OSU Band member Branden Hansen plays New York.

Photos from New York trip
Photos from New York trip

On May 30 the OSU Wind Ensemble and Pep Band traveled to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall and Greeley Square. Below is band member Branden Hansen’s account of his New York experiences.


The moment we stepped off the buses at our 38-story Manhattan hotel, we forgot the sleep we lost on our red-eye flight to New York City. Taxi cabs, skyscrapers, street vendors selling cheap sunglasses and knock-off purses, bustling sidewalks, a brilliant blue sky and an unforgettable urban odor with hints of hot dogs and the day’s garbage filled our senses. This was our home for an exhilarating, all-too-short weekend.

After unloading our luggage into the hotel, we broke into small groups and invaded the Big Apple — if 99 Beavers losing themselves in a city of 8.2 million is an invasion. We only had one full day as tourists, but my friends and I managed to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Times Square. But no tourist activity topped seeing “Chicago” in the fourth row of the 87-year-old Ambassador Theatre. These experiences showed me why people love the city so much. They also prompted me to purchase my own, not-so-unique “I Love NY” shirt.


New York City as the OSU Band saw it. In the background, the Wind Ensemble plays “Gusto El Sabor,” one of the songs they performed at Carnegie Hall.

After resting and a few hours of sightseeing, the members of the OSU Pep Band geared up for their performance at Greeley Square. I threw on my orange and black uniform, grabbed a pair of drumsticks and boarded yet another bus. I still found vehicular sleeping to be virtually impossible.

Heads turned as we unloaded our instruments. Passersby probably thought that this was one of the strangest spring Halloween parties ever. Once the band started pouring out melodies and drum grooves though, people flocked to the square to listen. We had a great time filling this pocket of New York with tunes like “All Right Now,” “Fat Bottom Girls” and of course the OSU Fight Song.

This performance was exciting, but it was only a prelude for what followed.


This was why we had come to New York — our 8:30 p.m. performance at Carnegie Hall. The Wind Ensemble was teeming with anticipation all day. But I had a serious problem: I couldn’t find my music.

With only 30 minutes left before we loaded the buses, I was beyond frantic, thinking, “I am going to die, and then my conductor will kill me.” After the fifth time checking my briefcase I finally found my music…right where I had left it.

The atmosphere in our dressing room was charged. Some practiced difficult measures while others looked at the photos of great performers and ensembles that lined the walls. Finally, we were led to the stage.

Although we had little time to warm up before the concert, I knew we’d spend a few minutes soaking in Carnegie’s aura. Many have seen Carnegie’s ornate, white and gold architecture, but few have seen it from a performer’s perspective.

The lights dimmed and the concert began. Playing at Carnegie, in this incredible city, had put me into a strange musical auto-pilot. I wasn’t thinking about performing. I couldn’t think about performing. The experience was overwhelming.

As we played our final notes I was at last able to take control of my thoughts again and realized that the audience had risen to its feet in applause. As I looked across the stage, I saw my colleagues’ faces streaming with the tears. This was an experience and an event none of us will forget.

John Frohnmayer’s musical SPIN shows what can happen when personalities clash — over art.

spin_p2Put a controversial performance artist, a conservative U.S. Senator, the chair of the National Endowment of the Arts and a preacher named JoeBob into a room together to discuss art and politics, and the resulting personality clashes are sure to generate comedy. That’s what John Frohnmayer had in mind when he wrote SPIN, a musical that depicts the early ‘90s “culture wars” that pitted artists seeking complete freedom of expression against those who demanded stricter rules for federally funded art.

Frohnmayer, an affiliate professor in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts, knows all about the subject matter. SPIN is loosely based on his years as the chair of the NEA and his 1993 book that chronicles that turbulent experience, “Leaving Town Alive: Confessions of an Arts Warrior.”

SPIN made its first run at Oregon State University on May 8, and its debut was the product of collaborations throughout OSU and beyond. Director Marion Rossi Jr. has helmed more than 30 OSU productions as an associate professor of speech communication. Music instructor Sila Cevikce Shaman wrote SPIN’s compositions, and David Ogden Stiers, best known as Major Winchester on the television series M*A*S*H*, joins a cast of student and community actors.

“To see a director like Marion Rossi, a veteran performer like David Ogden Stiers and some wonderful student actors bring SPIN to life and give it their interpretation is incredibly exciting,” says Frohnmayer.

Rossi, who began workshopping the musical with his students in theater classes more than a year ago, says he’s loved witnessing SPIN develop. “It’s a great experience for the students — working on an original production, seeing how it grows, evolves and changes over time,” he says.

For University Honors College senior Maarika Teose, who plays the outrageous and provocative performance artist Polly, that experience has been even more enhanced by Frohnmayer’s continuing input and presence at rehearsal. “This is the first play I’ve done that hasn’t been performed before, so having the playwright there is fantastic. If we have any questions about the script, or if something isn’t working, he can guide us or make changes,” she says.

Teose says that Stiers, who joined the cast about a week after they began rehearsing winter term, is also a resource. “He’s fun. It’s really nice to have someone there who has a lot of real-world acting experience. He can give some really deep advice,” says Teose, who has been involved in OSU theater for the past five years.

Stiers wanted to join SPIN’s cast because he feels strongly in freedom of expression. Likewise, Rossi hopes audiences leave SPIN with a deeper understanding of art’s importance in their lives.

Although Frohnmayer’s primary motivation for writing SPIN was to entertain his audience, he still believes the issues of free speech and politics that electrified the early ‘90s are relevant today and that people — no matter how extreme their viewpoints — ultimately need to communicate with each other. “We need to learn to deal with differences in the context of a community,” he says. “If a community is going to succeed, then we all have to succeed together. Free speech is an enabler, but we have to listen as well.”

You may not know Mike Rich by name, but chances are you’ve seen his work.

Mike Rich wrote the script for "Finding Forrester" and "The Rookie"
Mike Rich wrote the script for "Finding Forrester" and "The Rookie"

Mike Rich was working as a news reporter at a Portland radio station in the mid-1990s when he decided to turn his dream of writing a screenplay into reality.

Setting aside a couple of free hours each day, he wrote “Finding Forrester,” a story that delves into the relationship between an inner-city teen and a reclusive writer.

After unproductive attempts to contact agents, production companies and studios, Rich entered the play in the Nicholl Fellowship competition sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“The first letter I received said congratulations, you’re a quarter-finalist. That was validation. It put me in the top 220 of 4,500 entrants,” he says. “That’s where I thought it would end. Then came a letter saying I was a semi-finalist and then a finalist and finally one of five fellows.”

After that, interest developed quickly. Columbia purchased the script and Sean Connery agreed to play Forrester. At that point, Rich “thought they would just go off and make the movie.” He was wrong. Six rewrites later, it was shot.

Over the past eight years, the OSU College of Business alumnus has followed “Finding Forester” with “The Rookie,” “Radio” and “Miracle,” all successful movies.

“I always start with character. The audience needs to care about the people,” Rich says.

In “Miracle,” the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s historic upset of the Soviet Union, “you want to get the audience to the point where they don’t care that they know how it’s going to end. They want to see how it gets there.”

Look for more from Rich. “Manhunt,” an adaptation of a historical thriller about the search for John Wilkes Booth, is being filmed; “Invincible,” the story of Philadelphia Eagles fan Vince Papale, a bartender who tried out for the team as a kicker and made it, is set for release later this year; and “Nativity,” a story leading up to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, has been purchased by New Line Cinema.

Despite all this activity, Rich keeps his life in perspective. He lives in Beaverton, Ore., with his wife and three children. “My son plays high school football,” he says. “I catch every game I can. When it’s done, it’s done, and you don’t get another chance.”

Finding Forrester

The Rookie


Kenneth Lowe chose singing over blocking to help pay his way through college.

Kenneth Lowe chose music over football
Kenneth Lowe chose music over football

Kenneth Lowe was an all-league football player in high school who came to OSU as a walk-on, but quickly showed he was good enough to earn a scholarship–in music.

Kenneth participated in football and track, as well as music, at Grant High School in Portland. When it was time to choose a college, he opted for music over football selecting OSU and turning down several small college football offers.

“As long as I can remember, I’ve been singing,” says the senior music major, who grew up in a low-income, single-parent family. “I sang in church choirs when I was young, and in the 5th grade I was in the Portland Children’s Opera version of Carmen.”

Even though neither of his parents graduated from college, Kenneth knew it was important for him. “I knew college would give me more opportunities for my life,” he says. “I saw the struggles of a lot of family and friends who didn’t go to college.”

Participating in the OSU choirs has broadened Kenneth’s life experiences. “I’ve been to Europe twice with the choirs, and to Canada and Mexico,” he says. “These are things I’d never have gotten to do otherwise.” Opera is still in his life as well, and he recently participated in a Corvallis production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte.

At OSU, Kenneth works closely with Steven Zielke, director of choral studies, and Richard Poppino, director of vocal studies. He credits them with helping him through the transition to college and keeping him on the track toward graduation.

The importance of music in his life is reflected in how he spends his free time: participating in Outspoken, an a cappella male ensemble organized and led by students. “We do popular songs and have a chance to compete with groups from other colleges. It’s kind of a release–a getaway.”

OSU Department of Music website

Steven Zielke’s web page

Richard Poppino’s web page

Chris Johns, OSU alumnus and editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine, is recipient of the university’s Distinguished Service Award for 2005.

Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic is an OSU Alum
Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic is an OSU Alum

Chris Johns came from a family farm near Central Point, Oregon, to study agriculture at Oregon State University. By the time he graduated in 1975, he was ready to set agriculture aside for a career in photojournalism.

Now, three decades later, Johns returns to OSU Sunday, June 12, to receive the university’s Distinguished Service Award and to speak at the 136th annual OSU commencement.

Two years ago Johns was named one of the 25 most important photographers in the world by American Photo magazine, and that same year he was appointed editor-in-chief of National Geographic.

Johns first became interested in photography though his college roommate, Dennis Dimick, who also is a National Geographic editor. Dimick was taking a photography class and Johns says he thought the idea of having a camera and taking pictures would be “cool.”

He enrolled in a photography class, using his friend’s camera to take photos for his final exam. From that moment on, he says, he was hooked on photojournalism.

After graduating and earning a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, he worked at the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Seattle Times. While in Topeka, he was named National Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1979.

In 1983, he decided to become a free-lance photographer and worked primarily for Life, Time, and National Geographic magazines.

He joined the National Geographic staff in 1995, and since then has photographed more than 20 articles for the magazine, eight of which were cover stories. He also has photographed and written four books.

“I’ve had the privilege of traveling all over the world . . .” Johns told the Oregon Stater alumni magazine last year. “I’ve seen some of the worst human behavior on the face of the earth, and I’ve had violence directed at me. I’ve had some life-altering experiences. I’ve also seen hope come out of some of the darkest situations and it has reinforced in me, time and time again, how important leadership is.”

OSU Commencement

National Geographic website

Photography at OSU

Tracy Daugherty and Marjorie Sandor utilize their writing and teaching abilities in OSU’s master’s degree program in creative writing.

Husband and wife wins major writing awards
Husband and wife wins major writing awards

When Marjorie Sandor and her husband, Tracy Daugherty, captured major writing awards last year, it was nothing new for either of them.

Sandor won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for her collection of 10 short stories, Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime.

The stories are fictional portraits that revolve around a Jewish immigrant family that keeps secrets from each other to protect the younger generation from the family’s unfortunate history and contemporary struggles. “My mother really wasn’t very thrilled with the title,” Sandor says. “I had to explain to her the context for the title, and then she was okay with it.”

Daugherty, meanwhile, brought home the Oregon Book Award for the novel for his book, Axeman’s Jazz.

It was the third time he has won the Oregon Book Award, taking it for short fiction in 2003 and for the novel in 1996. Sandor won an Oregon Book Award in 2000 for a collection of essays, The Night Gardener.

Both are faculty members in OSU’s Department of English, and they bring their writing talents and success to the classroom as teachers in the university’s master of fine arts program in creative writing.

Daugherty, who is director of the MFA program, says although writers tend to be introspective and he was “petrified” when he first started teaching, he believes writing and teaching can be complementary activities.

“Learning to articulate an element of craft to a writing class helps me be clearer in my own approach to writing,” he says. “In other ways, they are opposed activities. In teaching the critical mind is most engaged; in writing, it’s the creative side of the brain that’s tapped.”

Sandor award news release

Online interview with Daugherty

Online interview with Sandor

MFA program in creative writing

Audio Selections (MP3)
You can download a free audio player from Real.com

Marjorie Sandor:
audio icon Elegy for Miss Beagle (MP3) and (text equivalent)
audio icon Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime (MP3) and (text equivalent)

Tracy Daugherty:
audio icon Power Lines (MP3) and (text equivalent)
audio icon Lamplighter (MP3) and (text equivalent)

A little creative thinking, a planning committee, and a pair of talented students turned routine repainting in the College of Pharmacy into a work of art.

Students work on the mural in the College of Pharmacy
Students work on the mural in the College of Pharmacy

When OSU Facilities Services painter Charles Vail and his manager, Joe Majeski, were discussing the need for an interior repainting for the Pharmacy Building, they wondered if they could achieve their department’s mission: “to wow” with something as routine as that.

“When we got to the west entrance, we noticed a beautiful frame with nothing in it,” Vail says. “That led to a ‘what if’ and ‘why not’ discussion of the possibility of murals.” Majeski gave the go-ahead and the idea was off and running.

Vail located an art student, Emidio Lopez and contacted the art department where he found another student, Kim Smith, interested in working on the project. A committee, led by pharmacy professor Lee Strandberg, developed a plan for the murals to depict the past and the future of pharmacy.

With the help of Kay Cooke, director of external relations in Pharmacy, things moved rapidly. Miller Paint Company donated the paint, Facilities Services provided the scaffolding, the College of Pharmacy gave Emidio and Kim a stipend, and the art department agreed to give the students project credit for their creative efforts.

“This has truly been a team effort,” says Vail.

The unveiling of the murals took place during the homecoming celebration on October 23.

College of Pharmacy

Department of Art

OSU’s Spring Creek Project brings together people from different disciplines to examine the relationship between human culture and nature.

Kathleen Dean Moore and Charles Goodrich
Kathleen Dean Moore and Charles Goodrich

Take an environmental scientist, a philosopher, and a poet. Put them together in a room and ask them to re-imagine connections between human culture and natural landscapes.

Is this a recipe for disaster? No, it’s just a challenge, says Kathleen Dean Moore, OSU philosophy professor and director of the Spring Creek Project.

Created through an endowment from an anonymous donor, the project is designed to explore the relation of humans to the rest of the natural world.

“That’s the idea behind the Spring Creek Project,” Moore says. “Bring together people with different background and perspectives–whether they are forest managers, artists, students, or scientists-and engage them in creative thought about how to live on this beautiful Earth.”

To encourage that cross-fertilization of ideas, the Spring Creek Project promotes what it calls “confluence communities.” These are groups of three or more people, preferably from different backgrounds, who get together to discuss themes that revolve around nature.

The centerpiece of the program is the Cabin at Shotpouch Creek, located on a 40-acre nature reserve and writing retreat in the Coast Range of western Oregon. The cabin serves as a meeting place for workshops and scholarly projects.

In addition to the cabin and confluence communities, the program offers a number of field courses and public events. There is also a Spring Creek Library, located on the second floor of Hovland Hall on the OSU campus.

Moore has high hopes for the interdisciplinary nature of the project. “We need to look beyond our own disciplines,” she says. “When we talk with people whose expertise is different from our own, creative new solutions and perspectives can emerge.”

The Spring Creek Project

Aerin Holman combines her apparel design major and her love for the theater–with outstanding results.

Holman in her element
Holman in her element

When it comes to theater, Aerin Holman has done it all.

The apparel design major from the tiny Willamette Valley town of Monroe, Oregon, has been involved with OSU’s University Theatre throughout her college career.

“She has acted in a variety of shows and has played major roles,” says Marion Rossi, faculty member in the Theatre. “She also has designed costumes, stage managed, done set design, and even worked in the costume shop.”

It’s costume design, a combination of her major and theater involvement, that has brought her the most acclaim. Working with theater professors Barbara Mason and Charlotte Headrick, Aerin conducted period research and designed all of the costumes for the OSU Theatre production of Henry V. It’s unusual enough for an undergraduate to be given the responsibility for costume design on a main stage production, but she did it so well that she won a regional award for costume design at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

This summer, Aerin is capping off her college career with an internship at the Central City Opera House near Denver, Colorado. A long way from Monroe.

Meanwhile, the OSU Theatre continues its tradition of producing a Shakespeare play each summer. This year’s production of “As You Like It” is scheduled for August 7, 8, 9 and 14, 15, 16, with a revival October 2, 3, and 4.

OSU Theatre home page

Summer Shakespeare play at OSU

OSU English professor Jon Lewis explores the symbiotic relationship between film and culture in America.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis

With wry wit and an academic’s analytical mind, professor Jon Lewis has taught film and cultural studies in the OSU English Department since 1983. He cheerfully admits that he has one of the best jobs at Oregon State University.

Lewis has a growing national reputation as an author and a critic of the film industry. He was recently named the editor of Cinema Journal, the nation’s leading critical and scholarly journal in film studies. Cinema Journal is sponsored by the Society for Cinema Studies, a group that includes university faculty, graduate students, archivists, filmmakers, and others in the film industry.

Lewis also served as editor and contributor to The End of Cinema as We Know It: American Film in the 90s (NYU, 2002), an anthology of essays on American film in the 1990s. The book covers a variety of topics, including film censorship and preservation, the changing structure and status of independent cinema, the continued importance of celebrity and stardom, and the sudden importance of alternative video.

An earlier book that examined the Hollywood rating system, Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Saved the Modern Film Industry, was favorably reviewed in The New York Times and other national publications. Lewis is the author of two other books on Hollywood: Francis Ford Coppola and the New Hollywood and The Road to Romance and Ruin: Teen Films and Youth Culture.