In Brief

Music in March

Tufts hosts back-to-back festivals sure to expand artistic and cultural horizons
March 21, 2016


March is a big month for music at Tufts with two festivals at Granoff Music Center, one celebrating the work of Italian avant-garde composer Luigi Nono and the other the vibrant cultural traditions of Ghana.  

The first festival pays homage to a pioneer in the use of live electronics. “Utopian Listening: the Late Electroacoustic Music of Luigi Nono—Technologies, Aesthetics, Histories, Futures” runs from March 23 to 26 and has been hailed by the Boston Globe as one of the top ten classical events of the spring season.

Scholars, sound engineers, composers and musicians will be coming to Tufts “to share ideas and insights on both the practical and the aesthetic challenges of performing Nono's works with live electronics,” says Joseph Auner, professor of music and dean of academic affairs for Arts and Sciences. “His most significant works are performed rarely if at all on this side of the Atlantic.”

The festival will combine roundtables, paper sessions and workshops and will culminate in four all-Nono concerts with performers among the very best in the world: acclaimed contemporary flutist and 2012 MacArthur Fellow Claire Chase; Miranda Cuckson, whose recording of Luigi Nono’s “La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura” for violin and electronics was named a Best Classical Recording of 2012 by the New York Times; and, on clarinet, Evan Ziporyn, inaugural director of MIT’s new Center for Art, Science and Technology. Nono’s wife, Nuria Schoenberg Nono, a daughter of the composer Arnold Schoenberg, will be a guest of honor.

Tufts and Harvard are producing the event with support from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation and the help of faculty and students from other Boston area schools, including Boston University, MIT, Brandeis and Northeastern.  

Tufts then turns a spotlight on Ghana, with the Akan Festival 2016 from March 28 to April 2. The celebration brings together drum-making and drumming workshops, music and dance performances, scholarly panels, and a ceremonial procession for an immersion in the culture of the Akan people of Ghana. 

All activities and concerts are free and open to the public; no tickets required. See the full schedule here.

David Locke, chair of the music department and executive producer of the Akan Festival, says the program spans cultural, pedagogical, artistic and musical elements that define enduring and revered West African traditions. It builds on Tufts’ reputation in ethnomusicology and on the global network of Emmanuel Attah Poku, a prominent master drummer from the Ashanti region of Ghana, who directs the Kiniwe African Music and Dance Ensemble at Tufts and the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, founded by Locke.

Special guests include master drum-maker James Acheampong, who will demonstrate traditional sculpting and drumming techniques. “We are very fortunate to have him come to Tufts,” says Locke. “He has tremendous respect in Ghana, where he is the king’s favorite drummer.”

The events culminate on Saturday, April 2, with a Tufts tribute to a traditional Ghana festival, Durbar Day. Drumming to herald Durbar Day will be presided over by Akan chief Nana Otimpie Aben II and Akan queen Nana Yaa Asantewa II.

“This is a grand community celebration in true West African style,” says Locke. “Our students have easy access to mediated forms of learning—books, audio, videos, lectures—but they don’t get to actually be in the presence of Africans and see an authentic custom enacted close to home. It will be spectacular, a complete visual and musical experience.”

Laura Ferguson can be reached at