The Oberlin Review

Peter Takács

Peter Takács, Professor of Piano

October 21, 2020

The pandemic has been a particularly challenging time for practicing musicians. Professor of Piano Peter Takács is an expert on Beethoven and has performed and recorded his complete 32 Piano Sonatas. He sat down with the Review to talk about being a musician, as well as a teacher, during the pandemic, and how his perspective on music has changed with the circumstances.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity.  Has classical piano gained any new meanings for you during the pandemic? Def...

The Conservatory recently announced new initiatives to increase diversity and equity within the music curriculum, repertoire, and Conservatory community.

Conservatory Announces New Goals to Increase Racial Equity and Belonging

September 18, 2020

Oberlin Conservatory faculty released an action plan last week for increasing the diversity and equity of Oberlin’s music education as part of the Presidential Initiative. Over the past several months, Conservatory faculty and staff have worked with student and alumni leaders to develop the commitments that will begin this semester.  “I want to offer my personal thanks to the student and alumni leaders — in particular members of the Oberlin College Black Musicians Guild — and to the Conservatory fac...

Audience members were encouraged to move between the socially-distanced performers during “Sila: The Breath of the World” last Friday.

Tappan Square Becomes Stage for “Sila: The Breath of the World”

September 16, 2020

Live music is yet another quintessential Oberlin experience complicated by the pandemic. But creativity and social-distancing prevailed last Friday when Oberlin Conservatory students took to the unusual stage of Tappan Square to perform “Sila: The Breath of the World” by John Luther Adams. The experience was comparable to an installation in an art gallery. The musicians were spread across the grass and in between trees, radiating outward from the center of the square. Many audience members...

Action Steps for the Conservatory to Create a Better Community

September 4, 2020

The only way to combat the ever-growing tide of racism and racist policies in this country and world is to broaden our understanding of their insidious nature. To that end, it is also important to construct systems based on a clear understanding of anti-racism. Anything short of a radical dedication to these transformative policies is tantamount to kicking the can down the road for another generation to deal with. We must be thorough, compassionate, and patient in our examination. We must also be unflinchingly clear about our dedication to cultivating not only allies, but accomplices that will stand with us in solidarity as we root out the rot produced by centuries of bigoted and biased policies and attitudes. To that...

What is a Black American Music Department?

Daniel Spearman, OC ’16

September 4, 2020

Editor’s Note: This piece is referenced in the letter-to-the-editor “Action Steps for the Conservatory to Create a Better Community.” Below are some thoughts I’ve had about Black music and its place within the spaces of higher learning. Black musicians (and people) have historically been excluded from being a full part of society in the United States. This has resulted in a situation where there are two (if not more) divergent forms of classical and folk music within the North American continent. As such, it is necessary, in my humble opinion, to create space and devote resources to the study and upliftment of marginalized — specifically Black — voices within the space of conservatories. For too lon...

For the culmination of their summer program, six Oberlin Organ Academy students played across the country in a Virtual Student Concert. The Organ Academy — which typically takes place on campus — was offered remotely this year due to the spread of COVID-19.

Conservatory Hosts a Summer of Remote Programming

August 5, 2020

Oberlin’s Conservatory — which typically offers a range of workshops, camps, and other programming on campus each summer — did not host any students in-person this year due to the spread of COVID-19. While several programs were cancelled altogether, others moved to online to preserve opportunities for learning, community building, and student recruitment. The three programs that moved to an online format were the Organ Academy, the Flute Academy, and the Baroque Performance Institute. Cre...

Conservatory Must Include More Work by Black Composers

J Holzen, OC ’20

June 10, 2020

Editor’s Note: This letter has been signed online by 356 members of the Oberlin community at the time of publication. To the deans and conductors at Oberlin Conservatory: Oberlin College, like many of our peer institutions, has recently issued statements on social media expressing its support for the Black community during this time. However, we request that you put a plan in place as an institution to hold the Conservatory accountable for these issues outside of its social media presence. Oberlin College prides itself on its liberalism and its progressivism, from being the first school to accept women and one of the first schools to accept African-Americans to its reputation for student activism. This in...

Bibbins Hall, which holds the Conservatory's main classrooms, is currently closed to students following Oberlin's transition to a remote campus.

Conservatory Adjusts Curricular Requirements Following Transition to Remote Campus

April 12, 2020

Following Oberlin’s transition to a remote campus in the wake of the ongoing health crisis, the Conservatory has had to adapt their curriculum including private lessons, ensembles, and culminating recitals to an online platform. The Conservatory has adjusted some of their requirements and set flexible guidelines for students in order to accomodate for the variety of departmental and individual circumstances.  This semester, to account for extenuating circumstances due to COVID-19, the deadline...

Amer Hasan.

Amer Hasan, Third-year Conservatory Clarinetist

March 13, 2020

Conservatory third-year Amer Hasan is now the clarinet finalist for the 2020 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition. Hasan’s mentor is Oberlin Professor of Clarinet Richard Hawkins, who received the same award in 1990. Hasan now serves as the principal clarinetist for the Akron Symphony Orchestra, teaches clarinet at the Grafton Center of Musical Arts, and has already performed and taught in multiple countries. On good days, Hasan says, he plays the clarinet like it’s a part of his body...

College Announces New Music Minor

Katherine MacPhail, Editor-in-Chief

March 13, 2020

Oberlin is offering a new minor in Music following recommendations put forth by the One Oberlin report to expand “opportunities for private lessons, classroom study, and performing” for College students. Elizabeth Hamilton, associate dean of the College of the Arts and Sciences and co-chair of Musical Studies, highlighted the opportunity that this program creates for students to expand their studies. “The new minor creates a clearer formal structure than we’ve ever had for Arts and Sciences students to pursue rigorous study of music,” Hamilton wrote in an email to the Review. “It taps into their musical passions and talents and integrates advanced study from conservatory faculty into their overall B.A. d...

The Conservatory is set to launch two new certificate programs in Recording Arts and Production.

Conservatory to Launch New Recording Arts and Production Programs

March 6, 2020

The Conservatory has announced new one-year and two-year certificate programs for postgraduate students in Recording Arts and Production. The program is currently accepting applications for its first semester, which will begin this fall. The program is spearheaded by Director of Audio Services Paul Eachus and Associate Director of Audio Services Andrew Tripp. They explained that the idea originated in the midst of the Academic and Administrative Program Review process. “When AAPR initially started to get ...

Beethoven’s Dead — Can We Move on Now?

Clayton Luckadoo, Contributing Writer

February 28, 2020

 With Beethoven’s 250th birthday coming up, there are innumerable plans to celebrate the prolific composer worldwide. Among other activities, Oberlin Conservatory students will perform the legend’s complete symphonies and string quartets in his honor. While this is a grand undertaking, and the intentions are noble, the result is exclusionary for many. At an institution known for progressive programming and an awareness of exclusionary power structures in the classical music world, this is rather disheartening. I write this not to undermine the impact Beethoven has had on classical music. Thanks to his music and his influence with an avid Beethoven fan in the administration of the Paris Conservatoire, orchestra rehe...

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