Wren Elhai '08 Named Watson Fellow

Stacey Kutish

Wren Elhai '08 Named Watson Fellow

by Stacey Kutish
03/25/2008

Wren Elhai has been named a Watson Fellow for 2008-2009. Elhai's Watson Fellowship project is entitled "Who Needs Instruments? Mouth Music and Vocal Imitation." He will spend his fellowship year studying traditions of vocal music that use the voice to imitate sounds found in nature, or to replace instruments.

He plans to travel to the Russian Republic of Tuva, South Africa, Hungary, Scotland, and England in order to study with local musicians-sing with them, record their music, and talk with them about the significance of their vocal traditions. Elhai has sung since childhood, and has explored vocal percussion in his experiences with a cappella music. "Spending a year learning about the different ways people use their voices seemed the perfect way to explore the world," said Elhai.

Elhai, a political science major and Russian minor at Swarthmore, serves as the musical director for Sixteen Feet, Swarthmore's all-male a cappella group. He is also a founding member of War News Radio, a student-produced weekly news program that focuses on personal accounts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Watson Fellowship provides $25,000 for a full year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. Begun in 1968, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program identifies prospective leaders in education and world affairs.

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