MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


Music and Theater Arts continues to afford students at MIT the opportunity to experience the unique language and process of the arts in their integrity. The social and moral contexts of human experience also informs all our curricular and co-curricular offerings. Faculty and teaching staff help students understand art's particular demand for rigor and discipline, its non-quantitative standards of excellence and beauty. A strong, comprehensive program in both Music and Theater Arts, encompassing history, theory and performance--taught by a faculty and staff of the highest caliber whose ongoing professional activities inform their teaching--has been and will continue to be our hallmark. Because it is comprehensive, the academic program serves as a base for those who have the talent and desire to continue their education in Music or Theater beyond the undergraduate level. The Section also affirms its commitment to diversity within its disciplines and among its staff.


If one word were used to describe the Section during the past year, that word would be change, and leadership changes were among the most significant. The Section had a different temporary head each term as a rare turn of events saw Section Head, Professor Alan Brody, elevated to the position of Associate Provost for the Arts upon his return from sabbatical leave on January 1, 1996 . Professor Marcus Thompson led the Section during the fall term, while Institute Professor John Harbison served as temporary Head during the spring term. Senior Lecturer, John Oliver, conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and long-time head of the choral program within the Section, chose to take early retirement, as did our Administrative Officer of thirteen years, Nancy Cavanagh. In addition, Assistant Professor Janet Sonenberg became Acting Director of Theater Arts. The MIT concert season featured the debut performance of a new chamber ensemble, SONOS, comprised of Bayla Keyes, violin; Professor Thompson, viola; Andrés Diáz, 'cello; and Senior Lecturer David Deveau, piano. Their performance received a glowing review by The Boston Globe music critic, Richard Buell. The MIT Brass Ensemble journeyed to France during the spring break, performing concerts in St. Lô, St. Pair, Caen, Rouen, and Paris. This tour was the second part of an exchange with the Ensemble de Cuivres de Saint-Lô, who visited MIT last spring and performed with the Brass Ensemble in Kresge Auditorium. The first in a series of exchange concerts with the music faculty of Emory University in Atlanta featured seven members of the Emory Chamber Music Society in a performance of "New Music from Emory" at Kresge Auditorium.


Professor Sonenberg was presented the Everett Moore Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the annual Awards Convocation in May. This is the second year in a row that a member of the Section has won the award. Last year's recipient was Lecturer in Music Elena Ruehr. The major Institute student awards in the Arts were also captured by Music or Theater Majors. Alan Pierson '96 (Music)and Marivi Acuna '96 (Theater Arts) each received a Wiesner Award, while Jeffrey Morrow '96 (Music) was awarded the Louis Sudler Prize. Pierson and Morrow will continue their music education in graduate programs at U. Cal. Berkeley and the Eastman School of Music.


Enrollments in Music subjects climbed to their highest level yet at 1343, and Theater Arts leveled off at 306 for a total of 1649. Through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Cherry Emerson and Mr. and Mrs. G. Robert Klein, three fine, used grand pianos were purchased for our practice rooms. Seven of the eight rooms are now equipped with pianos, six with small practice grands, and one with a new upright that is moved into 4-270 each Monday for use in the large lecture for the Introduction to Western Music subject. The Section also sold two concert grand pianos and, again with help from the Emersons, was able to realize its long-planned-for goal to purchase another Steinway concert grand for Kresge Auditorium. The Roy Lamson Memorial Concert in September featured new works by MIT composers Associate Professor Evan Ziporyn, Senior Lecturer Edward Cohen, and Lecturer Elena Ruehr, all commissioned by the Council for the Arts. Guest Artist residencies that include a public performance, coachings, and lectures or lecture/demonstrations have become an important tool in providing an expanded perspective and innovative approach to both traditional and 20th century musics. Residencies by the prize-winning St. Lawrence String Quartet and the Rova Saxophone Quartet were extremely well received by students and very successful. The MIT Symphony under the direction of Professor Emeritus and Senior Lecturer David Epstein had a noteworthy season of concerts featuring MIT student soloists and the music of MIT student composers. In a concert that sold out several days in advance, Dr.William Cutter, Lecturer in Music, conducted both the MIT Symphony and the MIT Concert Choir in a moving performance of the Mozart Requium and Cantata 118 by Bach.

Theater Arts faculty were very much in evidence as directors of major student productions. Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody directed Playwrights in Performance--two evenings of one-act plays by MIT student playwrights; Professor Sonenberg directed the Dramashop's Escape from Happiness in February, while Lecturer Michael Ouellette directed the same group's performance of Medea. In a performance that combined the talents of student musicians and actors, Gamelan Galak Tika, our Balinese percussion orchestra, provided the music for theater arts' Shakespeare Ensemble in a strikingly original version of Shakespeare's The Tempest.


Prodigious productivity marked the activities of our faculty this year, but none was more productive than Professor Harbison who premiered five of his compositions in locations around the world, one of which--San Antonio, a Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano--was premiered in 77 locations at the same time. In addition, 6 CDs of his music were released under 5 different labels; four compositions were published; four commissions awarded, including one from the Metropolitan Opera for a full-length opera; and he was appointed President of the prestigious Copland Fund and a member of the Advisory board of the National Young Composers Competition. Professor Brody 's play The Housewives of Mannheim won the Best Play of 1995 award from the Live Oak Theater Festival in Austin, Texas, and he was also invited to conduct acting workshops at the fourth Annual Festival of European Schools of Theater. Professor Lowell Lindgren delivered a major paper and chaired the closing 18th-century session of Relazioni musicali tra Italia e Germania nell'eta barocca at the Six th International Convention, Antiquae Musicae Italicae Stuidiosi of Como. His book, Fifteen Violoncello Sonatas by Antonio Maria Bononcini ,was published by A-R Editions, and he also completed six review essays for a number of publications. Associate Professor Martin Marks chaired sessions at the Annual Meetings of the Sonneck society for American Music and the American Musicological Society. He continued to be in great demand as a Lecturer/Performer at screenings of silent films at the Harvard Film Archive, Boston University, and Brandeis University. Professor Sonenberg's book The Actor Speaks, an exploration of the creative process, was published by Crown Publishers, Inc. Instructor Thomas DeFrantz had his feature article, "The Black Body in Question" published by Village Voice, and he presented papers at the Congress on Research in Dance in Miami, the Performance Studies Conference at Northwestern University and the Congress on Research in Dance Special Topics Conference at Champaign-Urbana.


The Section continued its commitment to diversity of faculty and programs with the hiring of James K. Makubuya as Assistant Professor of Music. Professor Makubuya is a specialist in the music of his native Uganda and will expand an ethnomusicology program that already includes musics of India and Indonesia when he comes on board next fall. Peter Child was promoted to Full Professor and will serve as Section Head for the next three years; Professor Sonenberg was appointed Director of Theater Arts, replacing Professor Brody; Pamela S. Wood was appointed Senior Lecturer in Music; and John H. Lyons will become the Section Administrative Officer, all as of July 1. Lecturer in Theater Arts Kermit Dunkleberg, who has served as Director of the Shakespeare Ensemble for the past several years, leaves to complete his Ph.D.; and the Section bid farewell to Administrative Assistant Jane White who left to become Professor Brody's Assistant in the Provost's Office.

John Harbison

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96