An evening of interviews, presentations, and performances exploring music's role as an inspiration for combat and as a form of soldier expression.
Featuring Jonathan Pieslak, music theorist and composer, author of Sound TargetsThe Rest is Noise; Colby Buzzell, Former Army SPC and best-selling author of My War: Killing Time in Iraq; and Jason Sagebiel, guitarist and composer, and former Marine SGT.
Colby Buzzell is an army specialist, author of My War and a blogger.
Buzzell grew up in California and enlisted in the
United States Army at the age of 26. He joined the service as an infantryman and spent 2003 in Iraq, assigned to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
It was in Iraq that Buzzell began publishing a blog under the title "CBFTW" as a replacement for his habitual journaling back in the States. The blog gained popularity quickly, because as an anonymous soldier-blogger Buzzell was able to share more lucid experiences than an embedded journalist, and he was also able to share a bit more of the truth than the Army was able to.
Colby published a book on his experiences entitled, My War: Killing Time in Iraq combining narrative, blog entries, and emails that evolved from his blog over time.
Jonathan Pieslak is a music theorist and composer. His areas of research interest include critical theory, rhythm and meter in metal music, and music and war. As composer, Jonathan was awarded a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006, and he has also been recognized with awards and commissions from the Jerome Foundation, American Composers Forum, MacDowell Colony, among others.
Alex Ross began writing for The New Yorker in 1993 and became the magazine’s music critic in 1996. He is the author of "The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century," which won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism and a Guardian First Book Award, and "Listen to This."
Composer and Guitarist Jason Sagebiel is an active performer in the New York City area. He has served in an administrative capacity for many musical organizations and is currently Director of the Queens Guitar Society. Jason is authoring The Iraqi Book, a collection of stories, poetry, photos, and essays about his experiences with the Iraqi people while he served as a USMC Scout-Sniper in Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his time in Iraq, Jason studied the ud with Ali-Hussein Jabir and is now collaborating with musicians and poets in Iraq.
Jason Sagebiel, a Marine scout-sniper during Operation Iraqi Freedom, recounts how he occupied his down time in country by learning to play the oud from a local musician. The two would exchange music lessons using stolen Saddam Hussein letterhead.
Brief conflict in 2003 between Iraq and a combined force of troops largely from the U.S. and Great Britain; and a subsequent U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and protracted Iraqi armed insurgency against it. The trade embargo and weapons-inspection process that the UN imposed on Iraq following the Persian Gulf War (199091) had partly fallen into abeyance by 2001. U.S. Pres. George W. Bush argued that the September 11 attacks on the U.S. in that same year highlighted the threat to U.S. security posed by hostile countries such as Iraq. In November 2002 the UN issued Security Council Resolution 1441 demanding that Iraq readmit weapons inspectors and comply with all previous resolutions. Although inspectors did return to Iraq, Bush and Blair declared in early 2003 (despite objections by many world leaders) that Iraq was continuing to hinder UN inspections and that it still retained proscribed weapons. On March 20 the U.S. and Britain (with smaller troop contingents from other countries) launched a series of air attacks on Iraq, and a ground invasion followed. Iraqi forces were rapidly defeated, and on April 9 U.S. forces took control of the capital, Baghdad. British forces completed their occupation of the southern city of Al-Basrah the same day, and by May 1 the major combat operations of the invasion had been completed. However, the U.S. and other occupying forces were soon embroiled in escalating guerrilla warfare in Iraq that hindered Iraq's recovery and killed thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians. The war, long opposed by many throughout the world, also became increasingly unpopular in the U.S.