MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Music and Theater Arts Section

Academic Year 1994-95 has been marked by some of the most important honors and achievements in the history of Music and Theater Arts and MIT, itself. Shortly after delivering the 1995 Killian lecture, Professor John Harbison was appointed Institute Professor giving MIT its first representative from the Arts in that prestigious company. Professor Marcus Thompson became both the inaugural recipient of the Robert R. Taylor Professorship for minority faculty and a 1994-95 MacVicar Teaching Fellow. Lecturer Elena Ruehr was awarded the 1995 Baker Teaching Award. Our students virtually swept the field of arts awards and figured prominently in Institute-wide citizenship awards: The Laya Weisner Award went to Theater Major Maribel Delfaus, '95; Music Students Solomon Douglas '96 and Alan Pierson, '96 received Eloranta Scholarships; the Laya and Jerome Weisner Awards for achievement in the Arts went to Music Major Edward Kohler, '95; another went to the entire Board of the Dramashop; the coveted Sudler Award went to Music Major Erin McCoy, '95; and Theater Majors Paulo Pereira, '95 and Ivana Komarcevic, '96 took first and second place in the Boit Manuscript Prizes for Drama.

Enrollments continued to thrive, limited only by the current size of our faculty and staff. With many students having to be turned away from oversubscribed subjects, the year's figures still totaled 1666--1320 for Music and 346 for Theater Arts. Including the graduating class of '95, the Section served eighteen majors in Music and eleven in Theater Arts. Twenty-four students in Music and thirteen in Theater Arts either declared or completed minors. Ninety students in Music and thirty-one in Theater Arts completed concentrations in 1995.

Indications of major changes in faculty and teaching staff became apparent in 1994-95. Late in the year, Professor David Epstein announced his retirement, and the faculty approved a search during 1996 for a junior appointment in music. Lecturer David Deveau was approved for a Senior Lectureship, adding an important figure to our performance staff, and Senior Lecturer John Oliver was reappointed for another five year term.

The Section is particularly pleased with its progress in affirmative action. Dr. Brenda Cotto-Escalera has been appointed Assistant Professor of Theater Arts beginning in 1995-96, and Thomas DeFrantz has been appointed Instructor in Theater Arts under the Provost's Initiative for Women and Minorities. He will be eligible to join the faculty as Assistant Professor in 1996-97 upon completion of his PhD. This means that 4 women, including one Hispanic, and 7 men including one Black comprise the Professorial Staff; 2 women, including one Black, and three men, including one Black, are either Lecturers or Instructors. Both of our administrative staff are women, one of whom is Hispanic. The evidence of growing diversity among students in the Section was marked, as well, with the successful production of Puerto-Rican playwright Luis Rafael Sanchez' Quintuples performed in Spanish, 3 Hispanic students declaring majors either in Music or Theater Arts, the continuing growth of the Gamelan Ensemble which performed this spring with Bang on a Can at Alice Tully Hall in New York, and the appearance of many more Black students in our ensembles and productions. This year also marked the successful formation of MITHAS (MIT Heritage of the Arts of Southasia) under the leadership of Lecturer George Ruckert.

One of the major events of the year was the world premiere of the dramatic oratorio, Reckoning Time: A Song of Walt Whitman, which was performed by the John Oliver Chorale at Jordan Hall in March. This represented a three-way collaboration between Associate Professor Peter Child, composer; Professor Alan Brody, librettist; and Senior Lecturer Oliver, conductor of the Chorale. It also included a leading performance by Theater Arts Lecturer Michael Ouellette, and publicity and program designs by Edward Kohler, '95. With the support of the Office of the Arts and the Abramowitz Lecture Series, the year also saw two highly successful residencies in Music, one by the Endellion Quartet, the other by composer Steve Reich. In a collaboration between Women's Studies and Theater Arts, Assistant Professor Janet Sonenberg was among the major movers of the residency of Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner.

Faculty activities continued to range from traditional publications to productions, premieres and performances. Professor Epstein published his major work, Shaping Time: Music, the Brain, and Performance with Schirmer Books, as well as lecturing on Brain, Music and Evolution at the Manfred Eigen Seminar in Switzerland. Professor Harbison saw three more world premieres of his work, Chorale Cantata with Dawn Upshaw, soprano at the 92nd Street Y in New York, Trio Sonata with the Oakwood Chamber Players in Madison, Wisconsin, and Fourteen Fabled Folksongs as a part of the Killian Lecture here at MIT. Professor Thompson performed as soloist for Martin Luther King Day with the Atlanta Symphony, as well as with the Anchorage Symphony, the New England Philharmonic, and at the International Viola Congress. Professor Brody saw another production of his play, The Company of Angels, at Theater Emory in Atlanta, appeared as the Narrator of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait with the Boston Pops, and was the recipient of a playwright's grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. In addition to the world premiere of Reckoning Time, Professor Child heard his Sing Song Merry Diggle: A Playground Cantata, premiered by the Boston Musica Viva and Youth Pro Musica at the Tsai Performance Center. His chamber piece, Ensemblance was featured in the Fromm Foundation Concert Series at Harvard and Columbia, at Jordan Hall, and with the New England Conservatory Contemporary Ensemble.

Junior faculty, as well, have been extraordinarily productive. Two new articles by Associate Professor Martin Marks, "Music in Silent Cinema," and "Music and Sound Film to 1960" will appear this year in OUP's A History of the Cinema, 1895-1995; "Music, Drama, Warner Brothers: The Case of Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon," in the Michigan Quarterly; and his book, Music and Silent Film: Contexts and Case Studies, 1895-1924, is currently in press with Oxford University Press. He has also appeared as silent film accompanist in major performances at the Harvard Film Archive, the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Assistant Professor Evan Ziporyn saw no less that 5 premieres of his works, "Perques," "Houtman's Men in Bulelang," "Aneh Tapi Nyata," "Tire Fire" and arrangements of works by Hermeto Pascoal. His work as a performer, composer and leader/arranger with Bang on a Can continued with a recording, Industry, for SONY records, and appearances at Tanglewood, the UC San Diego, the Lincoln Center Great Performance Series, Kampnagel in Hamburg, Paradiso in Amsterdam, and the Ubersee Museum in Bremen.

We should like to express particular appreciation to Professor Ellen Harris for her significant support of Section needs during the six years of her tenure as Associate Provost for the Arts. We wish her a productive sabbatical year and look forward to her joining our faculty in FY 96.

Alan Brody

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95