Located on the second floor of Alumni Hall is a mixture of historical and contemporary works, musical instruments and a mixture of student voices, all displaying the importance of music across different cultures – coming together symphonically to form the exhibition “Beyond the Beat”.
After a hiatus over the summer, “Beyond The Beat” is back for the fall semester. Starting September 13, it will be open every Monday through Thursday – along with Sundays; The exhibition is free for all those who wish to immerse themselves in musical exuberance.
Featuring pieces from the Longyear Museum of Anthropology, Picker Art Gallery, and contributions from students, what really makes the gallery special is not the singularity of focus, but the dedicated attention to different aspects of music. Different display sections represent different images of different music styles. Particular appreciation is given to pieces of music originating from the African continent, an area historically underrepresented in contemporary museums and associations.
Junior Ray Zhang, one of the students curators of the show, explained how he was able to connect with a musical experience from his childhood through the project. One of the museum’s curated instruments, the Hulusi is important to him for personal reasons.
“I I started playing Hulusi when I was seven years old. Although I no longer play it, the instrument is a symbol of my early childhood musical experience. This was a wonderful moment of musical enlightenment for me, which made me appreciate the beauty of Chinese traditional music even more,Zhang said.
By drawing on the perspectives of students such as Zhang, the exhibition is able to highlight the heterogeneous nature of music. Building on student research and efforts in the fall of 2021, the organization was formed by nine students at MUSE 300, a summit course in museum organization for those majoring in museum studies. These nine students drew on their expertise and curiosity to embody and celebrate the musical growth of a culture.
One of the students in charge of the gallery, young Gabe Amato, photographed the unique process the students on the course went through to build the gallery. While explaining how Rebecca Mendelsohn, Co-Director of University Museums and Curator of the Longyearbyen Museum of Anthropology; A researcher and trainer in sociology and anthropology, she taught the MUSE 300 course by drawing on students’ personality and creativity, and noted the following:
“Every Thursday in class we will have group brainstorming sessions where we can discuss different design elements and details about the layout and general aesthetic of the exhibition. Much of the same artifacts were shown in the gallery based on independent personal research done by each student. Each of us has a display case We sponsored it, so in this case the creative process was entirely ours.”
A synthesis of music that closely parallels cultural currents provides the opportunity for students to examine music introspectively and critically in a way that goes beyond their own experience with it. For those passionate about music, or even just interested in the mystical nature of music, Beyond the Beat is a gateway to exploring the eclectic ways in which music can be curated.
Yang Yang, a returning graduate of Colgate College who works in the Residential Life and International Student Office, reflected on her experience at the fair when it took place last year.
“It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about different cultural tools and their unique importance to different societies. I also loved how these students’ perspectives were represented,” Yang said. “It’s something I remember very well, and I hope others can benefit from this experience as well.”
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