Music, Theatre & Dance



Gabriel Rodenborn

by Gabriel Rodenborn

Music, Theatre & Dance

MM Flute Performance


Monday, Mar. 9, 2015

Blue Vishuddha on the Red Violin

Dr. Sara Carina Graef, professor in the Music, Theatre, and Dance department of CSULA was recently commissioned to write a piece for an exceptional instrument. The Mendelssohn Red, as it's nicknamed, is a Stradivarius violin that was once owned by the Mendelssohn family. It had previously been lost to history before surfacing at Christie's Auction house in the '90s. It was then owned in secret by the Pitcairn family--specifically, Elizabeth Pitcairn, who received it as a gift from her grandfather. The legend of this instrument may sound familiar if you've seen the movie The Red Violin. This is indeed the subject of that film (which imagines a history for the instrument since so little is known for certain). 

The piece, Blue Vishuddha, explores a number of symbolic ideas related to the throat chakra (Vishuddha). It plays on the word 'blue' which is the color symbolically associated with this chakra, but musically, a 'blue note' is when a minor interval is present instead of an expected major one. Dr. Graef explored this concept in the piece as well as a host of other symbols related to the chakra (commonly associated with communication and singing). The piece was premiéred at Bard College's Fisher Center--the stunning Frank Gehry designed hall that echoes the aesthetic of our own Walt Disney Concert Hall--to a sold-out audience of 800.

Bard College Fisher Center Building Exterior  Elizabeth Pitcairn with the Mendelssohn Red

Monday, Mar. 9, 2015

GoodDay (Cal State) LA

Several of the MTD  department’s own undergraduate students were just recently featured on GoodDayLA in a segment called “Weekend Roundup.” Though the band, Wise Guys Big Band Machine, features a large group of rotating members, no less than 5 of the members on the GoodDayLA appearance are involved in our department at CSULA. Joshua Escutia, who was kind enough to meet with me about this performance, plays lead tenor sax in the group and is a music minor. Ismael Quinones (tenor sax), Richard Velzen (lead trombone), Francisco Lopez (trombone) and Jorge Garcia (trumpet) are music majors. The group was started as a Christmas band by city councilman Art Barajas, his brother Frank, and their friend Robert. It eventually  became the swing band it is today as members changed out over time. They are currently celebrating their 25th anniversary and are releasing a CD for their fans with the possibility of a small tour. Check them out at for upcoming performances!

Students Playing on GoodDayLA  Students Playing on GoodDayLA

Monday, Mar. 9, 2015

A CSULA Grammy Nominee

CSULA’s own Dr. James Ford, along with his bandmates, was recently nominated for a Grammy award. The band, The Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, was nominated in the category for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for the album The L.A. Treasures Project, released by Capri Records, Ltd.  The album seeks to feature undiscovered L.A. area artists such as Barbara Morrison and Ernie Andrews. 

The band was founded in 1985 by Jeff Hamilton, Jeff Clayton, and John Clayton (8 time Grammy award nominee). Dr. Ford has expressed great humility at being afforded the opportunity to work under their leadership and learn from them “as a family.” Upcoming events include the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival.

More information at

Band Leaders John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, and Jeff Clayton  L.A. Treasure Project Album Cover