Wesleyan names musician Rani Arbo campus, community engagement head

MIDDLETOWN — A 20-year city resident and longtime musician was appointed Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts campus and community engagement manager late last month.

Prior to joining the Center for the Arts on an interim basis in October 2016, Rani Arbo spent seven months coordinating the Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter festival in May 2016, according to the university. She was a vocal music teacher for the Center for Creative Youth in 2017, and a fellow in the College of the Environment during the 2014-15 academic year.

Originally from New York City, Arbo holds a bachelor of arts in English and geology from Amherst College, where she previously was an outreach coordinator. Arbo also works as a band leader and manager, freelance writer and editor, according to a press release.

In Middletown, she has served as the founder and director of the Middletown Community Chorus since 2015.

The Middletown Commission on the Arts selected Arbo as one of two inaugural Music Ambassadors in 2014.

Since the ambassador project’s inception, the city’s on-hold music now plays tunes written and recorded by local singer-songwriters instead of traditional elevator music callers would normally hear while holding the line.

Arbo has been a musician since she was a little girl, she told the Press in 2014. “I sing, play fiddle and write songs. I have been playing with an Americana roots-style bands for 25 years [Daisy Mayhem] and singing since I was a 7-year-old church chorister in New York City, where I grew up.”

Arbo also helped coordinate the Main Street Stroll last September. The event offered a New Orleans-style sidewalk parade and 42 other events — ranging from jazz, classic, folk and Americana concerts, craft making and open houses to hip-hop, kung fu, bicycle rides and magic.

Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts works to support the research, public productions, and in-studio teaching needs of the departments of Art and Art History, Dance, Music, and Theater, according to its website. It also leads inter-disciplinary collaborations and other initiatives that integrate artists into creative curricular and co-curricular initiatives.

The Center for the Arts opened in the fall of 1973, and includes the Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall, the 400-seat Crowell Concert Hall, the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, the 260-seat Ring Family Performing Arts Hall, the 400-seat Theater, the World Music Hall (a non-Western performance space), and classrooms and studios.

For information, call 860-685-3355 or visit wesleyan.edu/cfa.