Aaaaaaaaand we're back!

Our apologies for the extended hiatus.

But never fear, your favorite modern music ensemble has returned to the blogging world.

Now that we're back, you should probably know about a few exciting things we have coming up this weekend for Modfest - Saturday is a big day for us!

January 28, 2012
11:00am - Skinner Recital Hall

Come hear a performance and master class with composer Evan James '07 as he workshops his piece, "You're Unreal", which was commissioned by the Mahagonny Ensemble and premiered in December. Movement titles include:

1. Late, vivid dreaming
2. Daydaydaydayday
3. Somewhere, with people
4. Cop Drama
5. Drinking Alone

 Yeah. Pretty cool.
After the master class, there will be lunch and a chance to speak with the composer himself. To make a lunch reservation, e-mail

8:00pm - Skinner Recital Hall
Modfest Orchestral and Chamber Ensembles Concert
The Mahagonny Orchestra, directed by William Healy '12, performs "You're Unreal" by Evan James '07, a piece that traffics in the emotions of a comfortable daily routine. 

Naomi Dubin '12 conducts the Mahagonny Choir in Arvo Pärt's "Summa," written originally for four-part choir in 1977 and rewritten for a string chamber orchestra in 1991. The Mahagonny Choir performs a combination of the two, bringing a medieval-inspired piece even further into modernity. 

Music faculty member Eduardo Navega, director of the Chamber Music Program, conducts the Vassar College Orchestra in Almeida Prado's "Amen" and Gerald Finzi's "The Fall of the Leaf."

It will be the Modfest event of the year. Seriously. Don't miss out!

Final Mahagonny Concert of the Year!

The premiers of the compositions by Sanger Clark '11, Ryan Layman '12, Jesse Greenberg '13 and Alex Goldberg '11 will be performed as well as pieces by Chatman, Genzmer, Piazzolla and Thompson.

7 PM
Skinner Recital Hall
Wednesday May 4th, 2011

Knock on Wood: Vassar Student Composers in Concert

Hey everyone!  Just advertising an upcoming event for Mahagonny: a special little concert featuring student composers!

The Mahagonny Ensemble present Knock on Wood: Vassar Student Composers in Concert

Come hear new compositions by:

Chris Connors '12
Alex Goldberg '11
William Healy '12
Luke Leavitt '12
Cooper Troxell '11
Crystal Tung '11
Nina Vyedin '11

College Center MPR (Vassar College)- 4 PM

All pieces will be performed by members of the ensemble and the composers themselves.

There will be food! And music!  Come support your musical friends!

And here's a link to the FB event:

Fall Concert December 12th

Remember that our first concert of this school year is THIS SUNDAY!  December 12th at 3 PM in Skinner Hall.  Hear pieces performed by the choir and orchestra.  Daryl Duran on flute will be a featured soloist.  Tell your friends and we hope to see you there!

Spring Awakening

No, not the musical.  In our first ever student composition piece for our choir, Caitlin Newby '13 has written a poem "Spring Awakening" to be performed by the choir.  Sanger Clark '11 has written the music to go with the words:

Creamy daffodil light
came streaming through the windows,
memory turning the eyelet curtain
to a wisp of milky foam
on the winter whiskers
of the leafless jacaranda
outside my window.
That day you scooped me up
in a gust of cold, luminous air,
cupping me in your palms.
I was a soft, leggy girl
with apricot cheeks
and blonde locks of raw silk—
so sweet, so timid, so untried.
You were Adonis—
a figure in strawberry curls,
an alluring caramel grin,
a baby face to match my own.

When asked about the story behind this poem, Caitlin says, "The poem is the first in a series of poems I wrote for my memoir project senior year.  I focused on different types of love that I've experienced, from familial to romantic, requited to frustrated.  This poem is about my first "boyfriend" (if you can call him that) during sixth and seventh grade.  I remember looking out of my bedroom window to the jacaranda tree outside when he asked me out over the phone; I took this memory and our youth and wrote this poem about my "awakening" to romantic love."  This piece will be performed in our spring concert along side the other student composition projects.

Composer Profile: Ryan Layman '12

As mentioned before, the ensemble will be featuring student composers in the spring concert.  In anticipation for this awesome concert, I'll be posting some quick profiles on the composers.  The first in this series, Ryan Layman '12 talks about the story behind his piece, his background in composition and how his love of music.

"As for now, the composition remains untitled. The reason? I haven’t thought of a way to briefly sum up my piece without sounding too corny. Essentially, the piece is going to be programmatic, and will reflect the process of falling in and being in love. The work will open with a solo treble instrument (most likely an oboe) singing a lonely melody. This melody will then be answered by a bass instrument (most likely a cello). The two will then continue exchanging material until they meet. Some music will follow reflecting the coming together of their themes. The music will then become unstable as the instruments “fight”. After the ensuing chaos, order will be resumed, but disorder will still be heard in the background. This whole story will be underscored by the other instruments. 

My inspiration for writing is my love for music. I find that music can speak to people better than words, and so I enjoy expressing myself through music. Furthermore, I love puzzles, and in a way composing is like a puzzle. My musical influence is most strongly Stravinsky. Before this year, I barely even knew who he was, but in the short time I have spent listening to him, I have fallen in love with his textures and musical language. My composition background is quite brief. At the start of my senior year of high school, I had no idea how to read even bass clef. That year was my first theory class, and I loved it. Since coming to Vassar, everything I have studied has been new to me, allowing me to take something from every class and incorporate it into my style. So what should be expected out of my piece? One can expect elements of new and old schools of thinking, joined by contrasting textures and aesthetics."

Knock on Wood: An Afternoon with Mahagonny


Most frequently asked question: How do you pronounce your group's name?  Or: Ah, yes, the MaHOgony ensemble.

Um, no.

We are MahaGONny.  But we can take a joke and appreciate the humor that is our silly reference of a name.  And we've been wanting to feature some of our great members in a recital-type performance.  And we want more performance opportunities.  So, putting these all together, we get:

Knock on Wood: An Afternoon with Mahagonny

College Center MPR
Friday December 3rd
5 PM

And we need you!  That's right, you!  If you are currently working on a solo that falls in the modern time period, let us know!  If you're working on some student's composition, let us know!  If you're a student composer, let us know!  We are looking for submissions to play in this recital.  Any interested Vassar student should email  And if you're not interested in performing, you should still come and listen!