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Faculty News

Tesla & Lovelace: Songs of Vision and Strife

tesla-lovelace-poster-smallTwo new musical compositions will have their world premiere in the Concert Hall at Fresno State on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. The compositions focus on two historic visionaries – Nikola Tesla and Ada Lovelace.

The concert will be preceded by a free talk at 7 p.m. with composer Dr. Kenneth D. Froelich, a professor of theory and composition in the Music Department.

Tesla and Lovelace were both figures way ahead of their times. Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian-American inventor, who contributed to the development of the alternating-current electrical system widely used today. His “Tesla coil” is still used in radio technology.

The first song cycle is called “In My Mind’s Eye: Songs of Nikola Tesla,” featuring tenor-baritone Constantine Pappas and two-channel electronic accompaniment. The texts were written by Allison Armerding, and they alternate from the perspective of Tesla as an inventor and other moments that deal with his difficulties with depression.

froelichheadshot“The piece, from a musical perspective, really does borrow from both traditions of classical music as well as from modern electronic music,” Froelich said. “So you have this blending of these two genres being sung by an operatic singer. The end result is a score that merges the aesthetics of classical art song and modern electronic music into a wholly unique dramatic song cycle.”

The other song cycle is “Finite Differences: Songs of Ada Lovelace,” featuring soprano Ann Moss and the Hausmann String Quartet. The texts for this piece were written by John Grimmett.

Lovelace (1815-1852) was a gifted mathematician, and is considered to have written instructions for the first computer program in the mid-1800s.

“This one has a very concrete structure, where the songs alternate one after the other between the dual identities that Ada Lovelace had between being a computer scientist, an inventor with this mechanical, mathematical mind, but then also the fact that she is the daughter of Lord Byron,” Froelich explained. “So she also had this wishing to fly – that’s a phrase that occurs many times throughout the song cycle, she has dreams, flights of fancy. She never actually knew her father. Lord Byron left her mother when she was a baby. And he died shortly thereafter. So she always had this yearning to know more about her dad. So the songs alternate between being mechanical, rigid songs and these songs which are quite lyrical and lush.”

Tickets are $15 general, $10 for employees and seniors, and free for students. Details are available at

Building Connections Through Art

mjurka-portraitOct. 11, 2016

Benefits gained by studying the arts and humanities – self-awareness, creative problem solving, appreciation of diversity and development of collaborative work habits – are applicable in a wide range of careers, said Dr. Una Mjurka, an associate professor of art and ceramics at Fresno State.

Mjurka, winner of the 2015-16 Provost’s Award in Faculty Service, will discuss “Ceramics and Community: Building Connections Through Art” in a lecture at 3:30 on Wednesday, Oct. 12, in the Henry Madden Library.

Mjurka spearheaded a service project benefiting the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Working with students, alumni, faculty and staff, she oversaw the creation of ceramic pieces for the zoo’s new African Adventure exhibit.

Mjurka’s lecture will discuss the roles that ceramic materials play in the development and sustainability of various cultures.

“Historically, the ceramic medium has been influential not only as a form of artistic expression, but also in the development and sustainability of various cultures,” Mjurka said. “The broad, diverse application of ceramic materials continues to play a significant part in advancing society as well as in bringing people together — from aeronautics to dinner parties, ceramic has its role. Through their creative practice in ceramics, our students obtain the necessary skills for working with the medium, but they may also discover a unique expressive voice that contributes to our community in a meaningful way.”

The Provost’s Awards Lecture Series honors and showcases the recipients of the Provost’s Awards (2015-2016) and provides them an opportunity to present, share and discuss their work with the campus.

“It is a humbling experience to be selected for the Provost’s Award for Faculty Service from a group of esteemed colleagues nominated for this honor university-wide,” Mjurka said. “It also is exhilarating to be recognized for the contributions I have made to enriching the arts scene both on campus and within the local community. I am thrilled to represent the dynamic group of dedicated faculty members teaching at the Department of Art and Design.”

Dr. Carmen Caprau, of the College of Science and Mathematics and recipient of the Distinguished Achievent in Research, Scholarship or Creative Activity Award, will also speak at the Oct. 12 lecture. Caprau’s lecture, “Why Knot,” will discuss Knot Theory, which analyzes a tangible object and develops it into a body of mathematical knowledge with many applications in other areas of math and science, and using it to introduce students to mathematical research.

The lecture series aims to raise the level of academic and intellectual discourse among colleagues, and to enrich connections with others across the campus.

Mjurka said statistical evidence supports the belief that study and participation in the fine and performing arts improves learning throughout all academic areas.

“Our youth are overwhelmed with data and often are searching for meaningful learning experiences. The arts and humanities readily provide such opportunities to majors and non-majors alike.”

Lectures, which take place on the second floor of the Henry Madden Library in Room 2206 (south wing), last about 45 minutes with 15 minutes for questions from the audience. The Provost’s Awards Lecture Series is open to the public.

Some of Mjurka’s recent artwork is on display at the Corridor 2122 gallery (2122 Mono St.) in downtown Fresno. Her exhibition of sculptural ceramics titled “In Absentia” will remain on display through Oct. 23. Read more about her exhibit here.

The Changing Face of Study Abroad Programs

From the ELEVATE conference, in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, in front of Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor.

Oct. 7, 2016

w-arce-photoFresno State President Joseph I. Castro selected English Department Professor William Arce as the Presidential Nominee to participate in two programs during the summer break:

  • “Elevate,” the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions.
  • “International Faculty Development Seminar,” by the Council on International Educational Exchange.

Here is Arce’s account of those experiences:

Yes, I was hesitant. As a tenure-track assistant professor, I need my summer time.  My summer is spent writing and researching, developing syllabi for the Fall semester, and scheduling “me-time” in order to ameliorate the frenetic pace of the school year.

Summer time is the tonic to my work-related stress.  So when the president of my home institution, Fresno State, invited me to participate in two different summer programs I was tempted to say, “Thank you, but I’ve already committed my summer to researching and writing.”

Participating in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI’s) program “ELEVATE,” and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE’s) program “International Faculty Development Seminar” (IFDS) seemed like too much; even the names of these programs sounded overwhelming.

Still, the expressed objective driving the partnership between CMSI and CIEE was important to me because it addressed a problematic sentiment I held during my undergraduate years at U.C.  Berkeley regarding study abroad programs.

The online literature discussing the partnership stated that they wanted to change the face of study abroad for students of color. Dr. Marybeth Gasman, the director of CMSI, is quoted on CMSI’s homepage as stating, “Together, we are working to break down the barriers of cost, curriculum, and culture that prevent far too many students of color from experiencing international study. This significant financial support will have a direct impact on some of our country’s brightest students.”

Her words struck a chord with me. My parents are both immigrants from Costa Rica, and I grew up in the poverty-stricken barrios of South Central, Los Angeles, during the region’s violent years of the 1980s.  During my undergraduate years, I thought of study abroad programs as “not-for-me,” but rather as programs designed for, and targeted to, white Americans.

In those days, advertisement for study abroad programs usually displayed images of young white students in European countries next to famous landmarks, or in “exotic” locations photographed next to dark-skinned native people who looked like me. Worst yet, I believed countries hosting study abroad programs expected white Americans to visit their country, not displaced natives from developing countries such as myself.

I remember wanting to go, but would make excuses for not participating such as affordability and graduation schedule, but really, it was the “not-for-me” sentiment that barred me from pursuing what I secretly imagined would be a wildly exciting adventure. In retrospect, I understand my belief was inaccurate, that hype and hate had overwhelmed hope, and I had become my own obstacle.  I successfully completed my education (including a post-doctoral degree) without setting foot in foreign libraries.

I am now an assistant professor conducting research specific to Latino literature in mainland U.S.A. and the Caribbean (Puerto Rico). My research, much like my identity, has greatly benefited from exposure to different peoples, to diverse ways of processing knowledge.  I consider myself an Estadunidense (Spanish word for “from the U.S.”), but aspire to become a global citizen.

I sincerely believe in the experiential knowledge travel provides, and consequently, I accepted the invitation to participate in both programs hoping to find in CMSI and CIEE the pedagogical tools necessary to convey to my students the intellectual maturity that accompanies cross-cultural exchanges. As an undergraduate I had not participated in study abroad programs, but perhaps, as a professor I could still commune with its zeitgeist.

My experience at CMSI’s ELEVATE was phenomenal. It was only three days long, but intensely informative. Dr. Marybeth Gasman, one of the nation’s leading scholars on Minority Serving Institutions, led the program from start to finish. She was generous with her time and exuded an old-fashioned can-do attitude.

In collaboration with the Director, CMSI’s staff helped transform the Center into one lean and efficient organization collectively working toward a single goal: to help ELEVATE participants achieve tenure. Yearly tenure reviews, publication schedules, grant writing, mentorship, pedagogy, even life balance issues were discussed in timely, well-organized sessions.

I was grateful to have access to CMSI’s resources while on site, and for the delicious food they provided throughout the day.  Due to my participation in ELEVATE, I forged new professional relationships that have already yielded publication opportunities.

Weeks later, I was fortunate to reconnect with various participants of ELEVATE during the CIEE’s International Faculty Development Seminar (IFLS) in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. CIEE is a non-profit service provider for faculty-led study abroad programs. The program is designed to train faculty participants to lead study abroad programs for their respective home institutions.

From the beginning, it was clear CIEE’s staff members were students of the local environment: they held a deep knowledge of Dominican culture, history and its important geographical landmarks. The entire staff was dynamo, which made the experience both informative and outright fun.

I had previously visited Santo Domingo as a tourist and did the “touristy” thing – museums, historical landmarks and its world-famous beaches. However, CIEE allowed me to experience Santo Domingo through an entirely new perspective: with them, I was a student of culture exploring the vitality of the Dominican people.

In the afternoons, IFLS’s participants would debrief, discussing emotional reactions to specific site visits and the methods/logistics necessary to organize similar experiences for students. CIEE is to study abroad programs, what a chisel is to a sculptor: it helps transform an idea into reality, but you have to do the work.  I am many years removed from my undergraduate education, yet CIEE’s program allowed me to feel the beauty of being a student once more while intellectually engaging me as an academic. It was the best of both worlds.

I am excited to develop a faculty-led, study abroad course at Fresno State. I am currently working on the theme of the course and deciding what nation to visit with students. I learned from my experiences at CIEE and CMSI that one can commit to projects that retain personal importance while remaining vigilant of one’s time. Yes, it is only one small class, but I take comfort in knowing that it contributes to the larger efforts by CMSI and CIEE to change the face of study abroad programs across the United States.

~ By William Arce, Professor with the Department of English, at California State University, Fresno

Andrew Fiala: Presidential debate reminds us we need less spite, more pity

fialaOct. 7, 2016

In his most recent column for The Fresno Bee, Philosophy Department Chairman Andrew Fiala, writes that we are all responsible for the growing incivility in society.

The [first presidential] debate drew a huge TV audience. Some people probably tuned in for the same reason they occasionally watch auto racing. We like to watch people get smashed up. Hypocrisy is fascinating. Buffoonery is entertaining. Offensive remarks give us something to preach about.

Fresno State’s Ethics Center has joined the National Institute for Civil Discourse‘s call to revive civility in the Presidential Debates. The Ethics Center joins over 70 other organizations including the AARP, Institute for Civil Civic Engagement and The United States Association of Former Members of Congress supporting the NCID’s call for standards of conduct for all candidates for public office, moderators and for the audience. The call is meant to revive the spirit of civility in all debates.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse’s National Civility Network was launched on college campuses in spring of 2015. The network is comprised of institutes and centers committed to a more robust democracy through programs both on campus and in the broader society.

You can read Fiala’s column about civility here in its entirety:

Music Notes: Thomas Hiebert performs ‘The Horn in Chamber Music’ faculty recital

tomhiebertOct. 5, 2016

“The Horn in Chamber Music” faculty recital will feature hornist Thomas Hiebert at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Fresno State Concert Hall.

Hiebert has been teaching horn at Fresno state for almost 30 years, since 1987.

Accompanying Hiebert are:  Lenore Voth Hiebert (Fresno State faculty) on piano; Rachel Aldrich (Fresno State faculty) on the oboe; Elisha Wilson (horn professor at CSU Stanislaus) on horn; and local public school music teacher and musician Chris Golden on horn.
Here is what Hiebert had to say about the program that he and his colleagues will present:
The first work on the program, Mozart’s three-movement “Horn Quintet,” is virtually a horn concerto – originally for horn and string quartet, but in this version it employs the oboe and piano in their stead very effectively. Though this piece has not been performed often in this arrangement, the combination of oboe, horn and piano has been much used in the literature, and this blend works particularly well for this piece.
The second work on the program, “En Foret,” is a Paris Conservatoire competition piece, and as such it is technical showpiece for the horn, employing special effects such as “hand-stopping,” muting and trills, as well as “exotic” melodies, including a Gregorian Chant and a hunt call.

The third set of works are four Mendelssohn songs I have arranged that work particularly well for horn and piano.  Each is a little “character piece” gem – “Neue Liebe” (New Love), “Jagdlied” (Hunt Song), “Der Mond” (The Moon), and “Pagenlied” (Page Song).

Finally, returning to Mozart, are three pieces for a trio of horns with piano that are arranged Mozart opera numbers from “Cosi fan tutti,” “Don Giovanni” and “The Magic Flute.”  The three hornists here represent three singers’ solo parts and therefore they function equally, each hornist having their own performing range and turn in the spotlight.

Tickets for Friday’s concert are $10 general, $8 for employees, seniors and students. They are available at: For further information, contact the Department of Music at 559.278. 2654.

ART NOTES: Joan Sharma shows her work in the Spectrum Gallery’s annual exhibition

camel_decoration_pushkar_camel_fairOct. 3, 2016

A photo taken by Fresno State art Professor Joan K. Sharma (pictured above) during her 2015 sabbatical trip to India and Bhutan will be part of Spectrum Gallery‘s annual exhibition and benefit.

joan_sharma_photo1“Camel Decoration, Pushkar Fair” will be shown along with a fantastic variety of photographic art by more than 50 photographers. The opening reception is during ArtHop, from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Spectrum Gallery, 608 E Olive Ave. in Fresno’s Tower District.

Here is what Sharma has to say about the photo:

“Camel Decoration, Pushkar Fair” appears to be an abstraction yet documents a creative decoration on the side of a Camel at the annual Pushkar Fair. The hair is shaved and henna paste applied to create geometric patterns.

My recent exhibition at the Spectrum Gallery in June juxtaposed images from diverse regions and cultures within India including Kolkata, Bengal State during Durga Puja, Agra during Diwali, the festival of lights, Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan, Kathakali Dance Centers in Kochi and the backwaters of Kerala by houseboat. In addition, I had the opportunity to travel to Bhutan for the first time and visit many Buddhist monasteries and festivals. More images from Bhutan and India may be viewed on my website.

Through the medium of photography, I work to express my response and deep appreciation for these diverse, resonant cultures. It is also a way to record the rapid and striking changes on a variety of levels that I continue to observe. A life-long fascination and deep respect for south Asian history, culture and philosophies inspired me to travel to India for the first time in 1989. I co-directed two study-tours to India in 2006-07 and 2010-11.

I am a painter and photographer. In 2005, as part of a community service project, I worked with Village of Hope residents to paint a 72- foot mural across from the Village of Hope community at the Poverello House. The mural expressed their ideas about the history as well as appreciation for the work of Poverello House.

My work has been widely exhibited and is in private and public collections. “Hindu Priest, Madhubani” was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2016 IPA – International Photography awards, (Family of Man).


ART NOTES: Una Mjurka shows her newest work ‘In Absentia’ at Corridor 2122

Sept. 28, 2016

Una Mjurka, an associate professor of art and ceramics at Fresno State, will show her most recent work at the Corridor 2122 gallery (2122 Mono St.) in downtown Fresno. Her exhibition of sculptural ceramics titled “In Absentia” will open during the Oct. 6 ArtHop (reception from 5-8 p.m.) and remain on display through Oct. 23.

Mjurka is the 2015-16 recipient of the Provost’s Award in Faculty Service. She will present a lecture on “Ceramics and Community: Building Connections Through Art” as part of the Provost Award Lecture Series at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12, in Room 2206 of the Henry Madden Library.

mjurka-portraitHere is what Mjurka has to say about her body of work on display at Corricor 2122:

The initial ideas for my most recent exhibit were conceived during sabbatical travels to my birth country of Latvia. During this time I conducted research that directly or indirectly informed the underlying theme of this installation. The resulting artwork was also influenced by the psychological aspects experienced through the course of my migration to the U.S.

Furthermore, the work touches upon the effects of globalization on individuals and nations alike. It reflects the inevitable transformations observed within the environment, landscape, traditions, material culture, and demography affecting everyone on a very personal level as well as in a broader context.

I am one of an estimated 500,000 former residents of Latvia who have left the country within the last 20 years, since regaining of the independence from the U.S.S.R. The 2011 Latvian census found less than 2 million people currently living in the country.

At present, it is estimated that 30,000 residents of Latvia depart the country annually. This exodus is driven by various factors, including the search for financial security, professional fulfillment, and pursuit of educational opportunities. Periodic informal polls conducted by the Latvian media have reflected that those individuals who have resided outside of Latvia for longer than two years are highly unlikely to ever return to the country permanently. Unintentionally, I have become a statistic.

As an immigrant, I have experienced the effects, both positive and negative, of globalization on a very personal level. While relocation to the U.S. has rewarded me with invaluable professional opportunities, my national identity has been compromised through the deficit of immediate cultural community.

My sentiments are not all that unique. Throughout history the processes of cultural assimilation of immigrant groups can be observed over and over again. However, while large nations have an ability to preserve their cultural heritage through their strength in numbers within their diaspora, the smaller ones face an inevitable cultural extinction.


MUSIC NOTES: Anthony Radford reviews the San Francisco Opera’s world premiere of ‘Dream of The Red Chamber’

Sept. 12, 2016

Anthony P. Radford, director of the Fresno State Opera Theatre, has been exploring American opera in its many forms. This month he saw and reviewed the Chinese-American production “Dream of the Red Chamber,” which had its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera on Sept. 10. The review is published on the National Opera Association website.

“Tim Yip’s production here deserves first mention,” Radford wrote. “The set is exquisite, stunning and other-worldly. It is a feast for the eyes, almost in constant motion, detailed and always impeccable.”

Read the full review here.

Paintings by Stephanie Bradshaw called “Emergence: Eukarya and Protist” (2016) – large oil on wood panels.

 ART NOTES: ‘Stephanie Bradshaw: New Work’

Stephanie Bradshaw HeadshotSept. 1, 2016

Stephanie Bradshaw, costume shop supervisor for University Theatre, will show her art work at the Voice Shop. “Stephanie Bradshaw: New Work” can be seen at the Sept. 1 ArtHop and through the month of September. Bradshaw won the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Thesis.

Here’s what Bradshaw has to say about her exhibit:

The bulk of the artworks I’ll be showing are new work I made this summer, large oil paintings on wood panel, as well as small framed works on paper. One of the paintings I am exhibiting in the show, “Balance; Meting Obsession,” was selected for the College of Arts and Humanities Deans’ notecards!

Last February, the Department of Art and Design gave me the opportunity to have a solo exhibition, “Sustenance in Color: Life Abstracted,” at the M Street Graduate Art Studio Gallery. The new work I’m showing has a lot in common with the previous body of work, but its themes are slightly different.

I explore the idea of emergence, as well as beauty in the mundane, creating lines and shapes by mediating and abstracting images generated through my photographs of every-day objects. I’m calling it “New Work” because I am still determining an overarching theme for the show. Its like an LP record album before all of its songs have been completed.

I have been an artist and designer all my life. In 2001 I completed my BA in Theatre Arts here at Fresno State with an emphasis in Costume Design. Although my MA, completed last December, is in Art History, I began painting three years ago in Nick Potter’s graduate painting studio to balance all the theoretical reading I was doing. I am very proud to have had my thesis selected as the outstanding CAH thesis this year!

Thomas Loewenheim Conducting 1 copy
Dr. Thomas Loewenheim says music can help us achieve world peace.

Striving for world peace, one note at a time

Aug. 31, 2016

What does he want? “World peace.”

How do we get there? “Music.”

“People ask me why I work so hard all the time, why I dedicate so much time and energy into teaching and conducting, my answer has always been world peace,” said Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, professor of music at Fresno State. “When my students hear me say that for the first time, they all laugh. But by now, after many years in which they’ve witnessed the power that music has to bring people together, they became more convinced that I’m quite serious about it.”

That is transformative.

Dr. Loewenheim, winner of this year’s Provost’s Award  for Excellence in Teaching, will discuss that transformative power of music in his lecture at 3:30 on Thursday, Sept. 1, in the Henry Madden Library.

“Dr. Loewenheim is a unifying tour-de-force who is enriching our community with the transformative power of music,” said Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.  “With his dedication and magnetic personality, Dr. Loewenheim inspires his students to reach unprecedented levels of excellence.  Our University and Valley are fortunate to have such an approachable, talented, and consummate professional among us.”

From left, President Joseph I. Castro, Thomas Loewenheim and Provost Lynnette Zelezny.

The Provost’s Awards Lecture Series honors and showcases the recipients of the Provost’s Awards (2015-2016) and provides them an opportunity to present, share and discuss their work with the campus.

“Dr. Lowewenheim is a teacher, mentor and innovator who inspires and challenges his students to exciting levels of achievement,” Provost Lynnette Zelezny said when she bestowed the award on him. “He has brought important national and international recognition to Fresno State, creating unparalleled educational opportunities for students. Described as a modern Renaissance man, he is a unique musician who has toured internationally and whose work is broadcast worldwide. … He truly represents the best of the faculty and what we as an engaged university offer.”

The lecture series aims to raise the level of academic and intellectual discourse among colleagues, and to enrich connections with others across the campus.

“It is a huge honor to be recognized for the hard work one does and for the vision that makes one great,” Loewenheim said.  “On some level it has still not sunken in… That said, I am extremely happy about this award, as it is a symbol for the excellence that is being practiced daily throughout the university, the College of Arts and Humanities and the Department of Music.

“None of the work I am able to do here at Fresno State would not be possible without the support from the president and the provost, as well as the continuous encouragement of our dean and associate dean.  My colleagues at the Department of Music, who gave me the unique opportunity to come to Fresno and build and conduct the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra, have been a continuous inspiration.”

Lectures, which take place on the second floor of the Henry Madden Library in Room 2206 (south wing), last about 45 minutes with 15 minutes for questions from the audience. The Provost’s Awards Lecture Series is open to the public.

This lecture comes with the bonus of a musical performance. After Dr. Loewenheim’s talk, members of his cello studio will join him in performing a number of short pieces for cello ensemble.

“Many believe music is the highest form of expression – an international language that has the ability to break many barriers, and thus has the ability to bring people together” Loewenheim said. “I witness this on a daily basis, and making music has become something I cannot live without.”

~ By Lisa Maria Boyles


Faculty artwork on display at M Street Graduate Studios

Aug. 26, 2016

The Fresno State Art and Design Department presents “Faculty Works,” an exhibition of artwork from their faculty and staff. For the first time, this event will be held in the gallery at the M Street Graduate Studios in downtown Fresno.

This exhibition showcases the diversity and talents of these established artists, many of whom have exhibited extensively in Fresno including other prestigious galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Students, colleagues and visitors will have the opportunity to observe a collection of professionally produced work that is representative of the department’s longtime developed and seasoned art programs.

“Faculty Works” will be on view from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1, during ArtHop and again from noon-4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, during Second Saturday.

Composition by Fresno State music professor receives international debut

Benjamin Boone Head ShotAug. 23, 2016

A musical composition written by Fresno State Music Professor Dr. Benjamin Boone will receive its international debut this Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Germany’s Verdi String Quartet , one of Germany’s leading chamber music ensembles, commissioned the piece, entitled “SLAM!,” to be premiered at the opening concert of a major music, Fetival Vielstag, in Fussen, Germany.

“I was actually frightened when I received this commission,” Boone said. “It had been a while since I tackled the genre of the string quartet. This genre is full of great pieces by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, etc., and so the repertoire is full of traditional big works. How could I compose something to compete with that? So I didn’t! I wrote jazz-influenced music that drives the entire piece. I think that is what they like about the piece – that it is atypical for this genre.”

This video focuses on the Verdi Quartet’s residency here earlier this year.


Fresno Arts Council to honor Dr. Fleming posthumously Aug. 25

Paulette-FlemingAug. 22, 2016

Dr. Paulette Fleming, a Fresno State educator who died unexpectedly last October, is still being honored for her bold work in the community.

The Fresno Arts Council has named the late Dr. Paulette Fleming the 2016 recipient of the Ella Odorfer Educator Award for the 31st annual Horizon Awards

“Paulette had a unique combination of boldness and humility,” said her good friend and colleague Dr. Francine Oputa, director of Fresno State’s Cross Cultural and Gender Center. “She was bold in the face of injustice and humble about the tireless work she did to make this world a better place.”

The awards will be presented from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Fresno Art Museum (2233 N. First St.). The award honors an arts educator in recognition of contributions made in the classroom and the community.

“Dr. Fleming continues to be a source of pride and inspiration to us all,” said Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “Her life and work embodies the transformational power of art – artistic expression provides us with the unique opportunity to affirm concepts and emotions that deepen our perspective and enrich our world. Dr. Fleming touched us all with her sense of community and social justice.”

Fleming, who died in October, began her Fresno State career in 1988 and became a nationally recognized professor in the Art and Design Department (College of Arts and Humanities).

She devoted much of her time and energy reaching out to children in the community, and was also co-founder and executive director of the Partners-in-Art Program (Fresno State art Professor William Raines is the other co-founder).

Fleming’s daughter, Jamillah Finley, said passion for service is what drove her mother.

“She was very service oriented, especially for people who were underprivileged. She really had a heart for underprivileged children, children who maybe wouldn’t have the opportunities or exposure to the arts.”

Dr. Oputa shared a favorite memory of hers.

“She had broken her ankle. A set of beautiful twin boys who lived in a subsidized apartment complex where she volunteered her time to teach art were fighting with each other to push her around in her wheelchair. She convinced them to take turns pushing her around, which they were oh-so-proud to do. Suddenly they were pushing her really, really fast and Paulette’s eyes widened. At that point I said, ‘Boys, be careful. Dr. Fleming is not a toy!’ She began laughing with sheer delight. A few days later we were together and she told me every time she thought about ‘Dr. Fleming is not a toy.’ She would laugh out loud and it would brighten her day.”

Dr. Fleming’s unexpected death came just a few weeks later. Finley said she and her sons and daughter – Fleming’s grandchildren, ages 17, 16 and 9 – all miss their grandma very much. “She was a wonderful grandmother, very present with them, a very big part of their lives.”

Additional information can be found here: Horizon Awards.

~ By Lisa Maria Boyles


Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian to speak on “The Armenian Diaspora: Lebanon”

Aug. 22, 2016

Armenian Studies Program Director Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian will give a presentation on “The Armenian Diaspora: Lebanon” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, Room 191, on the Fresno State campus.

The presentation will be the first in the Fall Lecture Series of the Armenian Studies Program, with financial support from the Leon S. Peters Foundation.

Prof. Der Mugrdechian will discuss the significance of the Armenian community in Lebanon, one of the most important Diasporan centers. The Armenians have maintained a vibrant communal life in the midst of the general political instability of the Middle East.

Der Mugrdechian’s talk will focus on the current community and the challenges that it faces, while emphasizing the continued vitality of the Armenians in Lebanon. Der Mugrdechian was invited by the Tekeyan Cultural Association to Beirut in the summer of 2016 to give a talk. While in Lebanon he visited some of the major Armenian institutions in the country.

Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian is Director of the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State and teaches courses in Armenian language, art, literature, and history. He is the President of the Society for Armenian Studies and is the editor of the Armenian Series of The Press at California State University, Fresno.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Free parking is available at Fresno State Lots P5 and P6, near the University Business Center. Parking permits are not necessary for Friday night lectures.

For more information about the lecture please contact the Armenian Studies Program at 278-2669, or visit our website at

~ By Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Coordinator

UPDATE: Timing is everything in trip to London

July 15, 2016

UPDATE: In a July 13 column he wrote for The Fresno Bee, Dr. Bradley Hart, a professor in the Mass Communication and Journalism Department, expanded upon his views on the United Kingdom’s recent “Brexit” vote. You can read Hart’s Fresno Bee column here:

Fresno State students learn lessons from Brexit


Here is our original article, from June 30: It is an amazing opportunity for students when “field trips” coincide with history in the making.

Dr. Bradley Hart, a professor in the Mass Communication and Journalism Department, directed this summer’s Study Abroad in London program, just ahead of the United Kingdom’s historic referendum on June 24 on whether or not to retain membership in the European Union.

The results of that vote – to leave – caught many off guard.

The Study Abroad in London program is a three-week course that exposes Fresno State students to British culture, politics and society. It includes field trips around London and surrounding areas, along with classroom instruction and coursework. It has been running in some incarnation for about 30 years.

This summer’s group of 14 students and Hart were there to study Britain’s changing role in the world (areas of study can vary, depending on who is leading the group). Classroom lectures were an overview of British history, with special reference to the sites the group would visit, combined with cultural aspects of British identity – art, theater, etc.

Paul Schlesinger, 25, took part in the trip. This was the first trip to the United Kingdom for Schlesinger, who is specializing in multimedia with the MCJ Department. He knew about the impassioned campaigns on both sides of the issue and he understood the implications of a vote to leave the European Union.

While in London, the Fresno State students had an opportunity to hear from guest lecturer Dr. Richard Carr, of the Anglia Ruskin University.

“Dr. Carr talked about the possible political implications of Brexit,” Schlesinger said, “and also talked about what could possibly happen to Northern Ireland and Scotland – both countries that strongly support staying in the EU.”

IMG_7537We caught up with Hart, who is still in the United Kingdom, working on research for his next book. Why should we, in the Fresno community and the broader U.S., care about this vote? What does it mean for us?

Hart: “This vote has already had a major impact on the broader world economy, namely through eroding the value of the pound and driving down stock markets worldwide, which affects everyone to some extent.”

“It also has particular impact in the Central Valley because of the agricultural sector. Britain and Europe are major importers of agricultural products from the Valley. A weakening pound could easily erode the buying power of British consumers and therefore lead to a decline in the quantity of products being purchased here, meaning that the companies producing those products will also be hurt. … The consequences of this vote could have a very real economic impact in the Central Valley.”

Hart said it’s too soon to know if this vote will result in a break-up of the EU.

“If Britain does exit [the European Union], it would almost certainly mean that other countries will try to do so as well, but that’s a long way off,” Hart said. “The referendum is only the first step. The decision now has to be ratified by Parliament, which is in political disarray now.”

“This will play out over the next several years at a minimum, so there could be all sorts of unexpected twists and turns along the way. The economic impact will be felt much more quickly.”

Hart offered some thoughts on how he has seen those around him react since the June 24 vote:

“I have observed that many people here are deeply concerned about the effects this vote might have on the British economy and on world economic conditions generally. Some who voted to leave appear to now regret that, thinking that their vote was a protest against the political establishment rather than anything binding, or they assumed that the Remain vote would win at the end of the day and that their vote would not count.

“Young people seem particularly concerned because this may well affect their ability to live and work in Europe, which many had taken for granted. The moral of the story, perhaps, is the old adage that every vote does count!”

Schlesinger said that after experiencing relics of the history of civilization at the British Museum, enjoying theater productions in London’s West End and tasting the culture through traditional meat pies and British Indian food, he has fallen in love with London.

And being there just prior to such a critical moment in the nation’s current history, Schlesinger now feels a personal tie to this nation across the Atlantic. He even sees a connection to events occurring here, in this presidential year.

“We saw a rise in populist feelings over the Brexit vote, which has been happening all over the world and the U.S.” he said. “These feelings have been more nationalist and anti-globalization as citizens have been feeling short-changed over the policies of the last 20-plus years. This vote could have a big impact on who gets into the White House this year.”

~ By Lisa Maria Boyles,


The Central Valley Ledger: Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian

July 12, 2016

On the most recent edition of The Central Valley Ledger, host Sevag Tateosian talked to Fresno State‘s Armenian Studies Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian about his trip to Lebanon and Turkey and the Pope’s visit to #‎Armenia‬. Listen to the conversation here.

Der Mugrdechian has taught courses in Armenian language, history, literature, culture, art, church and a variety of other topics on Armenia and the Armenians at Fresno State for the past 31 years. Fresno State offers a minor in Armenian Studies.



July 6, 2016

Two Fresno State Art and Design faculty members are making news with their artwork – Stephanie J. Ryan and Nick Potter.

Stephanie J. Ryan‘s powerful drawing, “The War,” (shown above) was included in “Chaos,” a national juried exhibition for Arc Gallery in San Francisco.

Ryan had this to say about her inspiration for the piece:

This drawing is about the stories my mother would tell me about her experience being imprisoned in Siberia in a forced labor camp as a child during WWII (under Stalin) and eventually escaping. “The War” is an interpretation of these stories from the viewpoint of a child, hearing these stories. They are interwoven with fairy tale imagery, memory, and so on. With all the wars going on today, I think of all the pain and suffering that the survivors and their families will spend generations recovering from.

Drowned World NAP
Nick Potter’s exhibit at Corridor 2122 was named one of “5 Shows to See” in the July 7 ArtHop by Fresno Bee arts writer Donald Munro:

Potter’s describes “1000 Utopias” as a series of paintings and comment on “the often disturbing utopian fantasies that many governments, cultures, and ideologies have sought to realize and impose upon each other.”

One of Potter’s paintings from the show – “The Drowned World” – is featured above. The show, which continues through July 24, is the second solo show of Potter’s at the gallery, which is located at 2122 Mono St. Details:

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