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‘Tis the season: Boston Camerata to give 21st concert at Union

Posted on Nov 30, 2009

Boston Camerata, founded in 1954, is one of the world’s oldest continually functioning early music ensembles. On Sunday, Dec. 13 at 3 p.m., the group, which plays historically informed compositions from European medieval, renaissance and baroque eras, returns to Union.

Boston Camerata, directed by Anne Azema

During the upcoming concert, Boston Camerata’s distinguished singers and specialists in early instruments will present a Christmas narrative, retold through songs, chants and instrumentals from Spain, Italy, southern France, northern Africa and the Middle East. The pieces the group will play have been drawn from medieval manuscripts and archaic oral traditions.

Boston Camerata, which also performs early American music, appears all over the world. And with more than 30 CDs and videos to its name, the ensemble has clinched many prestigious awards and won critical acclaim over and over again. In 1989, under director Joel Cohen, the group was awarded the coveted Grand Prix du Disque for its recording of the medieval Tristan and Iseult legend.

In addition to live performances, musical education is also important to Boston Camerata members. A highly regarded, annual summer workshop in medieval song was produced by the group in France between 1996 and 2005. And during fall 2007, Boston Camerata was in residency at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Under the auspices of the school’s Marco Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, it was the group’s most extensive and ambitious educational project to date.

The concert is free to members of the Union community. General admission tickets cost $25, though area students may attend for $10. For a complete listing of Concert Series performances, click here.

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Recap of Homecoming and Family Weekend

Posted on Nov 23, 2009

Homecoming and Family Weekend 2009. Family photo. Fanning.


Homecoming weekend featured an impressive lineup of events for all ages including a Halloween costume parade for kids, a student-run haunted house and a range of events for returning alumni.


Rival RPI was on hand for a Friday night hockey game, won by RPI 4-3 in overtime, and a Saturday afternoon gridiron battle, won by Union 20-15. The football win, highlighted by junior running back Chris Coney’s 138 yards and three touchdowns, delivered the Dutchman Shoes Trophy back to Union after a three-year absence.


More than 2,000 people, including alums and their families, visited the campus for the festivities.


“This weekend reflected the spirit and pride of Union,” said Nick Famulare ’92, director of Alumni Relations. “We expect another colorful fall weekend in 2010 and invite all families and alumni back to campus.”


The 2010 weekend will be held from Oct. 15 – 17 and will feature a football game against St. Lawrence University.


For more, visit Union's photo gallery. Also, check out Times Union newspaper gallery of football spectators

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Pixelated creativity: Art on the computer

Posted on Nov 23, 2009

No paint, charcoal or clay was used to make the art now on display in The Wikoff Student Gallery’s newest exhibit. Instead, each piece in “The Illuminated Pixel” show was generated on a computer by students in “Intro to Digital Art” and “3D Computer Modeling.”

Dave Sayles '10, Candy Ribbon, 2009, pigmented ink on paper. For “Illuminated Pixel” show.

David Sayles ’10, an interdepartmental computer science and digital art major, was right at home using a machine to produce meaningful and beautiful images.

“When it comes right down to it, technology is just another tool, like the paint brush,” he said. “Pixels are squares on a screen used to represent any color you choose, and using a grid of pixels, any image can be created.”

“The computer is my favorite conduit for creating art because it’s so versatile,” continued Sayles, who took the “Intro to Digital Art” class. “You can make kinetic and interactive pieces, plus you can use scanners and cameras to bring in other media to manipulate. My piece in the show, for instance, is basically really big scans of food.”

Pamela April ’10, an interdepartmental art and anthropology major, took the 3D modeling course. And while she admits painting comes more naturally to her than the computer programs she used in class, she values technology as an artistic medium.

“Creating art digitally opened up a whole new world of art for me,” April said. “The computer allows you exact control over what you’re producing. You can delete, be precise, alter objects. You can create something familiar or something completely imaginary.

Pamela April '10, “Jonathan's Game II,” pigmented ink on paper. For “Illuminated Pixel” exhibit.

“Like more the conventional methods of painting or drawing, digital art still allows you to express yourself and communicate ideas through art.”

Open now through Sunday, Jan. 31, the exhibit also showcases the work of Lori Cassorla ’10, Phil Cohn ’13, Elizabeth Culp ’10, Rachel Feldman ’12, Vishnu Gollakota ’12, Rachel Guralnick ’11, Davis Knox ’11, Aaron Levine ’10, Liang Li ’11, Hallie Maybrey ‘10, Jiri Matousek ‘10, Ben McIntosh ’10, Julia Vu ’10, Nancy Wilk ’10 and Stacy Yoo ’11.

For more information, call 388-6004 or click here.

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Ethics Bowl win qualifies Union team to compete in nationals in March

Posted on Nov 19, 2009

The Union College Ethics Bowl team is the winner of this year’s Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl, an academic tournament that provides a forum and an opportunity for students to examine, in-depth, laws and ethics that govern society.

“Our students are confronting a rich variety of issues and developing moral arguments that draw on a wide range of disciplines,” said the team’s advisor, Mark Wunderlich, a visiting assistant professor in the Philosophy Department.

There were 18 teams representing 12 colleges and universities at the regional event. Union won its semifinal round against regional host Marist College and defeated Dartmouth in the final round.

Lativa Holder '10

As a result Union has been invited to compete in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship in Cincinnati in March.

“Philosophy is my passion, so winning the regional was everything I could have hoped for,” said Lativa Holder ’10, a philosophy major with a minor in mathematics. “I was especially proud to be a part of such a dedicated group of students. Ethics Bowl has given me a sense of purpose and camaraderie I've never experienced before.”

Also representing Union were Ian Clemente ’10, David Kanaan ’10, Hyma Kavuri ’10, Adam Koslin ’10, David Leavitt ’12, Jacob Pet ’12, Ryan Semerad ’13, Benjamin Setel ’13 and Ryan Vineyard ’12.

Cases explored the ethics of such issues as the increasing use by students of neuroenhancers, the illegal settlement of Kenyans in their national parks and the credibility of Internet “news.”

Students bring a variety of talents to the team, including public speaking, debating and analytical skills; creativity and mental agility; and the ability to work cooperatively with their peers. 

Prof. mark Wunderlich with Ian Clemente '10

“Our students’ success reflects their hard work, dedication and phenomenal ability to collaborate under pressure,” said Wunderlich.

Union participated in its first Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in 2003 and quickly distinguished itself as a top contender. In 2006, the Union team placed second at the National Championship.

“The Ethics Bowl means a lot to all of us,” said Leavitt, an economics major who joined the team as a freshman last year.  “We all realize that the moment we step into the debate, everything we do reflects upon ourselves – and on Union. We want to represent Union in the best possible light we can.”      

David Leavitt '12

In praising Wunderlich’s coaching, Leavitt said, “He pushes all of us to go further. Students walk away having had a great time and, more importantly, learning quite a bit about how to debate and present an argument.”

The Union team is funded by the Internal Education Fund, the Office of the Dean of Studies and the Office of the Dean of Academic Departments. It is sponsored by the Philosophy Department, with faculty members from a cross-section of campus providing perspectives and insight.

For example, Clemente, a philosophy/English interdepartmental major, was in touch with Psychology Professor Susie Benack regarding two cases involving psychological testing. Benack also helped coordinate a Minerva lunch to help with training, and Joshua Hart of the Psychology Department offered his assistance, as well.

“Ethics Bowl has been a major part of my life at Union since fall 2007,” Clemente said. “It encapsulates the perfect balance of academics and extracurriculars, providing a platform to discuss current social issues while still finding a connection with many close friends in the heat of competition.”

Koslin, a history major, put cases in historical context and also “deftly incorporated material from recent talks on campus by Darius Rejali,” said Wunderlich. The visit in October by the internationally recognized expert on torture and interrogation was organized by Political Science Professor Tom Lobe, who included some members of the Ethics Bowl team in a related book discussion group. 

“Everyone is always willing to help,” said Leavitt, “whether it’s a professor who gives up lunch to share some thoughts with the team, friends who’ll go over your case with you or even professors on sabbatical who generously correspond with the team.”

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Robots clean up Old Chapel

Posted on Nov 17, 2009

The Triads were on a mission to clean up Old Chapel Tuesday afternoon – with a robot. The mess they were tackling, of toy French fries and plastic golf balls posing as dirt, was part of the final design challenge for the team’s introduction to engineering class.

Bessena Cabe '13 and Jeff Ehrlich '13, of The Triads, compete in “Roomba Challenge” November 2009.

Inspired by a self-piloted vacuum called the Roomba, the challenge was to build a machine capable of removing simulated food and dirt from the floors of mock rooms. Using two-by-fours, kitchens and living rooms were laid out in squares on the floor of Old Chapel. 

The Triads’ robot, along with the robots of 30 other teams, was also required to perform a function the real Roomba does not. After collecting the golf balls, the little machines had to be able to dump them in a trash bin.

Many robots were up to the challenge and performed all requirements admirably. The Triads, also known as first-year students Abigail Liss, Jeff Ehrlich and Bessena Cabe, were the masterminds behind one of these successful creations. 

“It was very exciting and mind-blowing, really,” said Cabe, a mechanical engineering major. “To see the robot finished and actually performing the tasks we programmed it for was amazing.”

Liss, who is considering a major in electrical engineering, was equally proud of their achievement, and of what they learned along the way. 

“This was a great project because I discovered so much about something I didn’t have much familiarity with,” she said. “I really enjoyed getting to understand computer programming more.”

Faculty involved with the class and the challenge are happy to be able to present students with this kind of hands-on learning opportunity. 

“They learn valuable teamwork and design skills that are crucial in engineering,” Dean of Engineering Cherrice Traver said. “They also hone communication skills through an oral presentation and written report.”

“Roomba Challenge” in Old Chapel November 2009

Ehrlich, Cabe and Liss have certainly gotten a lot out of putting their heads together.

“This experience was great because we worked so well with each other,” said Ehrlich, who intends to major in mechanical engineering. “We’re The Triads because, if you think of a triangle, it’s a very strong shape. We’re a very strong team.”

Faculty who taught the class this term are Senior Lecturer in Electrical and Computer Engineering James Hedrick, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Bill Keat, Visiting Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Abe Tchako, Visiting Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Sara Hooshangi and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Yu Chang. Hedrick also coordinated the course.

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