UAB Magazine Weekly - Features on Campus Life
In Sync With UAB’s Computer Music Ensemble
By Blake Tommey
Two words sum up the UAB Computer Music Ensemble (CME): far out. The 12-member group in the Department of Music mixes synthesizers with software—including Apple Logic, Reason, and ProTools—to create often-unconventional compositions.
Senior Andrew Hyde came to UAB to study music. What type of music, exactly, was still up in the air: he had no prepared instrument and wasn’t very keen on vocal performance, either. Then he discovered the CME.
“Singing in choir isn’t really my thing,” says the music technology major. “I’m here to write good music on computers and learn those techniques and styles. That’s my niche.” Hyde’s brand of music features everything from singing robots and electronic drum circles to Wii remotes that trigger modulated synthesizer notes.
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UAB Alumni Thrive in Creative Careers
By Glenny Brock
UAB alumnus David Sandlin, who has built a successful career as an artist in New York (his painting "Begin" is shown above), is returning to Birmingham for the UAB Alumni Open Exhibition at the Gallery at UAB.
The UAB Alumni Open Exhibition, which opened earlier this month and runs through November 6, is part class reunion, part show-and-tell. The event has filled the newly renamed Gallery at UAB (formerly the Visual Arts Gallery) with paintings, drawings, photographs, mixed-media assemblages, and sculpture from about two dozen graduates of the bachelor of arts and bachelor of fine arts degree programs at UAB. But this inaugural gathering is as much a showcase of working artists as works of art.
Some of the alumni showing their work only make art as an avocation now, while others have forged careers as full-time artists. Yet all have learned that being an artist can mean making work and making it work—in part by applying lessons learned in the classroom in the real world.
The Power of Creative Thinking
“I always knew that if I personally wanted to make it as a ‘professional artist,’ I would need a supplementary income,” says Daisy Winfrey, a 2007 UAB graduate. “Ideally, this would be a job that existed in the realm of the art world, but I also knew it was possible it would be a job that I hated.”
As it turns out, Winfrey found a job that she loves. After completing her B.A., Winfrey became art director of Studio By The Tracks, a nonprofit organization in Irondale that provides free art classes to children and adults with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or mental illness.
“I coordinate all the curricula and supplies for the adults and children who attend our art classes,” Winfrey explains. “It helps to be creative and it helps to be a problem-solver. I’d say that having an art degree facilitates this kind of flexibility and quick thinking.”
Click the arrow buttons below to see a slideshow of Winfrey's work. (Having trouble seeing the slideshow? Click here)
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Ovie Soko’s Journey to Basketball—and Birmingham
By Grant Martin
As a young basketball player growing up in a country obsessed with soccer, Ovie Soko knew he would need to go away if he ever wanted to get noticed playing basketball. Plenty of people are noticing him now.
Soko, a sophomore forward on the UAB men’s basketball team, left his hometown of London, England, three years ago to finish high school in the United States. This past summer, Soko returned to Europe to represent Great Britain in the 2010 Under 20 Men’s Basketball European Championship. He led his team in scoring with more than 19 points per game and put in a dominating 31-point, seven-rebound effort in the final game. Soko’s scoring average was the fourth highest among all players in the tournament.
The performance was an encouraging sign for UAB, which expects to depend heavily on Soko in the coming season—but Soko says it’s also a sign of the rising level of basketball talent in his home country.
For the past week, the avant-garde troupe MASS Ensemble has been in residence at UAB's Alys Stephens Center, offering free public mini-concerts to show off the group's intriguing Earth Harp, a complex creation that turns buildings into instruments through a series of brass "strings," tuning blocks, and resonators. MASS members tapped UAB engineering students to help them install the Earth Harp on Monday, in an hours-long sequence captured by UAB photographer Steve Wood in this time-lapse film.
Buy tickets to the MASS Ensemble Rock Opera show (Friday, Sept. 24 @ 8 p.m.)
UAB Physician Pulls His Own Strings
By Caperton Gillett
Click on the "play" button above to hear a clip of "From the Forest a Child" from Kirk Withrow's Lullaby CD. To hear more samples from Withrow's cigar-box guitars, click here.
UAB head and neck surgeon Kirk Withrow, M.D., doesn’t stop operating when he gets home from work. His patients are a little smaller, however—and possibly more aromatic. Withrow finds his muse in cigar boxes of all sizes and shapes, which he turns into guitars that he gives away and plays himself.
UAB Magazine: How did you get interested in making cigar-box guitars?
Withrow: It was actually one of my patients who got me started. I began playing the banjo when I was 21, but during my residency I didn’t play that much. While I was on call one night—the funny thing is I had tried really hard to switch with someone else that night—a patient came in who was a cabinetmaker. He stuck around for three or four days, and over that time we talked about music. When he mentioned the idea of a cigar box guitar, I had no idea what he was talking about. But when he came back to see us at the clinic, he brought me one. I started making them and playing them, and that’s really all I play now.
Where do you get the boxes?
Mostly from cigar stores. At one store the lady actually knew which boxes would probably work well and would save them for me. The boxes are always empty when I get them. Come to think of it, I don’t actually think I have ever really smoked a cigar. (Story continues below the video)