice and instruments, hall, is a recording studio on the Zankel’s basement level. The plus wireless hookups. The hall’s video capability includes two studio’s performance booth has sound-absorbing foam ceilings, remote-controlled, high-def cameras, and the sound booth conand the walls are broken up by alternating reflective (wood) and tains synchronized digital projectors that put out a combined absorptive (foam/fiber) panels with no right angles or large flat 12,000 lumens. Video and audio feeds can be patched to any part planes—all crafted to minimize echo and maximize recording of the building—including the performers’ green room. quality and fidelity. The heating and cooling system features double-wide ducting With video screens and audio hookups all over, lectures and designed for quiet. Even in an empty performances, whether live or recorded, WITH VIDEO SCREENS AND AUDIO hall, you can’t hear the airflow overcan be piped just about anywhere. The HOOKUPS ALL OVER, LECTURES AND head. Fire protection is provided by large Moore recital room has a remotely PERFORMANCES, WHETHER LIVE OR standard sprinklers, a fire hose operated camera and projection system, RECORDED, CAN BE PIPED JUST mounted in a stage wall, and a and can be used for small ensemble perABOUT ANYWHERE. super-duty “deluge” system overformances. A keyboard lab with headhead. A geothermal system heats and cools the hall and the phones allows an instructor or students to listen to each whole building. In fact, because heavy-duty soundproofing also keyboard separately or in groups. And a computer lab puts AV helps so much to maintain temperature, the geothermal system editing and other software at students’ fingertips. relies on fewer bores than a typical, comparably sized building Along with enjoying soundproof offices and classrooms, inwould require. structors and accompanists can draw on the highly wired buildUnder the hall’s oak stage is neoprene cushioning, creating a ing to retrieve online recordings—no more sending students to sprung floor for dance performances. In front of the main stage the library to listen to CDs. “For instructors who teach music area is an apron that is actually an elevator: It can be placed flush technology, the impact will be obvious,” says Tom Denny, chair at stage height, dropped to floor level for additional seating, or of the music department. “For those teaching from a historical lowered to the basement to create an orchestra pit. Of course, the or cultural perspective and those teaching performance, they’ll concert hall is handicapped-accessible, with wheelchair access via be able to enhance good teaching by immediately bringing in the enormous elevator in the lobby. A wireless assistive-listening media and materials as illustrations and discussion points.”



Join us October 15–17 for a weekend of family, friends, and Skidmore celebration! Make your plans to come to Skidmore for a weekend of events to celebrate the successful conclusion of the Creative Thought Bold Promise campaign. The impact of Skidmore’s largest-ever fundraising effort will be recognized during special activities to coincide with Celebration Weekend 2010. Here’s a sneak preview of major events we’re planning:

Dedication of the Arthur Zankel Music Center plus guided tours

President’s Hour Prism Concerts featuring Skidmore musicians

Minicollege Presentations with Skidmore faculty

Tang Museum 10th Anniversary Celebration featuring special tours and programs

Campaign Celebration Dinner

(by invitation only) recognizing leadership campaign donors and Friends of the Presidents Society members

Thoroughbred Athletic Contests Late Night at Zankel with cutting-edge performances

Campaign Dedication Ceremonies Celebration Weekend Festivities open houses, special tours, Under the Big Top performances, barbecue, Family Tree Reception, and more

There’s more to come, but mark your calendar now! Formal invitations to campaign events will be mailed this summer. For a complete schedule of events, visit, e-mail, or call 518-580-5670. For lodging and dining information, visit or call the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce: 518-584-3255.

Alumni join challenge in final campaign push The countdown is under way, as SkidWhy the spotlight on annual giving, our athletes, funds for exhibitions and more’s Creative Thought Bold Promise camwith its donations averaging perhaps just lectures and concerts, and much more.” paign crosses the finish line. Launched in a few hundred dollars each? While larger Special “friends of” societies provide an2004 as Skidmore’s most ambitious gifts to capital projects and endowment nual funding for the Tang Museum, athfundraising effort ever, it offiletics programs, and North cially closes on May 31, with Woods stewardship, and anits $200 million goal looking nual fund scholarships ensure well within reach. For camcrucial aid for individual stupaign staff and volunteers, dents for one or more years. the final leg has focused esOne way or another, Hamilpecially on annual fund gifts, ton says, “annual giving supslated to account for $35 milports all the distinctive lion of the $200 million strengths that define Skidtotal. more’s character—creative The drive to expand the curricula, our exceptional facannual fund, both in dollars ulty, a diverse student body, and in participation rates high-caliber facilities, our each year, has been a key scholar-athlete ethos, and our campaign challenge for Skidfostering of global citizenship. more (whose peer colleges In short, it supports the very typically have longer, foundations of Skidmore’s exstronger histories with ancellence.” Within the annual nual alumni giving). To help fund, donors at the $2,000 boost the effort Susan Ketterlevel (with a sliding scale for ing Williamson ’59, a Skidyounger alumni) are recogmore trustee and campaign nized as Friends of the Presico-chair, has pledged to add dents; their FOP-level gifts $1 million to her own gift for supply approximately 75 perthis year if at least 10,000 cent of total annual fund dolalumni, parents, and friends lars each year. make a gift, of any size, by Along with supporting STUDENT PHONE-CALLERS ACKNOWLEDGE ALL THE ALUMNI WHO SAID May 31. “In the last year of Skidmore’s operations, the the campaign,” she explains, YES TO THE ANNUAL FUND. annual fund supports rela“we want to finish strong.” With that finfunds are crucial for specific new initiationships that also help define the Colish arriving during a severe economic retives, annual fund gifts are budget-relievlege experience and its lifelong value, cession, she adds, “now more than ever, ing and unrestricted as to use, providing says Davis Bradford ’96, chair of youngthe College needs the support of every ready money for Skidmore’s operating alumni giving. Since it affects students member of the Skidmore community.” budget each year. And that means far and their studies directly, “when alumni Knowing that alumni spirit can “go more than paying participate in the “THEY’RE STRENGTHENING THE viral,” with classmates’ gifts inspiring utility bills or buyannual fund at TIES THAT CAN ENRICH THEIR OWN any level, they’re others to join in, the challenge leaders ing computers, acLIVES AND THOSE OF FUTURE quickly expanded class volunteer teams, cording to Nancy engaging in the SKIDMORE GENERATIONS.” who set clear goals for their progress— Hamilton ’77, the students-toand hit their marks like clockwork so far. alumni board’s chair of annual giving. alumni continuum,” Bradford says. Currently more than 600 volunteers are She says the annual fund “provides fi“They’re strengthening the ties that can at work on the challenge (trackable at nancial aid for students, lab equipment enrich their own lives and those of future and supplies in the sciences, uniforms for Skidmore generations.”



Little wonder that annual giving is a aNNual FuNd sTaTs 2003–09 alumni participation measure of alumni alumni is tracked and prosatisfaction with Participation year Total raised moted zealously by their college expe2008–09 $6,097,871 30% the annual fund’s rience. Alumni 2007–08 $6,413,978 34% leaders, who happily participation rates 2006–07 $6,235,258 37% cite strength-inare likewise a facnumbers statistics— tor for foundations 2005–06 $5,657,901 38% for example, 1,000 considering grant 2004–05 $5,211,401 41% donors of less than proposals. 2003–04 $5,092,267 40% $100 each can make The Williamson it possible for four students to attend Challenge was designed to transform Skidmore who otherwise couldn’t afford alumni giving, first to push the campaign it. Participation is also counted by college over the finish line and more strategically rating guides like US News & World Reto set a new course for the annual fund port—in their formulas, participation in well into the future. That was the cam-

paign’s strategy too: To reach its $35 million goal in annual giving, it needed to spur a 50 percent increase over past performance. According to the campaign’s director, Tracy Barlok, that expansion is the minimum needed to ensure that Skidmore can offer its distinctive educational experience while staying competitive with its peers. Given such challenging times, Skidmore’s annual fund leaders are aiming to reach $7 million and 40 percent or higher participation by 2012. A full report on the campaign’s achievements, including the rise of the annual fund, will appear in the next Scope magazine. —SR



You could be sitting pretty.*


aples-area alumni welcomed spring with a March garden tour, luncheon, and lecture at the Naples Botanical Garden. Forty-plus alumni, parents, and friends toured the 70-acre grounds and heard a lecture by the garden’s executive director, Brian Holley. Bonnie Smith ’60 says,”The scope of the garden was amazing,” although an unusually cold Florida winter had delayed many plants from blooming. Carole Maeder ’65, calling the gardens “a winner,” says she would like to visit again next year. Joan Fredericks Whetstone ‘49 reports the grounds were “much larger and more extensive than I expected, and the flora represented covered the whole tropical world.” Noting the big turnout for the event, she says, “The informality of the picnic lunch gave us a good chance to chat with other alums.” —PD

The opening of the Arthur Zankel Music Center is a transformative moment in the history of Skidmore College. Be part of this historic new venue by underwriting a seat in its Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall. When you name a seat, an inscribed plate will be permanently attached to it, creating a lasting legacy in your name, in the name of a friend or faculty member, in someone’s memory, or in recognition of a company or organization.

Details at or call 518-580-5660

*actual seat not pictured here!




linking arts and ecosystems


Undertaking ever-more-complex sci“I always wanted to be an artist, and ence and art projects led Damon to create Skidmore had a fantastic art department,” a 250-foot cast of a dry river bed in Castle says Betsy Damon ’63. After three years Valley, Utah, in 1985—a pivotal point in on campus and her junior year in Japan, her career. While working on A Memory of she went on to earn an MFA at Columbia. Clean Water, as she named it, Damon real“After that, it was all about finding my ized her knowledge of water was limited way as an artist. It took a long time to and decided to devote her artistic endeavfind my voice. Women were not supors to “awakening public consciousness” posed to become real artists.” to the importance of this natural reDamon’s involvement in the feminist source. In 1991 she founded the nonmovement in the early 1970s initiated profit Keepers of the Waters (with support much self-exploration and was “a time of great innovation,” she recalls. Steering away from her traditional training, she created performance-art pieces such as the 7000 Year Old Woman, in which she painted herself white and tied several hundred small sacks of colored flour—60 pounds’ worth—to her body. She also founded a Feminist Art Studio at Cornell University and for 20 years led WATER ACTIVIST AND ARTIST BETSY DAMON ’63 ON BEIJING’S LIANG workshops through from the University of Minnesota’s HuNo Limits for Women Artists, which inbert Humphrey Institute), which works spired artists nationwide to pursue their with communities to inspire and promote greatest visions. “That may seem old-fashioned,” she says; “however, it was a real projects that restore, preserve, and remestruggle, and I never met a successful diate water sources using art and science. woman artist who was not aware of that.” “We have acted as if it does not matter Her own success has been marked by what we do to and with water,” Damon numerous awards and grants. says, catching herself on the brink of what she calls a “long lecture” and then CREATIVE THINKERS stating simply, “Water is life.” One of her best-known projects to date is the Living As part of Skidmore’s showcase of creWater Garden, a six-acre award-winning ative thought at work, Scope presents public park in downtown Chengdu, these alumni profiles. For more about China. Polluted river water moves how their Skidmore studies shaped through a natural and artistic treatment theirlife’s work, see http://cms.skidsystem of ponds and filters, making the more. edu/ctw. More CTW profiles are process of cleaning water visible. Accordin this issue’s Class Notes section. ing to Damon, the park was initially op-



posed by Beijing’s central government but later declared “the best model of environmental education in the country. It opened the door for a dialogue to challenge the national policy of ‘develop first, clean up later, and engineering and chemicals will solve all our problems.’” Much of Damon’s work has been completed in China, including water treatment systems at Olympic Forest Park, the Wenyu River, and Tongzhou Ecological Park, all in Beijing. The United States has “so many archaic rules and regulations that it is hard to do meaningful projects here,” she says, noting that historically there seems to be “less respect for natural systems and artists than in Europe and China.” Nonetheless, some of Keepers’ notable projects in the US include the Sounds of Water fountain at the Turtle Bay Arboretum in Redding, Calif., the DaVinci MA HE Water Garden in Portland, Ore., and Water Marks in Carnation, Wash. (For details and photos, visit “I like uniting diverse groups—artists, scientists, engineers, city planners, architects, and a wide variety of cultural and class perspectives—to focus different kinds of intelligences on a problem,” Damon says. “Cities all over the planet can be filled with vibrant water- and artfilled community centers, parks, schoolyards, businesses, and backyards that help people become intimately connected to their water sources. These projects will lead the way for fully sustainable water infrastructures, visible and integrated into our everyday lives, rather than hidden under the ground.” —MTS


forging ties to connect but not bind


real business world. It gave me an opporand start selling a new kind of tie, patHad Shep Murray ’93 not woken up tunity to roll up my sleeves and think terned with designs to signify the good one day and put on the same suit and tie outside the box.” life, on Martha’s Vineyard that very next as his boss at a New York City ad agency, Outside the box is the only place Mursummer. the fashion and marketing phenomenon ray and his brother could have found the The rest is history. known as Vineyard Vines might never essential idea that “We never went have come to pass. Because he and his “BEING ETHICAL, VALUING led to Vineyard out there just to boss happened to pull identical garb from PARTNERSHIPS, AND GIVING BACK make money,” says Vines’ founding in their closets that fateful morning in 1997, ARE HUGE PARTS OF WHAT 1998. Both brothMurray, recalling Murray experienced a sartorial epiphany: WE’VE ACCOMPLISHED.” ers wanted to esthe influence of Young professionals of his generation cape New York City advertising jobs they James Settel, Skidmore’s Harder Professor needed neckties that were unique, classy, hated. Both wanted to spend more time of Business Administration in the early and fun. 1990s. “He stressed the importance of on Martha’s Vineyard, where they had The story of how Murray and his being ethical and honest. And that’s the vacationed throughout childhood. And brother Ian came up with the idea for a way we’ve done it from the start. Being both hated wearing ties—especially bornew company, and on the same day quit ethical, treating our employees well, ing ties. During a vacation in the West their jobs to start building it, is central in treating our customers well, valuing partIndies, the path out of this predicament Vineyard Vines lore. The company now nerships, and giving back are huge parts became clear: They would quit their jobs sells not only preppy New England–style of what we’ve accomplished.” ties but also khakis, shirts, handVineyard Vines’ Facebook bags, flipflops, swimsuits, notepage, which has more than cards, and more through its 12,000 fans, reveals not only catalog, Web site, and the nine the cheerful rapport that the stores it owns in places like Murrays have established with Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, their customers, but also their and Memphis, Tenn.—growth commitment to worthy causes. that testifies both to the power In their new “Tied to a Cause” of the brand the Murrays have program, for example, they probeen developing for the last 12 duce custom ties, tote bags, and years and to the engaged enthuother items for their favorite siasm of their customers. charities and donate all proLike many first-year students, ceeds from the sale of those Murray came to Skidmore unitems. Their first partner in this sure exactly what direction to is the Waterkeeper Alliance pursue in life but eager to exfounded by Robert F. Kennedy plore all that the College ofJr. to protect water from polfered. A talented guitarist and luters. singer, he thought he might “It really has been rewardmajor in music. Then he being,” says Murray, who resides came enthralled by his literature with wife Margo and three chilcourses and decided he might dren in Stamford, Conn., when major in English. Finally, his innot on the Vineyard. “I get to terests turned to management wake up every morning, drive and business, starting with the my kids to school, and create a introductory business-methods product that people love. I course MB107. That course, he work with great people, we recalls, “gave students the have great customers, and it’s chance to work together as a awesome to be able to make team and come up with a solupeople happy.” —DF tion for a real-life company, CREATIVE HABERDASHERY IS A WINNING FORMULA FOR SHEP MURRAY ’93 AND HIS VINEYARD VINES TEAM. which is what you do in the




Shooting star keeps his feet on the ground ODETTE SUGERMAN, CELEBRITY PICTURES

Riff in West Side Story. After graduation Micah Sloat ’04 purBut he also studied sued his dream of making it as an actor guitar, helped found in Hollywood. He was supporting himself the a cappella group in LA as a guitarist, singer, and self-taught Drastic Measures, computer programmer when, browsing played baseball and one day, he found a casting polo, worked with call for a film that had no script and SkidTV, and practiced would be shot mostly in the dark. The martial arts. His acaaudition was nearby, so he went—and demic passion was phigot the part. losophy, and he credits Fast-forward three years. That shot-inhis study of Wittgenthe-dark movie, Paranormal Activity, bestein with Prof. Matcame a world-famous sleeper: made for thew Ostrow for giving just $11,000, astutely marketed on the him the courage to Web, and now with the highest earningspursue his Hollywood to-costs ratio in film history. It was also a dreams. critical success, scoring 91 percent among “I was obsessed with top critics on and finding ‘the truth,’” he nominated as the Film Independent recalls, “and the more Spirit Awards’ “Best First Feature” and the I studied, the more I rePeople’s Choice Awards’ “Best Independalized there was no exent Feature.” “Beyond the viral ingenuity ternal truth to validate of the marketing,” observed Richard what I wanted to do. Corliss in Time, “what’s cool about PA is The meaning of my that it’s not just a fun thrill ride; it’s an life would have to instructive artistic experience.” come from me. It took For Sloat, the film brought instant me an entire summer stardom. Scan his Facebook page and of marinating in Witthere's his appearance on Leno with cogenstein’s Tractatus star Katie Featherston; here’s a reference INDIE MOVIE STAR MICAH SLOAT ’04 USES HIS WITTGENSTEIN Logico- Philosophicus, to People magazine’s naming him “one of STUDIES TO KEEP HIS HEAD IN THE REAL GAME OF LIFE. but I finally grasped the sexiest men alive”; here’s the satire of poses—in fact, PA writer-director Oren what he meant when he observed that PA that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin Peli paid him $1 for the rights to two ‘the real discovery is the one which enperformed at the Academy Awards. Sloat original compositions used in the film ables me to stop doing philosophy when says, “I’ve moved from being another (listen carefully to the radio during the I want to.’” Sloat debroke actor hoping ”WHEN YOU LISTEN TO WHO YOU cided that “success is dinner scenes). And he still practices the to get a decent audiARE AND WHAT YOUR BODY martial arts, now focusing on Krav Maga, just a byproduct of tion somewhere, to WANTS TO DO, YOU GET OUT OF doing what you love, an electic approach developed in Israel. being thrown into YOUR OWN WAY, AND YOUR PATH not the target itself.” Paramount is planning a sequel to really big rooms BECOMES VERY CLEAR.” Paranormal Activity, but Sloat wasn’t yet That philosophy with movie stars and sure if he’ll be a part of it. And that’s fine still guides him. He sings with the LAcompeting for lead roles in TV shows with him. “When you just listen to who based Westminster Chorus, which was with people who have been doing guestyou are and what your body wants to do, named 2009 “Choir of the World” and star roles for a decade. I’ve really had to you get out of your own way, and your won the Pavarotti Trophy at the Internastep up my game.” path becomes very clear. It’s all about tional Musical Eisteddfod in Wales and Though Sloat traces his interest in actopening up, being honest, and following which will compete this year for the coving back to the lead he played in The Very your heart—though if I were still broke in eted Barbershop Harmony Society gold Grouchy Ladybug in kindergarten, it was at Hollywood, maybe I wouldn’t say that,” medal (Sloat serves as the society’s webSkidmore that he began to pursue it, takhe laughs. —DF master). He also plays guitar and coming several theater courses and playing



Alumni embrace Africa


Ethiopian orphans are among the newest Saratoga Springs residents. As of March, 11 local families were in the process of adopting children from Ethiopia, following the lead of photographer Emma Dodge Hanson ’93 and her husband, Skidmore faculty member Marc Woodworth ’84. Through Adoption Advocates International, they are already parents to Ethiopian-born Calla, 6, and Ryder, 2. Moved by the number of kids in need, they also started the GRACE Fund (for Generosity Reduces Adoption Costs for Everyone) to help pay the administrative costs of adopting an older child, or a set of siblings, or a kid with HIV or other health issues. Africa won the heart of Eliza Hatch ’06 when she first visited Tanzania as a Skidmore student. Soon after graduation she took a job with Thomson Safaris, which operates in Tanzania and partners with an educational, health, and civic nonprofit called Focus on Tanzanian Com-

FoTZC rely on Tanzanian staff and comIn Tanzania, Hatch’s safari-goers get so munity leaders, whom Hatch and colwell acquainted with some communities leagues “feel very close to” after their that they’re often eager to help them many collaborations. after the safari ends. She says building Relationship-building is also key to schools or providing books “is fairly the health-care aid provided by Kathy easy; the hard part is deciding among the Chambery ’66. In 2008 the special-ed many worthy projects, because we never teacher went to Tanzania to install 3,000 want to leave one behind.” Another locally made bed nets (mosquito barriers challenge is convincing donors to give that can effectively unrestricted gifts, HANSON WAS TOUCHED BY prevent malaria) in rather than specifyPEOPLE’S WARMTH AND schools and hosing the items or asHUMANITY DESPITE THEIR OFTEN pitals, as part of a pects their money CRUSHING DEPRIVATION AND joint project by the can support. It’s CHRONICALLY UNMET NEEDS. Canadian governhard to administer ment and Rotary International clubs piecemeal funds for multiple uses, so she across Ontario. Later she joined a polio hopes donors will value FoTZC’s overall vaccination project in Ethiopia, linking mission and entrust their gifts to its genSeattle and Vancouver-area Rotarians eral budget. with their Ethiopian counterparts. For Chambery, a concern was the burOf course, fundraising is essential to den placed on her African hosts when such efforts in distant, impoverished well-meaning American and Canadian areas. But much of that too is about volunteers descended on them. “We were human connections. Last winter, Hanson warmly welcomed,” she notes, but over was in Addis time “we witnessed the fatigue of caring Ababa, with for visitors.” Better, she counsels, to have two American the volunteers bear more of the expenses friends, to rewhen possible. visit the orLike other alumni aiding Africa—from phanage she ‘71ers Judy Willsey, Sandy Lipson, and supports. Barbara Tsairis working for World Class While the in Ghana to ’04 grad Will Schmerge youngest working for Give Us Wings in Kenya and children live Uganda—Hanson was touched by peoin its Wanna ple’s warmth and humanity despite their House, the often crushing deprivation and chroniolder kids cally unmet needs. On her winter trip, wait and Hanson told the Albany Times-Union, she hope in Layla watched the orphans, who were clearly House. Hanexcited about a donated playground son recently slide, wait politely in line to take turns published on it. Another time, the children enHELPING ETHIOPIAN ORPHANS IS JUST ONE WAY THAT SKIDMORE ALUMNI Faces of Layla, joyed idly braiding her hair. “The kids ARE LENDING AID ACROSS AFRICA. a book of her just want to be near you,” she said. “It warm, strong portraits of these residents. was such a lesson in how little you need munities. Along with prepping and advisIts sales have raised more than $43,000 to be happy.” ing Thomson customers before their for the GRACE Fund, which Hanson and For these and other Skiddies, a little trips, Hatch serves as the administrative Woodworth began in 2006 with just time, money, and self is all that’s needed director for FoTZC. (By night, she’s also $5,000. Hanson says the fund has helped to generate happiness for both giver and a grad student in international health at place 106 children so far. receiver. —SR Boston University.) Both Thomson and





DANCING IN THE STREET? Where are these students partying, what was the occasion, and when? If you have an answer, tell us the story at 518-580-5747,, or Scope c/o Skidmore College. We’ll report answers, and run a new quiz, in the upcoming Scope magazine.

FROM LAST TIME Skidmore visitors? Judy Parsons ’62 recognizes the exchange students from Atlanta’s Spelman College in 1960. “I was privileged to be ‘partnered’ with Norma Wilson (second from right), and I remember we met with New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller.” (His grandfather John D. Rockefeller, of Standard Oil fame, married Laura Spelman in 1864, and the Rockefeller Foundation was a supporter of Spelman College). Parsons adds, “The visit from these women was a great motivation to many of us to get more involved in the civil rights movement.” The photo evokes “warm and happy vibes” for Claire Hawkins Seaquist ’61. “I got to know and enjoy one of the pictured students, because my roommate Pam White Leighton ’61, through the sociology department, was her hostess. The program was truly successful on the Skidmore end; I trust and hope our visitors would say the same.” Leighton notes, “Coming from Seattle to Skidmore, I had no experience with black people, so race just didn’t register in my mind one way or the other. But I know from my roommate that the exchange made a big impact on many students.” Barbara Block Zwick ’60, a Memphis native, recalls Skidmore’s



minimal geographic diversity: “We were the foreign students in those days.” Sandra Blair Ohanian ’60 is reminded of a 1959 exchange with Nashville’s Fisk University, another historically black college. She recalls, “I was one of those chosen to visit Fisk. The students were very welcoming and friendly; I remember that experience fondly. But it was eye-opening to see how blacks in the South were treated. Walking down the street with them, I was yelled at as a ‘nigger lover’ from cars driving by.” Karen Kramm Meyer ’60 also participated in a Fisk exchange—“quite an avant-garde program for Skidmore to undertake.” She found it “enlightening and somewhat strange to be immersed in the world of middle-class black students. I remember their warm welcome, and their protectiveness when they took me to tour the city.” Coincidentally, just last year Skidmore and Spelman again swapped student visitors. Cori Filson, who coordinates Skidmore’s off-campus studies, was “thrilled to discover we have reinvigorated an old connection between our institutions.”






SWEET! It’s a boom time for cupcakes. They’re being stacked in lieu of wedding cakes, passed on silver trays at fancy fundraisers, rated by blogs and Web sites, and judged at gourmet bakeoffs from coast to coast. Saratoga Springs is au-so-courant with Bettie’s Cakes, the retro “cupcakery café” in the Downstreet Marketplace on Broadway. It looks like Ozzie Nelson’s dream malt shop, with bright pink and turquoise walls and booths, boomerang-patterned Formica tabletops, and a jukebox crooning “Why Must I Be a Teenager in Love?” Owner Lorraine “Bettie” Murphy, who displays a keen eye for nostalgia, has the cupcake thing figured out: “A cake is a commitment,” she says, but “cupcakes are the perfect size for a well-deserved reward.” A friend and I rewarded ourselves with two mini-cupcakes each ($1.25 per)—Mocha Madness, Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Cup, and Root Beer Float, the latter cleverly topped with frothy icing and a tiny straw. They were so scrumptious we were unable to resist a create-your-own “injectable” ($3.25) as well. What could beat a chocolate cupcake with whoopee-pie filling, espresso icing, and chocolate sprinkles? (Regular cupcakes are $2.25–2.75, or $4.50 for jumbo size.) There are plenty of other dessert options in town, and locals do have their favorites. Carrot cake ($5.50) has been a top choice at Scallion’s, now on Lake Avenue, for decades. At Ravenous, the crêperie on Phila Street, many opt for the Dulce de Leche ($6.95)— butterscotchcaramel spread rolled in a crêpe with toasted pecans and served up with sliced peaches and whipped cream. The Bread Basket bakery on Spring Street has a stream of regulars who duck in for coffee and pastry,

éclairs, a wide selection of cookies ($12 per pound), and, yes, cupcakes. The Circus Café on Broadway, true to its theme, even serves up homemade cotton candy ($4). Chianti, the elegant Italian eatery on Congress Street, is a Saratoga favorite for pastas and risottos that can too easily close out any hope of managing dessert. So my husband and I shared a light dinner that left room to enjoy a Tartuffo ($8) of hazelnut-chocolate gelato with vanilla filling and a Meringata Alla Crema ($8), a wonderful yin and yang of crisp macaroons and soft cream, of sweet macerated pear and sour kiwi. If you’ve got a really hungry group, head out to the Prime restaurant at Saratoga National Golf Course for the Titanic ($19) —billed as a “conversation piece” for two to four people, with layers of strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate-fudge cake, topped with toasted almonds, whipped cream, and pirouline cookies. Whew. Oh, and it’s served with hot fudge sauce. Of course it’s impossible to think of dessert in Saratoga Springs and not head to Mrs. London’s. Widely acknowledged as one of the best bakeries this side of Paris, it is also a perfectly comfortable place to linger over coffee or black-currant tea while catching up with a friend. From the array of goodies in the display cases, we selected the Chocolate Raspberry Supreme ($7), layerings of chocolate mousse and cake with raspberry cream and coulis, and a Hazelnut Cream Slice ($7), with its delightful contrasts of plush cream and crunchy crystallized nuts, delicate cake, and a top cobbled with slivered almonds. We settled in for a long chat, a rare treat almost as sweet as our world-class confections of exquisite taste and refined beauty. —KG





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