Friends Friday: Barrett Caldwell

Welcome to Friends Friday! While we are all trying to “flatten the curve” we wanted to highlight different Friends of Convos. In case you’re not aware, Friends of Convos is an influential group of arts supporters who bring world-class performances to our community! Each year, they help bring performances to our community and subsidize tickets for seniors, Purdue students, and P-12 students.
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This week we’re highlighting Friend Barrett Caldwell!

Introduce Yourself!
I’m a professor in Industrial Engineering at Purdue, with a focus in human factors and systems engineering.  My laboratory, known as the Group Performance Environments Research (GROUPER) Lab, studies how people get, share, and use information in complex settings (like spaceflight and healthcare: we have literally done rocket science and brain injury work).  I’ve been at Purdue for 20 years now, and Director of the NASA-funded Indiana Space Grant Consortium nearly all of that time.  I am a big sports fan, including a season ticket holder for football and women’s basketball; I even saw Leroy Keyes play for the Philadelphia Eagles when I was growing up.   

How did you become a Friend? 
This is surprisingly easy to place a specific date.  I grew up in a household where my parents listened to a lot of jazz, and so Dave Brubeck was one of the giants during my childhood of a more relaxed style of jazz that I could enjoy.  When he played at Loeb in 2009 (Nov 7), I knew I had to go—he was already almost 89—and during intermission, I learned that if I became a Friend, I could get one of the flyers / posters of the concert.  I joined on the spot, and have been a Friend ever since.

How has your experience in our community been impacted by Convos?
I have felt that my participation in Convos has taught me, and injected me, much more completely about and into the Greater Lafayette community.  I live in Lafayette, and Convos has been part of my experience of connecting the non-faculty experience of people who live here, and who enjoy the rich arts and music community even if they are not directly employed by Purdue.

What was your favorite show this season (or past) and why?
This is a really hard question—much harder than how I became a Friend.  I really enjoyed the return visit of Oxford Playhouse for One Small Step; it was more of an extra treat to actually be on stage during one of the performances.  Akademie für Alte Musik was great: I really love Baroque music, and that was fantastic acoustics as well as program.  Artemis and Stefon Harris were very different styles of jazz to me, but also powerful and extremely skilled.  Black Violin was really special for me, not just because of the music, but their message for kids to follow one’s passion, even if it’s not “cool”.  (It was an honor for me to help sponsor that concert.).  Further back… Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, the Knights, BB King, Celtic Woman, Something Rotten, Orlando Consort, Esperanza Spalding… there have been “favorites” every year for the past decade.

Who would you love to see Convos bring to campus?
I admit to a bias here.  One of my high school classmates is founder and music director for Tempeste di Mare, a baroque group focusing on Fasch.  More early music and baroque in general is good.  Jumping around genres, I would enjoy listening to Fiona Ritchie (Thistle and Shamrock) host a show from here.  My son is an electronic musician (performs and records as Skwirl / Shido: see ), but I’m not just thinking about him—some of the downtempo artists he and I enjoy a lot are Bonobo, Boards of Canada, Fila Brazillia, Craig Padilla, Röyksopp, Thievery Corporation (not just downtempo), Zero 7…