At the Academy: A roundup of free events

At the Academy: Music from around the world; evolution of the brain; climate change

2014-03-06T00:00:00Z At the Academy: Music from around the world; evolution of the brain; climate change Arizona Daily Star
March 06, 2014 12:00 am
Tuesday

Saxophonist, pianist team up for global-themed concert

Jonathan Wintringham, described by American Record Guide as “a major force in the saxophone world,” returns to the Arizona Senior Academy at Academy Village at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to present a program of music from around the world.

With him will be Elena Miraztchiyska, a University of Arizona graduate student from Bulgaria who last month accompanied trombonist Moisés Paiewonsky at the Arizona Senior Academy.

Miraztchiyska, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, graduate in piano performance, won first prize in the 2007 National Music Teacher’s Association Young Artist Piano Competition and was awarded a Steinway grand piano. She is the first woman ever to be awarded this prize from Steinway & Sons.

Wintringham is an advocate of contemporary music, working with composers to commission and perform new works. The program planned for Tuesday promises novelty and variety, including classical and contemporary works, while playing out the theme “Saxophone: Around the World.”

Wintringham and Miraztchiyska will begin with a “Rapsodie Bretonne” by Robert Bariller followed by a solo “Partita” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The program also will include “Sonata” by William Albright, “March and Dance” by Edvard Grieg, “Sonata” by Johannes Brahms and the “Fuzzy Bird Sonata” by Takashi Yoshimatsu.

A former UA student, Wintringham had his professional debut at age 17 and has given recitals, master classes and residencies throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Japan. He is pursuing a master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.

Janet Kerans

Wednesday 

Do humans and beetles

share brain functions?

When scientists talk about the evolution of the brain, they often disagree over whether brain functions evolved separately in living creatures that have brains, or whether they were inherited from a common ancestor.

Nicholas J. Strausfeld, director of the Center for Insect Science and a Regents’ Professor of neuroscience at the University of Arizona, favors the common-ancestor theory.

Strausfeld discussed that theory in the opening lecture of the UA College of Science’s annual Science Lecture Series, whose theme this year is “The Evolving Brain.” The six weekly lectures conclude Monday at Centennial Hall on the UA Campus.

A recording of his lecture, “Time Traveling: What Our Brains Share With Beetle Brains,” will be shown on the big screen at the Arizona Senior Academy at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

As in past years, the Arizona Senior Academy is bringing these lectures — live or via podcast — to east-side audiences free of charge.

Strausfeld’s belief in the theory of a common ancestor, known in scientific circles as “homology,” is shared by many evolutionary biologists but disputed by most neuroscientists.

A fossil discovery Strausfeld made in 2012 has bolstered the homology scenario and made the UA professor a sought-after speaker at scientific gatherings.

The fossil of a now-extinct arthropod shows evidence of a brain that may have already evolved, 520 million years ago, to segment into three parts corresponding to the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain in humans.

“Lots of people don’t like that idea, sharing a brain with a beetle, but there’s good evidence suggesting that you do,” Strausfeld said in an Arizona Daily Star interview last month. “If you compare our behavior with that of the dung beetle, you find some very interesting similarities.”

Mike Maharry

Next Thursday

Will climate change affect Saguaro

National Park’s cactus forest?

Jeff Wallner, a park guide at Saguaro National Park East, has been observing the human and natural cycles at the park, one of the most celebrated and studied cactus areas in the world, for 20 years.

He says that over the years the cycles of this spectacular resource have changed from wonder to worry as the older saguaros died off, then to guarded optimism as a new generation sprouted in the 1980s and ’90s.

Wallner will share his observations in a lecture titled “The Changing Cactus Forest” next Thursday at the Arizona Senior Academy.

His talk will range over the last 80 years of protection and change in this iconic forest, then explore the latest scientific speculation on the next 80 years as the earth’s changing climate presents new challenges to Saguaro and our other national parks. He will also examine the Sonoran Desert’s biggest current challenge, the invasive fire-adapted buffelgrass.

Wallner’s roots as a naturalist go back to New Hampshire, where he studied natural resource management and environmental communication. He earned an advanced degree from Antioch University New England graduate school.

Before coming here, he was education director for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit conservation groups.

At Saguaro National Park East he gives guided walks and talks, designs interpretive signs and publications, operates the Visitor Center and oversees youth-oriented programs for the Junior Ranger Camp and the Cactus Ranger volunteer group.

What does a park ranger do in his spare time? Wallner visits national parks — in this case 365 of the 401 units in the National Park system so far.

Betty Feinberg

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