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This article by Elaine Strauss was prepared for the June 27, 2001

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Rutgers Summer All Stars

The choice of the Afro-Cuban All Stars to open the

2001 Rutgers SummerFest provides a tolerable X-ray into the artistic

thinking of Sato Moughalian, who initiates her directorship of the

summer festival this season. A thoughtful person, drawn to quality

in musical performance, and immune to artistic barriers, Moughalian

puts a premium on the roots that nourish art music. She favors


by groups that feature multiple generations. She has a bias toward

ethnic music, and a solid background in Latin American musical


Programming her first SummerFest, she has used venues beyond the


scope of the festival, and has included arts other than music.

The Afro-Cuban All Stars appear at New Brunswick’s State Theatre


June 28, at 8 p.m. Two concurrent art exhibitions at the Mason Gross

Galleries, a few steps away from the State Theatre, and at the


Museum, several blocks off, offer free gala receptions from 5 to 7:30

p.m; SummerFest is providing free bus transportation between the two


The backbone of the summer festival continues to be four Saturday

evening performances by the Rutgers Festival Orchestra, Richard Auldon

Clark, conducting. A film performance, Henry Clouzot’s "The


of Picasso," on Friday, July 6, is included, as are an authors’

night on Wednesday, July 18 featuring Samuel G. Freedman, author of

"Jew vs. Jew" and Ari Goldman, author of "Being


and a performance on Tuesday, July 24, by the Jose Limon Dance


which includes two new commissioned works.

The international scope of the festival surfaces, in addition to the

Cuban opening, with an orchestral performance devoted to Hungarian

music; an evening of music and dance from Rajasthan, in western India;

an a cappella evening featuring music of the 15th-century Burgundian

court; and a Brazilian evening.

A severely curtailed number of small-scale classical

performances is a notable departure from previous SummerFests. Only

two classical instrumental recitals are included. Classical chamber

music is absent except for one evening when 20th-century English and

American pieces share the stage with jazz chamber music.

The opening performers at SummerFest, the Afro-Cuban All Stars,


of a 13-member band spanning four generations. Juan de Marcos, Cuban

producer, composer, and arranger, directs. De Marcos initated the

Buena Vista Social Club project, which catapulted authentic Cuban

music of the 1940s and 50s, performed by some of its original


to world prominence. Among those performing at the State Theatre is

pianist Ruben Gonzalez, who at 78 infused his 50-year old career with

new vigor when he appeared with the Buena Vista Social Club.

Speaking during an interview at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the

Arts (MGSA) in New Brunswick, director Moughalian talks


about the ways in which the 14-year-old SummerFest is changing its

stripes. Her eyes sparkle as she talks with animation about this


festival. Hints of partially-formed visions for future seasons make

it clear that she has on-hand an iceberg-sized reservoir of ideas,

with this season’s presentations being merely the tip.

Appointed SummerFest director in November, Moughalian, a New


freelance flutist and music entrepreneur, has had a relatively short

period to shape the festival, which in the past was the province of

MGSA personnel. The decision to put Moughalian in charge was one of

the early acts of Bach scholar George Stauffer, who took over as MGSA

dean in August, 2000. The two met at Columbia University.

Moughalian is reluctant to claim responsibility for the new


"The dean was extremely involved," she says. "He wanted

to broaden the scope of programming, to include early music, and to

showcase people from the Mason Gross music faculty."

"I worked with a 25-member advisory committee," she continues.

"I was coming into the situation new, and I consulted with many

people. The dance faculty was especially helpful."

Still, Moughalian owns up to authorship of several signature events

in SummerFest 2001. Among them is a Brazilian dance demonstration

and dance lesson that takes place Sunday, July 22, at 4 p.m. in the

air-conditioned Arline and Robert Schwartzman Courtyard at New


Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. The six-member Gafieira Band from Brazil

presents a 30-minute dance demonstration followed by two hours of

music and dancing. Gafieira, Moughalian explains, is a Brazilian form

of popular dance. "It’s very syncopated and energetic," she

says. "There’s lots of percussion in a multi-layered African


The steps are simple to learn. No experience is required. Children

are encouraged to attend. I wanted an event where people could


The joint performances of students and seasoned professionals is


matter which Moughalian admits initiating. In preparation for a


by the Rutgers Festival Orchestra, she has arranged for Jonathan


principal cellist at the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, to present

a master class devoted to the art of playing principal cello Thursday,

July 5, at 3 p.m., in Room 104 of the Nicholas Music Center on the

Douglass College campus. Admission for observers is gratis. At the

orchestral concert on Saturday, July 7, Spitz is the guest principal

cellist. "The students will play, not only for him, but with


Moughalian points out. The Saturday evening performance at 8 p.m.

in Nicholas Music Center includes Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.

2 with soloist Susan Starr; Wolf’s "Italian Serenade," with

viola soloist Nardo Poy; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3


Guest first-chair instrumentalists, veteran performers, in addition

to Spitz, appear at the concert.

"I think it’s important for students to play alongside people

who will be their future colleagues," says Moughalian. "The

benefits are that they learn musically, and also that they make


contacts." Marlboro, the incomparable Vermont home of world-class

chamber music, pioneered the practice of mixing veterans and


The practice has since been taken up at major music festivals


Aspen and Tanglewood.

Convinced of the benefits for students, I press Moughalian to explain

why the mix is good for audiences. "It gives them a chance to

hear members of major musical groups," she says, "and to


what happens when you put gifted students together with professional

colleagues. There’s a special freshness."

Moughalian herself performs with Christine Fish-Moulton,

a MGSA doctoral candidate in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4


July 12, at 8 p.m., in Kirkpatrick Chapel on the Rutgers campus.


soloist in the piece is Erica Kiesewatter, concertmaster of the


Symphony Orchestra. The evening, called "The Joy of Bach"

includes Bach Cantatas No. 51 and No. 202 ("The Wedding").

Additional soloists include Julianne Baird, soprano; Chris Gekker,

trumpet; and Melanie Feld, oboe. The performance is by Perspectives,

a conductorless instrumental group founded by Moughalian in 1993.

With a core membership of 12 strings, winds, and piano, Perspectives

devotes itself to presenting music in context, and crossing the


between visual and musical arts.. The SummerFest program on Tuesday,

July 10 at 8 p.m. in Nicholas Music Center displays Perspectives’

characteristic approach. Called "Under the Influence: Popular

Culture and the Arts in 1920s Europe," it consists of an


talk on the European scene during the period by a member of the


art history faculty, followed by performances of Milhaud’s


du Monde" and cabaret songs by Weill, Satie, and Zemlinsky.


are Amy Burton, soprano; Diane Walsh, piano; and Paul Cohen,


Moughalian explains her motivation for creating the ensemble.


music," she says, "has gotten fragmented and separated from

its roots. Take the elegant minuets of Mozart and Haydn. They listened

to village music. When we perform their music, we rarely have in our

ears the music that the composers heard." A typical Perspectives

program, for example, has presented the most traditional Flamenco

music and dance before intermission, followed by de Falla pieces


from the folk tradition.

Moughalian grew up in Highland Park, the daughter of an engineer


and a librarian-turned-high-school-English-teacher. Her first


was the recorder. She graduated from Columbia’s Barnard College in

the class of ’80, a music major. As an undergraduate, she met MGSA

dean George Stauffer, who was teaching at Columbia. Moughalian also

studied at North Carolina School of the Arts and Manhattan School

of Music.

After finishing at Barnard she spent eight years touring for Columbia

Artists, playing in up to 75 chamber music concerts a season,


and participating in residencies. After being in transit for about

six months a year for a period, she decided to focus primarily on

her New York activities. Her present travel is primarily


and in order to perform. Much of it displays her interest in


Latin American composers.

Eager to give meaning to concert programs after her itinerant years,

she proposed the creation of Perspectives to Stauffer, who was then

head of chapel music at Columbia. The group held a residency at


from 1993 to 1999. It is currently in residence at New York’s 92nd

Street "Y." It also has appeared at Lincoln Center’s Great

Performers series. "We have a reputation for highly polished


Moughalian says.

Perspectives’ first CD, devoted to the chamber music of Charles


came out on the Newport label. Its first recording for Sony Classics,

devoted to the music of Richard Danielpour, was released in May.

"Perspectives has a general manager now," says Moughalian,

adding, "I used to do everything myself." When she talks about

the genesis of the general managership, she tells it with no fanfare,

almost unaware of how remarkable the story is. "I received the

only inheritance I’m going to receive," she says. "Six


dollars from my late beloved aunt. And I used it for the first few

months of the general manager’s salary. It was one of the best


I ever made." The legacy contributed to Perspectives’ stability.

The general manager’s salary is now financed by fees from


contributions, and grants. And Moughalian can devote herself to


Perspectives and other enterprises on the map, guided by her strong

inner compass, which seems to treat the box office as an insignificant

magnetic disturbance a great distance away.

— Elaine Strauss

Afro-Cuban All Stars, Rutgers Summerfest 2001, State

Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-932-7511. The 2001

edition of the summer music festival opens with the acclaimed


All Stars, 13 musicians strong, with legendary pianist Ruben Gonzalez.

Juan de Marco is the producer, composer, arranger, and musical


$20, & $25. Call for festival brochure or visit

Thursday, June 28, 8 p.m.

SummerFest Season

Rutgers Festival Orchestra, Nicholas Music Center,


Campus, New Brunswick, 732-932-7511. Susan Starr in Rachmaninoff Piano

Concerto No. 2, with Beethoven Symphony No. 3. $15. Saturday, July

7, 8 p.m.

Maharaja, Nicholas Music Center, Douglass Campus. The

10-member Rajasthani Indian music and dance troupe. $15. Sunday,

July 8, 4 p.m.

Perspectives in Music & Art, Nicholas Music Center,


Campus. The 17-member Perspectives Ensemble, led by Sato Moughalian,

performs Milhaud’s "Creation du Monde," on a program that

includes an illustrated cultural history talk, and cabaret songs by

Weill, Satie, and Zemlinsky. $15. Tuesday, July 10, 8 p.m.

The Joy of Bach, Kirpatrick Chapel, Old Queens Campus,

Rutgers. Brandenburg Concert No. 4, Cantatas Nos. 41 and 202. $15.

Thursday, July 12, 8 p.m.

Rutgers Festival Orchestra, Nicholas Music Center,


Campus. "Magyar Masterpieces: Music of Hungarian Composers."

$15. Saturday, July 14, 8 p.m.

Pomerium, Christ Church, 5 Paterson Street, New Brunswick.

Music of the Court of Philip the Good performed by Alexander Blachly’s

a cappella ensemble. $15. Sunday, July 15, 4 p.m.

SummerStars, Nicholas Music Center, Douglass Campus. Mason

Gross School of the Arts performance faculty present classical and

jazz chamber music. $15. Tuesday, July 17, 8 p.m.

Samuel G. Freeman and Ari Goldman, Civic Square


33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. Authors’ Night featuring writers

Samuel G. Freeman and Ari Goldman. Free. Wednesday, July 18, 8


Rutgers Festival Orchestra, Nicholas Music Center,


Campus. Guest artists David Jolley, horn, and Jesse Levy, cello. $15.

Saturday, July 21, 8 p.m.

SummerFest Swings, Arline and Robert Schwartzman


Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, New Brunswick. A 30-minute dance


followed by two hours of music and dancing. $15. Sunday, July 22,

4 p.m.

Lara St. John and Ilan Rechtman, Rutgers Summerfest ,

Nicholas Music Center, Douglass Campus. $15. Monday, July 23, 8


Jose Limon Dance Company, Nicholas Music Center, Douglass

Campus. $15. Tuesday, July 24, 8 p.m.

Anne-Marie McDermott, Nicholas Music Center, Douglass

Campus. $15. Friday, July 27, 8 p.m.

Rutgers Festival Orchestra, Nicholas Music Center.


finale features Tchaikovsky’s Concert for Violin with Elmar Oliveira

on violin, Saint-Saens Symphony, and Richard Danielpour’s, "First

Light." $15. Saturday, July 28, 8 p.m.

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