Composer/Pianist John McGinn Will Offer Insight on His Processes
The Austin College 2019 Cunningham Lectures, with a focus on “Contemplative Mindfulness,” continue October 29 at 4:30 p.m. in Craig Hall, Room 206at Austin College. Dr. John McGinn, Austin College associate professor of music, will present a session entitled: “Creative Musical Mindfulness: ‘Becoming’ the Composer.” A reception will precede the lecture, beginning at 4:10 p.m. outside the meeting room. The session is free and open to the public.
This is one of several interactive sessions on the theme of “Contemplative Mindfulness” scheduled for the 2019-2020 academic year. The sessions are designed to expose the community to the emerging field of contemplative studies in higher education, according to organizer Dr. Ivette Vargas-O’Bryan, Austin College professor of religious studies.
In the October 29 session, McGinn, a composer and pianist, will offer personal reflections on his own approach to musical mindfulness. “Composition, performance, improvisation, analysis, and teaching have all evolved into different facets of a single ‘creative’ activity,” he explains. “Progressive aims include self-discovery, celebration, and musical connection to my fellow beings and beyond.”
McGinn, who has been a member of the Austin College faculty since 2008, received his undergraduate music degree from Harvard University and his doctorate in composition from Stanford University. His works have won several honors and been performed at colleges and festivals nationwide. As an arranger, McGinn has created piano reductions of several large-scale works, including John Adams’ Nixon in China for publication by Boosey & Hawkes.
As a pianist and keyboardist, McGinn has performed throughout the United States and Europe and appeared on more than a dozen commercial recordings, including several recent CDs with The Shakespeare Concerts, based in Massachusetts, which he served as music director from 2003 to 2008 and remains emeritus music director.
“For the last few years, ‘mindfulness’ has been the buzz word for new therapies in clinical practices and expansions in scientific research on brain plasticity,” O’Bryan said. “Most visible in Buddhist traditions, although present in several other religious traditions, mindfulness has been part of ongoing international dialogues between the 14th Dalai Lama and medical and scientific experts. Recently, because of increasing issues with mental health and new learning theories at colleges and universities, academic institutions have applied mindfulness to improve student learning, problem-solving, and understanding, as well as personal connection and awareness.”
Throughout the year, experts from a variety of disciplines at Emory University, University of Texas at Austin, Austin College, and the Center for Brain Health in Dallas as well as psychologists and therapists, contemplative scientists, yoga and taiji practitioners, and Catholic friars will investigate the science behind these practices and apply “mindfulness” and reflective learning in interactive workshops.
Mr. and Mrs. Shem Cunningham of Wichita Falls made a gift to Austin College to establish the Cunningham Lectures so that the Austin College community might benefit from the visits of distinguished speakers. Mr. Cunningham was a 1920 graduate of Austin College.
This event is co-sponsored by the Cunningham Lecture Series and ‘Live Well”–Small Steps to Wellbeing Program at Austin College. For information on this or other Marsupial Mindfulness workshops, please contact: Ivette Vargas-O’Bryan or John Williams.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with 46 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. This year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has had several opportunities to recognize the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.