Two artists, one night: piano recital and art exhibit at Metropolitan Campus


Gayathri piano

Above: Gayathri Attiken, FDU associate director of international admissions, performs in her first solo piano concert at Frank Giovatto Library Auditorium in February 2014. (Photo by Jessie Ribustello)

By Kenna Caprio

Two Fairleigh Dickinson University staff members will reveal their artistic and musical sides at an on-campus concert and exhibit in February.

Both Gayathri Attiken, associate director of international admissions, and Dan Landau, public relations assistant, will break from their day jobs on Saturday, February 7 to enhance the “campus cultural community,” says Eli Amdur, adjunct professor in Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies and co-founder of Sands of Time, an out-of-the-classroom intellectual, social and cultural experience for students, faculty and staff.

“It’s great to show that a person can have a full career working as an administrator at a university, yet also have a rich and fulfilling pastime of being a classical pianist or artist,” says Craig Mourton, assistant provost at the Metropolitan Campus and co-founder of Sands of Time.

Amdur and Mourton put together the first piano recital at Frank Giovatto Library Auditorium, featuring Attiken, in February 2014. That event also highlighted student artwork by Ran Xia, MA’14 (Metro) and Ester Paulino, BA’14 (Metro). New for 2015 is the art exhibition by Landau.

America art

Above: "America" by Dan Landau, FDU public relations assistant, will be on exhibit with 11 other pieces of Landau's artwork from February 6  17. (Image courtesy of Landau)

“As a musician myself, I’ve often lamented the lack of live music on campus. Having concerts on campus makes it much more convenient and it’s a great way to bring the campus community together,” says Mourton, who plays bass in the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, an accomplished community ensemble out of northern New Jersey. “Live music and art exhibits on campus further students’ liberal arts education.”

This year, Attiken will play selections by Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and more on the library’s Steinway piano.

Attiken put in more than 80 hours of practice time over the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. “It’s not work for me,” she says. “I learned how to listen very carefully to sounds since I was little. I enjoy listening.” She started playing the piano as a young child, but never wanted to become a professional musician. And before last year, she had never performed a full recital. “I can’t believe I’m doing it a second time,” she says nervously.

During her childhood and youth, Attiken was witness to a difficult and violent civil war in Sri Lanka. Music became a refuge. “Music has been helpful for me. It’s a place where I can get lost easily,” she says.

When Attiken is in the musical zone, she feels like the music transcends everything. “I empathize with the composers, thinking, ‘What inspired them to write this?’”

The recital program last year “was a great mix of both accessible pieces for those who have never attended a piano recital, but also substantial enough to satisfy more experienced classical music listeners,” adds Mourton.

reachingAbove: "Reaching" will be among the 12 pieces of map art that Dan Landau, FDU public relations assistant, will be displaying.  (Image courtesy of Landau) 

After the hour-long concert concludes, listeners can flow into a reception upstairs to view Landau’s art and enjoy refreshments.

Twelve pieces of art will be on display. Landau began to experiment with mixing drawing and maps to create art one year ago. “At the time I was enrolled in an online master’s program at FDU and between school and work, I was spending quite a bit of time in front of a computer each day. I wanted a creative outlet that was tactile and used physical materials instead of bits and bytes,” says Landau.

Landau draws images onto road maps, leaving the roads intact, and cutting around the roads and drawing with an X-Acto knife. These pieces can take between 20 and 60 hours to complete.

“One of the reasons I especially like working with maps is that maps symbolize connection for me — after all roads connect us to places and people. I hope that my audience sees my art and can use it make connections to ideas, whether the idea is one I expressed or not,” says Landau.

Amdur is hoping that attendees will feel as inspired by Landau and Attiken’s artistry as he has.

“There’s untold talent in our FDU community,” he says. “It would be such an incredibly wonderful thing to expose that talent. We want to do more of that. I’d love it if people would step forward and say, ‘I’m a flutist. I’m a poet. I’m in a rock band.’ Under Sands of Time, it’s perfect. Craig and I are committed to doing more of this.”

Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the recital begins promptly at 7 p.m. in Giovatto Library Auditorium. The evening starts with a pre-concert discussion. For seat reservations, contact Amdur at Landau's art will be on display from February 6 — 17.