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6-wire musicians (from left) Xiang Gao, Matthew Brower and Cathy Yang wear the clothing created by a UD fashion design team specifically for the ensemble's Feb. 16 concert in Carnegie Hall.
When 6-wire, the University of Delawares ensemble-in-residence, took the stage in Carnegie Hall for a Feb. 16 concert, the musicians were a treat not only for the ears but also for the eyes.
Wearing coordinated shirts and gowns designed and created by UDs Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies specifically for the performance, the three internationally known 6-wire musicians made their New York debut to a full house in Carnegies Zankel Hall.
University President Dennis Assanis and his wife, Eleni, opened the concert by welcoming the audience of music-lovers, including UD alumni, faculty, students and staff.
Its so wonderful to be here in Carnegie Hall, one of the most storied performance venues in the world, Assanis said.
The process of creating performance attire for the musicians began several weeks before the concert, when 6-wire director and violinist Xiang Gao contacted Belinda Orzada, professor of fashion and apparel studies and an award-winning designer.
The two faculty members had previously worked together on a project in which fashion students used musical pieces as inspiration for their designs. The concert project had a challenging time frame approximately one month to produce two outfits for each of the three musicians, who would change their clothing at intermissionbut Orzada decided to take it on as an opportunity for both her own creativity and as valuable experience for students.
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Prof. Belinda Orzada (second from right), with Prof. Emeritus
M. Jo Kallal (second from left) and students Mikayla DuBreuil (left) and Cheyenne Smith, work on clothing for the concert.
Graduate students Cheyenne Smith, Mikayla DuBreuil and ChaCha Hudson
assisted Orzada, along with Prof. Emeritus M. Jo Kallal and
undergraduate apparel design major Wing Tang.
Its a very tight deadline, Orzada said one day in January as she
and the students worked with sample fabrics to produce prototypes of the
two male performers shirts. But, since this is Winter Session, we
have some flexibility to work long hours. Its been all hands on deck.
Gao suggested a possible East-West theme for the clothing
designs, in keeping with 6-wires musical influences, but he was open
to whatever we came up with, Orzada said.
She sketched some designs, conferred with the musicians, and then
began the process of choosing fabric and trim materials. From there, she
and the students created patterns and sample attire, met with the
performers for fittings and eventually produced the finished pieces.
We really started from scratch, taking measurements of the
musicians, said masters degree student Cheyenne Smith. We had to
learn a lot, especially about mens clothing, which uses different
techniques than womens.
Mikayla DuBreuil, also a masters degree student, agreed that most of
her previous design experience had focused on womens clothing.
Ive never done menswear, so this is a new experience for me, she
said as she worked on prototypes of two shirts for Gao, each with a
different style of collar and different-colored trim. Theres also the
challenge of fitting a real person instead of a mannequin.
Making it fit the person perfectly thats the tricky part.
Graduate student Cheyenne Smith (left) and Prof. Belinda Orzada work on one of the two gowns that musician Cathy Yang will wear.
Orzada pointed out some other complex parts of the design
process, including the need to remember that musicians have to move
freely while performing. A pianists sleeves cant hinder his hand
movements, for example, and the shoulder of a shirt or gown where a
violin or other instrument rests must be kept free of trim or other
details that might get in the way.
For Smith, some of these considerations werent new ideas. As an
undergraduate, she was a drum major in the UD Marching Band, and she
created band uniforms as her senior design project.
I used to play violin and mellophone, and I like combining my two
interests music and fashion design, she said. I enjoy thinking about
how design can enhance the experience for the musician.
The finished pieces for 6-wires Carnegie Hall concert included
coordinated, but not identical, shirts for the male musicians, using
black fabric and similar styles of trim in red and blue. Cathy Yang, who
plays a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, the erhu, wore two
silk gowns, one black with blue embellishment and one white with a red
and black overlay.
Design details in the completed performance attire were inspired by
the concept of movement, Orzada said: how Yangs red and black dress
moves as she walks and plays; the way sound and musical notes on a page
ebb and flow, rise and fall; and subtly by the 6-wire logo.
Watching 6-wire perform at Carnegie Hall brought the vision to
life, Orzada said. It was a wonderful opportunity to share my
creativity, along with that of my design team, with the UD community and
promote the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies programs.
The 6-wire musicians wear a second set of UD-designed concert attire.
The Valentines Weekend concert at Carnegie Hall, 6-wire and
Friends, showcased the three-member ensemble as well as other UD
Founded by Gao, 6-wire is internationally known as a pioneering
crossover ensemble inspired by the historical connection between the
erhu, the Chinese two-stringed violin, and the four-stringed violin.
The ensemble-in-residence for the Universitys Master Players Concert Series,
6-wire features Xiang Gao, UD Trustees Distinguished Professor of
Music, on violin, Cathy Yang on erhu and Matthew Brower on piano.
The Carnegie Hall concert, supported by the UD Presidents Office and
Office of Development and Alumni Relations, also showcased
collaborators from the University and beyond. Those included the UD
Chorale, directed by Paul Head, Unidel Distinguished Professor of Music
and director of choral studies; UD faculty cellist Lawrence
Stomberg; James Allen Anderson, UD director of orchestral activities,
leading the UD Chamber Orchestra and guest Tracy Richardson on
harpsichord; and New York cellist Gabriel Cabezas.
The concert featured world premieres of the new works Ealasaid by
UD faculty composer Jennifer Margaret Barker and Meridian Flux by
composer Mark Hagerty, new original works and arrangements by 6-wire,
and the New York premiere performance of Clearwater Rhapsody by
MacArthur Genius Grant awardee Bright Sheng.
The event also served as a celebration of UD's global community.
The English Language Institute, Institute for Global Studies and Office
for International Students and Scholars, sponsors of the concert, sent a
delegation of nearly 150 students to participate.
Tonight is a celebration of the University of Delawares innovative
spirit and our dedication to excellence, Assanis told the audience.
Our students, our faculty, our entire community they all benefit from
a strong arts program. This is why the University of Delaware is
absolutely committed to music and the arts.
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Lane McLaughlin and Kathy F. Atkinson