By Raeye Daniel
Among the no-man's-land of institutions above 120th Street, the Manhattan School of Music might be the most unsung. The 85-year-old MSM is a private music conservatory, and home to talented musicians and faculty in classical and jazz music. Yet Columbia students are, by and large, unaware of the formal affiliation between the University and the conservatory. As the school is only blocks away from the Columbia campus, it's reasonable to expect some overlap. Local bands, campus bands, and other musical groups affiliated with Columbia often include current or former MSM students who have created musical bonds with Columbia students. The MSM's pre-college program also funnels a decent number of students into the Columbia undergraduate colleges, perhaps because of the proximity. Given these connections—and the fact that the conservatory maintains a cross-registration system with Barnard—one might assume that Columbia College has a joint program with MSM. Surprisingly, it does not. It's easy to think of barriers to a joint program. Negotiating tuition and funding is difficult, and the challenge of accommodating part-time students could place serious stress on both institutions. The Barnard cross-registration program is limited and only allows students to take private lessons with faculty in specialized fields of study. A number of classes—including jazz voice, classical voice, jazz composition, organ, accompanying, and all classical contemporary lessons—are not available to Barnard students. This makes sense—making all MSM lessons accessible to Barnard students would detract from Barnard's own music program, and through association, Columbia's as well. This could be a major factor behind Columbia's hesitation to establish even a basic cross-registration program. The music department here plays a significant role in the community, and anxiety over maintaining its ability to sustain itself and thrive is entirely legitimate. However, this would only be a major problem if the joint program were fundamentally different from the cross-registration already in place. The Barnard-Manhattan School of Music program offers only music lessons. If a Columbia program followed this model, students would have the opportunity to train and further develop their music skills at the Manhattan School of Music and would still participate actively in the Columbia music department, where they would take classes. They would have the chance to hone their abilities at a prestigious music conservatory. No matter how rigorous the music program here may seem, the atmosphere at a conservatory built around the single purpose of teaching the art of music is incomparable. Cross-registration programs are created to address a fundamental truth for student musicians—a university will never be a conservatory, and vice versa. Jeff Picker, a junior in Columbia College, studied in the jazz program and played the double/electric bass at the Manhattan School of Music, but decided to transfer to Columbia after realizing he didn't want as rigorous a relationship with music as he had at the conservatory. "There probably should be [a Columbia cross-registration program], given the proximity and everything—it would make sense, especially since a lot of kids interested in a liberal arts education often give up intensive musical instruction to come to Columbia, and kids interested in a music education must give up a normal course of study to go there," Picker said. Some University students—a majority are part of the Barnard-Columbia-Juilliard joint program—claim that Columbia's music program is "more theory-based, rather than performance-based," which they say explains their desire to branch out from the music department here at the University. Currently, there seems to be little to no room for compromise for musicians who want to maintain both the academic and musical spheres of their undergraduate experience. Juilliard does offer a joint Columbia/Barnard program, and even a five-year accelerated master's degree program, but musicians who desire a less stressful program that still stimulates their musical needs have nowhere to turn. Also, the time it takes to get to Lincoln Center two to four times a week—while lugging an instrument—can seriously add up, and prevent students from fulfilling their primary duties as Columbia undergraduates. Columbia music students are only offered one musical outlet when they could potentially have the opportunity to obtain another, even more convenient one. Benjamin Grossman, a freshman in CC who attended the Manhattan School of Music pre-college program for grades 12 and under, currently works in that same program. When asked whether a joint program would be beneficial for Columbia undergraduates, he expressed enthusiasm. "True, Juilliard overshadows other music schools, but I feel as though the Manhattan School of Music provides an equal atmosphere for musical development and is a hidden jewel in some sense," Grossman said. "Not to mention, the MSM practice rooms are much better than the ones at Juilliard."...
By Raeye Daniel
New York City: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. That seems to be the mentality adopted by Gary Richards, the creator of the Los Angeles-based rave empire, Hardfest. On Saturday, the highly-anticipated second installment of Hard NYC, an electronic music festival, will take place at Terminal 5 (56th Street between 11th and 12th avenues). For many, the concert series represents a major push towards expanding New York's exposure to the genre. Headlining this electronic extravaganza will be Boys Noize, the stage name of electronic music producer and house-bumping DJ Alexander Ridha, who hails from Hamburg, Germany. Also headlining is Hard NYC repeat Major Lazer, the reggae-using, dancehall-booming, DJ/producer duo consisting of Philadelphia native Diplo (aka Thomas Pentz) and London's Switch (aka Dave Taylor). Hardfest, better known as just Hard, was established in 2007 by Richards (DJ Destructo) in Los Angeles. In one year, he transformed a concept into one of the most recognized and profitable rave establishments in the world. By the end of October 2008, the name Hard essentially became synonymous with the term rave and took over the electronic concert scene. California went from having just two Hard-run concerts in 2008, to booking six full-fledged raves for the year 2010. This expansion, however, was not limited to the borders of California. This fall, Richards decided to take his vision one step further by introducing his brainchild to one of the largest music hubs of the world: New York City. When asked about his take on the expansion to New York, Richards said, "L.A. and New York—that's what makes the world go round. It seemed like it was the natural progression. I had no idea what to expect because I didn't really know what would happen in New York. Many people wanted me to do a larger show but I picked Terminal 5, a smaller venue, and made sure we did a good job. The event sold out, and it was great to know that people in New York accepted us so well." The highly anticipated opening of the Hard NYC branch took place in October 2009. How New York would receive the electro-craze wasn't entirely clear, but with headliners Crookers and Major Lazer, success was expected—but nobody knew just how much. Tickets sold out, Terminal 5 was packed, and a sea of hundreds of New Yorkers' bodies pulsated to everything from reggae to dubstep, trip hop to house music. Acceptance was an understatement—Hard NYC was a hit. Attendee Claudia Vargas, SEAS '13, found out about the event through a friend on her floor. "I had never been to a rave before, so I wanted to see what it was like. I was indifferent about electronic music before, so Hard was like an exploratory thing for me, but I definitely enjoyed myself and it certainly opened my views on a genre of music that most people consider an 'acquired taste,'" she said. Anna Zielinska, CC '13, who has had more exposure to the electronic music genre, attended the first Hard NYC and is coming back for more this Saturday. "I've been exposed to electro ever since I attended a summer program in France six years ago," she said. "I'm coming back because it was one of the best events I had been to—the energy, the crowd, the overwhelming beats were amazing." The first concert was so successful that a few weeks later, Hard NYC decided to release this Saturday's show date. A third show, set to take place on Governors Island, was announced for this summer with M.I.A. headlining . "We just did Miami, we're about to do San Francisco, and in August, we're also launching a countrywide tour," Richards said. That's two major release dates in New York, a show in Miami, an addition in San Francisco and a major U.S. tour all in the span of six months. If that's not considered making it, what is?...