Adjunct music professor Dennis Sullivan, also half of the duo Radical 2, uses his experiences to educate composition students.
When adjunct music professor Dennis Sullivan appears onstage at the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center on March 5, he’ll have alongside his laptop and percussion rig a set of eight electric toothbrushes.
The toothbrush octet will be just one of the unusual compositions premiered that night by Sullivan and Levy Lorenzo, who perform together under the name Radical 2. It’s the sort of thing more often seen in the Brooklyn venues where Radical 2 usually plays than on the Westermann stage. But according to Music Department Chair Sidney M. Boquiren, Ph.D., the concert—a part of the annual New Music series – is an important of the education offered to Adelphi composition students, even if it’s a bit under the radar.
The series began 11 years ago to spotlight faculty composers, Boquiren said, but “as our composition program grew, we realized this was a perfect opportunity for our students to work with professional musicians who do contemporary work.”
Inviting Sullivan and Levy Lorenzo—his partner in the duo—continues that tradition while relieving the busy faculty of having to commit to a rehearsal schedule. Radical 2 comes with its repertoire ready-made and will be spending the afternoon of March 5 workshopping with composition students.
Sullivan is “such a wonderful resource for our students,” Boquiren said. “Students love him and they grow. They graduate better musicians.
“What’s unique about Radical 2 is they’re not your typical percussion ensemble,” he added. “They’re very much interested in the theatricality of performance. They do works that feature not only their technical skills but their panache.”
While acknowledging that the New Music concerts don’t entice the sort of audience that most PAC events attract, Boquiren said that they are still an important part of the music department’s annual programming.
“Really we’re nurturing the value of mentoring young composers,” he said. “It’s easy to focus on the student side of it but there’s value, I like to think, for the ensemble as well.
“It’s a constant struggle but we persevere,” he added. “Three of our four full-time faculty are composers so it’s a natural fit. We believe in providing the opportunity to explore new voices and we accept the fact that the audiences tend to be smaller.”
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