Public Affairs

Learning from the Stars at CSU Summer Arts

March 29, 2011
By Erik Fallis

Every summer brings a star-studded gathering of artists, musicians, animators, actors and designers.  No, it is not another awards show.  Instead, these stars are guest artists that dedicate their time and effort to mentor students at CSU Summer Arts.

Created in 1985, CSU Summer Arts is a statewide program offering academic credit plus a festival in the visual, performing and literary arts.  During its more than 25-year history, CSU Summer Arts has cultivated new talents while hosting leading industry experts.  This mentoring environment allows students to build connections and gather "tips of the trade."  The relationships built at CSU Summer Arts last well beyond the end of the term, as described by Fresno State alumna Rhiannon Fernandez.

For students who are interested in building these types of connections with fellow students and leaders in the industry, it is not too late to apply.  Listed on the CSU Summer Arts website are the course offerings, schedule and application deadlines.  Most deadlines are in May.

The CSU is grateful to all the artists who give back through teaching.  Featured below are five of the award-winning artists that have served in recent years:

Bruce BroughtonBruce Broughton's first major film score, for the Lawrence Kasdan western Silverado, brought him an Oscar nomination.  His next project, a classically styled score for Barry Levinson's Young Sherlock Holmes, earned a Grammy nomination for the soundtrack album.

Broughton has been nominated for more than 20 Emmys, receiving a record 10 – most recently for HBO's Warm Springs.  He's also won Emmys for Eloise at Christmastime; Eloise at The Plaza; Glory & Honor; O Pioneers!; Tiny Toon Adventures Theme Song; The First Olympics, Athens 1896, Part I; Dallas: Ewing Blues; Dallas: The Letter; and Buck Rogers: The Satyr.

He is one of the most versatile composers working today, writing in every medium, from theatrical releases and TV feature films to the concert stage and computer games.  His numerous credits, awards and nominations can be found here.

Broughton's approach to film or theatrical scores is to decide how he feels about the theme, story line or element on the screen "and then find the appropriate notes to express that."  The challenge is to make the music transform to the needs of the film.

Paul Gemigani Paul Gemignani is the world-renowned musical director of more than 40 Broadway and West End (London) productions.  In 2001, he received a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Broadway Theatre.

In 2006, Gemignani received an Emmy Award for “Best Musical Direction” for the PBS/Great Performances presentation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific in concert from Carnegie Hall.  His many other awards and recognitions include a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award, Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre from the Drama League of New York, and a special Drama Desk Award.  Additionally, he received Grammy nominations for Sweeney Todd, Crazy for You, Passion, Kiss Me Kate, Assassins and an Emmy nomination for My Favorite Broadway, The Love Songs.  His award-winning work for television includes Passion for The American Song Book series for which the show received an Emmy Award.

Gemignani credits a "constant love for music" and the privilege of working and learning from other incredible artists for sustaining him through a more than 42-year career "but who's counting."  He encourages students to "not worry about being famous" or about achieving a specific career goal.  Instead, "do the work you have a passion for."

Andrew Gordon Andrew Gordon has been an animator on Pixar Animation Studios' A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2.  As a Lead Animator, Gordon’s character work includes Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc., Gill from Finding Nemo, Edna Mode, the costume designer in The Incredibles, and Linguini from Ratatouille.  Additionally, he supervised animation on Pixar’s Academy Award-nominated short film Presto and Toy Story 3.  Prior to his work at Pixar, he worked in the Looney Tunes division of Warner Bros.  For his work on Finding Nemo, he was awarded "Outstanding Character Animation in an Animated Motion Picture" by the Visual Effects Society.

Gordon had a unique perspective to share with students.  He attended CSU Summer Arts at the age of 18, even though he was living in New Jersey at the time.  According to Gordon, "artists that I had only read about were going to be teaching there.  It was truly a chance to learn from the best in the field."

Gordon is now one of those people that current students look up to as the best in their field.

Bruce Swedien Bruce Swedien is a legendary engineer with a rich recording history.  Anyone who has heard Michael Jackson's Thriller knows Swedien's work.

Swedien has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, and has won five times.  Swedien has worked with Lena Horne, Jennifer Lopez, Santana, Quincy Jones, Mick Jagger, Muddy Waters, Michael Jackson, Missing Persons, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, LL Cool J, Barbra Streisand, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, the Chi-Lites, and hundreds of others. In 1991, he was honored with the TEC (Technical Excellence and Creativity) Hall Of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.

Swedien rejects the view that "popular music doesn't require the same wide range of spectrum and dynamics that you find in classical music."  He believes that all music shares the same underlying qualities – encouraging students to attend live orchestral music performances, and apply what they hear to recordings.

Keaton Walker is a three-time Emmy Award-winning production designer for network television.  His credits include the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, and the American Music Awards.  His latest assignment was the Screen Actors Guild Awards for 2011. 

Walker has visited with four master classes at CSU Summer Arts.  He shares the work that goes into trying to achieve the best-finished product possible.  According to Walker, "it is attention to details that makes the design look great on camera.  Right up to the moment the show goes 'live' the production design team will be double checking that the set is looking great."  In producing live shows, like the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Walker has come to rely on this team of creative and hardworking people around him.