“WAMFEST 2014: The Illuminated Word” to feature Salman Rushdie and Neil Gaiman

Madison, NJ (September 25, 2014) — Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Words and Music Festival (WAMFEST) returns with another blockbuster lineup of a wide variety of world-class artists from Wednesday, October 15 through Friday, October 17.
The schedule features award-winning filmmaker Neil Burger, celebrated author Neil Gaiman, pen and ink artist Michael Arthur, graphic artist Stefan Bucher, celebrated author Salman Rushdie, award-winning poet J. Mae Barizo, composer Paul Cantelon, and the world-famous American String Quartet.  As always, all events will be hosted by songwriter/novelist Wesley Stace, formerly known as John Wesley Harding.
WAMFEST begins on Wednesday, October 15, with a screening Burger’s film “Limitless” at 2 p.m. followed by an interview with Burger at 5p.m. in Hartman Lounge.   On Thursday, “The Illuminated Word: A Conversation with Neil Gaiman”  takes place in Lenfell Hall at 4 p.m. This event will be live-drawn by Arthur. On Friday, join us for “The Art of Illumination: a Conversation with Michael Arthur and Stefan Bucher” at 2 p.m. in Dreyfuss Room 125.  At 6 p.m., join us for “Memory Palace: Music Meets the Page”, a world-premier performance by Salman Rushdie, J. Mae Barizo, Paul Cantelon, and the American String Quartet.
Salman Rushdie is perhaps the most recognizable and respected literary figure in the world.   His eleven novels have been translated into forty languages and have won a dazzling number of major prizes.   The publication of “The Satanic Verses” created a major international controversy, provoking death threats that forced him into years of hiding.   In 2007, Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
Neil Gaiman is credited with being one of the creators of modern comics, as well as an author whose work crosses genres and reaches audiences of all ages.  He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama. His more than 30 books include “The Sandman”, “Neverwhere”, “The Graveyard Book”, “Good Omens”, and “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”.  His film and television credits include “Coraline”, “Doctor Who”, “Neverwhere”, among many others.   Currently, his most recent book, “Hansel and Gretel” is being developed for a live-action feature by Steven Spielberg.
Filmmaker Neil Burger most recently directed the 2014 hit “Divergent,” based on the novel by Veronica Roth.  His previous credits include “Limitless,” starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, which opened number one at the box office and grossed over $160 million worldwide; and the critically acclaimed “The Illusionist” starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel. Burger based his screenplay for the film on the short story “Eisenheim the Illusionist” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser.  
The American String Quartet, internationally recognized as one of the world’s finest quartets, has spent decades honing the luxurious sound for which it is famous. The Quartet will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2014, and, in its years of touring, has performed in all fifty states and has appeared in the most important concert halls worldwide. Their presentations of the complete quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Bartók, and Mozart have won widespread critical acclaim, and their MusicMasters Complete Mozart String Quartets, performed on a matched quartet set of instruments by Stradivarius, are widely considered to have set the standard for this repertoire.  Resident quartet at the Aspen Music Festival since 1974 and at the Manhattan School of Music in New York since 1984, the American has also served as resident quartet at the Taos School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The Quartet’s diverse activities have also included numerous international radio and television broadcasts; including a recording for the BBC in May 2012; tours of Asia; and performances with the New York City Ballet, the Montreal Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Highlights of the Quartet’s 2013-14 season include performances of an all-sextet program with Roberto and Andrès Díaz, a tour of South America, and performances of the complete Beethoven cycle of string quartets in Israel – the ensemble’s fourth visit to the country in as many years. The American’s additional extensive discography can be heard on the Albany, CRI, MusicMasters, Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch, and RCA labels. Most recently the group released “Schubert’s Echo,” which pairs Schubert’s monumental last quartet with works bearing its influence by Second Viennese masters Alban Berg and Anton Webern.  The Quartet’s innovative approach to concert programming has won them a number of notable residencies in recent years, including “Beethoven the Contemporary” at the University of Michigan, “The Six Mozart Viola Quintets” at the Aspen Music Festival with Guarneri Quartet violist Michael Tree (broadcast live nationally via Chicago superstation WFMT), and a four-year cycle entitled “4-5-6…” at Princeton University, where the Quartet performed the complete quintets and sextets of Mozart and Brahms, joined in each concert by renowned guest artists.  In 2013 they collaborated with Mark Morris Dance Group in performances in Ojai and Berkeley, CA.
Michael Arthur, a pen and ink artist, uses no pencils or rough drafts in his work. Each drawing is a live reaction to the moment. He is the archival artist at Joe's Pub in New York, the rehearsal artist for La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego and the town draw-er in Balthrop, Alabama.
Stefan Bucher runs 344 Design, a full service design and illustration studio that Bucher calls “my creative home and my corporate respectability forcefield.” He has designed and illustrated everything from promotional posters, to books, to animated music videos. Bucher is the creator of the popular online series “Daily Monster” and has authored and illustrated two books.
Paul Cantelon, born in Los Angeles, California, started his musical career as a violinist, making his debut at the age of thirteen at Royce Hall.  At fifteen, Paul started his studies with legendary pianist Vlado Perelemuter, at the Paris Conservatory and began his concert career as a pianist. After a very serious bicycle accident at seventeen, which left him in a coma for a month only to emerge with significant amnesia, Paul began what would prove to be a most unusual evolution as a composer. He signed a recording contract with Capitol Records and released a solo piano record of Celtic hymns titled, “In the Morning Early”.  After studying at the Juilliard School and Trinity College, Cambridge, Paul began extensive touring in the Far East in support of his second solo piano record of all original compositions titled, “Paul Cantelon Solo Piano” for the Nippon Columbia label.
In the early 90’s, Paul formed the eclectic band, Wild Colonials, with singer, Angela McCluskey, recording two albums for Geffen Records and performing with such artists as Joe Cocker, The Kinks, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, George Clinton, Rickie Lee Jones, King Crimson and Ry Cooder.  World-renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma, recently accompanied Paul for an exclusive performance of Paul’s original compositions, as well as works from the standard cello/piano repertoire.  In 2005, Paul began his venture into film with Liev Schreiber’s “Everything Is Illuminated.”  He went on to score such films as the award winning “Diving Bell And The Butterfly” (2007), Sony Pictures’ “The Other Boleyn Girl” (2008), Oliver Stone’s “W.” (2008), “New York, I Love You” (2009), Tony Goldwyn’s “Conviction” (2010), “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel” (2011), “Woody Allen: A Documentary” (2012), Oscar Winner Geoffrey Fletcher’s upcoming release “Violet & Daisy,” and “Effie Gray,” the upcoming feature written by and starring Emma Thompson.  Paul has also recently contributed original music to Jonathan Demme’s interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s “The Master Builder,” called “Fear Of Falling.”
J. Mae Barizo is a prize-winning poet and cultural critic. She is a 2014 Poet's House fellow. Recent work appears in the “Los Angeles Review of Books,” “Boston Review,” “Hyperallergic,” “Paris Review Online,” “NYLON magazine,” “Denver Quarterly,” among others.  She is the founding editor of “FIELDS” press, and “The Aviary,” a lit-quarterly dedicated to artist interviews and literary criticism.  Phillip Lopate wrote that Barizo's “exquisite poems display throughout a mastery of poetic form and a thoroughly professional command of surface and tone.  It is clear we are in the hands of a highly cultivated, intelligent writer.”  A classically trained musician and a champion of cross-genre work, J. Mae has performed sound/text collaborations with musicians from The National, Bon Iver, and the American String Quartet. As a musician she has performed with Mark Morris Dance Group, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Kanye West and Pharrell, among others.  Her book, “The Cumulus Effect” is forthcoming in 2015.   
Wesley Stace is a critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter and novelist. He has released fifteen music albums, ranging in style from folk to pop, most under the stage name John Wesley Harding. He has also published three novels under the name of Wesley Stace.
WAMFEST is open to the public, free of charge. All are required to register at www.myfdu.net/wamfest14. Space is limited.
WAMFEST is an annual series of unique conversations, collaborations, and performances hosted by FDU that attempts to break down barriers between different genres in the arts, particularly between what are considered “high” and “low” arts, and to celebrate what is shared among all artists and all audiences.  Recent guests have included, among many others, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Pinsky, Rosanne Cash, Paul Muldoon, Jonathan Demme, and Talib Kweli.  WAMFEST has recently been singled out for recognition of its groundbreaking programming by the National Endowment for the Arts.
WAMFEST is extremely grateful for the generous support of Bob and Patricia Pures, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Morris Arts.
For questions or further information, please contact WAMFEST creator and producer, David Daniel, at ddaniel@fdu.edu.  Also, please see wamfest.wordpress.com for a detailed history of our programming.
Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham is located at 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, N.J.

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