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Here you will find reviews, previews, artist profiles, and opinions about music in 2021. This publication will highlight musical activities in Oberlin and Greater Cleveland, as well as regionally, nationally, and internationally.

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This project was recently featured in the Oberlin Review! Read the article, written by managing editor Kate Fishman: The Updraft Publishes Dynamic Music Journalism.”

A Requiem for Katrina: How Music Saved the City of New Orleans

Max Becherer/AP

Early on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. When the storm made landfall, it was recorded as a category three hurricane. The storm itself did a great deal of damage, particularly in the city of New Orleans, but the real catastrophe lay in its aftermath. Levee breaches and the failure of the city’s floodwalls led to massive inundation of over eighty percent of New Orleans’ neighborhoods.

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BRUITS: “We are Blocked”

Imani Winds’ Statement of Justice & Equity

“There are all sorts of emotions that can be encapsulated by art,” Imani Winds’ oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz said in a recent interview. On February 5 2021, the Imani Winds released BRUITS, a recording project that indeed captured the emotions of Black and Brown people while emphasizing a needed change to an underlying American history. It features three world premieres by composers Vijay Iyer, Reena Esmail, and Frederic Rzewski.

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If it Smells like Funk

Silk Sonic’s Debut Performance at the 2021 Grammy Awards Show

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
(L-R) Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars of music group Silk Sonic perform onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards broadcast on March 14, 2021.

Artists Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak have combined their musical talents to form the duo Silk Sonic. This collaboration has led to their debut single Leave the Door Open, a track that reminds many listeners of the soulful R&B of the 70s. With matching copper suits and a vibe reminiscent of the syndicated television program Soul Train, Silk Sonic delivered their debut TV performance at the 2021 Grammy Awards show on March 14th after successfully petitioning the Recording Academy through the power of Social Media.

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Your Life Will Improve When You Stop Hating Pop

At some point in our lives, we’ve all had that friend who has been the Pop Hater. You know the one: no matter what you put on, from Drake to Billie Eilish, they will turn up their nose and vehemently reject listening to anything they consider to be “pop.” You may be thinking, “I don’t have any friends like this, what are they talking about?” In this case, I envy your freedom. However, if you’re thinking “this is dumb, why would somebody defend pop?” I have some bad news for you, you are the pop hater. Growing up in the mid 2000s, I must admit that I, too, was a pop hater at one point. My middle school self would scowl if shown anything featuring Justin Beiber or Ke$ha. But after some reflection and exposure therapy, by the end of high school I had been shown the light. 

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Simon Housner’s Concert Series Will Capture Your Heart

Sacred Heart Concert Series musicians, photographed by Jake Zweiback

With the overall success of Simon Housner’s Sacred Heart Concert Series in Oberlin, it’s hard to imagine that he had actually quit playing cello at one point in his life. A native of Philadelphia, Housner was raised in a musical family — both of his parents are pianists who met at Oberlin. But it wasn’t until he was in high school that Housner truly became passionate about the cello.

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Representing Classical Musicians On Screen

Two of my lifelong loves are writing and music, and I’m fortunate to be able to balance them both. A third is a guilty pleasure — watching bingeable TV, mostly period dramas depicting centuries-old royal families and the scandals, drama and romance that follow them. There’s nothing like seeing the fancy costumes, elaborate sets, and beautiful locations, and diving into that historic world for seasons on end. 

How lucky I am when all three loves combine on-screen in depicting the world of classical music and musicians. It’s the best mix I could ever want, right? Wrong! Nothing grinds my gears more than seeing untrained actors attempt to portray classical musicians when using real musicians could do the job a million times better. 

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Artist Profile: Derek Zadinsky, Bassist

Any modern working musician would agree with bassist Derek Zadinsky, who said in a recent phone call that “in professional life, you never say no to opportunity, at least when you’re getting started.” A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and a member of The Cleveland Orchestra, he has made the most of his musical opportunities and shows a passion for them. Not only is Zadinsky a member of one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world, he also teaches at multiple highly-acclaimed music schools in Northeast Ohio.

Zadinsky talks about his teaching career as the result of being in the right place at the right times and having connections with other bassists, like his colleagues in The Cleveland Orchestra. “I joined the Orchestra in February of 2012 and started teaching at Cleveland State University in the fall. The next year Max Dimoff called me and asked if I wanted to join the Cleveland Institute of Music faculty, and I said ‘Sure, of course!’ The following year, after Tom Sperl left the Oberlin faculty, Scott Dixon asked if I would also be interested in teaching there.” Currently Zadinsky has several students between both CIM and Oberlin as well as leading a couple of classes like double bass repertoire. “I’m honestly still not sure how to manage it all, but I’ve always had a nice balance of students between schools. It’s a great honor to have students who want to work with you.”

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Reimagining Bodies, Identity, and Power in our Universities through Pauline Oliveros’ “Sonic Meditations”

Flirting with musicians over Tinder is strange. I often find myself in an effort to flex every intellectual muscle possible, and more recently, somehow wound up discussing the composers Hildegard von Bingen, Meredith Monk, and Pauline Oliveros. These women have been on my mind recently as I prepare to leave undergrad, remarking on my undergrad. Each of these women fashion embodied performance, stretching the boundaries of sound and composition, reimagining the physical body and the structure of storytelling, and a feminine perspective on creativity. To this, my cellist Tinder match (they/he) responded, perhaps also flexing a muscle:

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