Steven Laronga is returning to Madison next month from East Java, Indonesia, where, under the auspices of a Fulbright fellowship, he conducted nearly two years of intensive ethnographic field research for his dissertation in ethnomusicology. Steve completed a B.A. in Music at Wesleyan University, where he first was introduced to Javanese music, and then studied at STSI, a prestigious music college in Central Java with an Indonesian government Darmasiswa fellowship before entering the graduate program in ethnomusicology at UW-Madison. In preparation for writing his M.A. thesis on the “fusion aesthetic” of a new Javanese musical genre known as “Campur Sari,” he spent nearly two additional years in Java, at which time he also undertook exploratory work that led to his unique dissertation project, which looks at the musical lives and economic realities of gamelan musicians in the Javanese and Madurese cultural mix in and around the city of Surabaya in East Java. In addition to gathering data through interviews and observation, Steve actively participated as a performer with several groups and returns to Madison with an unparalleled depth of knowledge about the musical practices of East Java.
Mike Basak graduated with a bachelor’s degree in percussion performance. While here, he served as the acting principal percussionist of the Beloit Janesville Symphony and was a substitute percussionist for the Dubuque Symphony. This summer, he will attend the Pierre Monteux School for conductors and orchestra musicians in Hancock, Maine on a full scholarship, and then will move to Boston to study with members of the Boston Symphony as he begins a masters program in percussion.
Mike shared a few thoughts about the UW-Madison SOM and Tony Di Sanza, professor of percussion:
“UW has a music program that is all-encompassing. The UW music school does a good job of offering a curriculum where all of your classes and performance studies inform one another. It’s very easy to take what I learn in theory and history and use it in my performances and vice versa. [And] what I really like about Prof. Di Sanza is how much he cares for all of his students. He cares for us not as a studio, but as individuals. I hear a lot about, and have experienced, some other programs where the idea is to just do whatever your professor tells you, no matter what you think. Rather, Professor Di Sanza adjusts how he teaches to best suit each student individually. He encourages us to take a lot of risks and really push ourselves in a way that can be rare in the world of education. There are a lot of really major events in my undergrad that really shaped who I am as a person and as an artist that I could only have gotten from this studio.”