MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


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.


The year began with Professor Peter Child taking over as Section head for a three year term. Assistant Professor Janet Sonenberg became Director of Theater Arts, a position she began as Acting Director the previous semester when Professor Alan Brody became Associate Provost for the Arts. October saw a performance of the dramatic oratorio Reckoning Time: A Song of Walt Whitman, with music by Professor Child, libretto by Professor Brody and conducted by Senior Lecturer John Oliver. The performance was in honor of Senior Lecturer Oliver upon his retirement from MIT. In December Music and Theater Arts hosted a successful visit by the Corporation Visiting Committee. December also saw the first performance of MITCAN, the MIT African Performance Ensemble, under the direction of Assistant Professor James Makubuya. In February the Sections new Harpsichord, from the premier builder Eric Herz, was officially dedicated in Killian Hall with the premier performance of things that flow, a work by Christopher Adler, MIT `94. The Endellion String Quartet, in residency in April of 1995, returned for another successful week of performances and master classes this past April. The chamber ensemble SONOS, comprised of Bayla Keyes, violin; Professor Marcus Thompson, viola; Andrés Diáz, `cello; and Senior Lecturer David Deveau, piano, continued their collaboration with another well received performance in April.


Professor Ellen Harris received the Class of 1949 Professorship Chair. Professor Lowell Lindgren became a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT and received the Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award from Harvard University. Theater Arts Lecturer Michael Ouellette received the Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize for excellence in the creative arts. Grant Ho `97 (Minor in Music and receipient of the Advanced Music Performance Scholarship) received the Louis Sudler prize and Solomon Douglas `97 (Major in Music) received a Wiesner Award.


Enrollments in Music subjects dropped slightly this year to 1268 while Theater climbed slightly to 407 for a total of 1673. Thanks to a major gift from Brad and Dorothea Endicott, work is well under way on the renovation of space in the MIT Museum building to accommodate our burgeoning World Music Program. The World Music Room will house our Gamelan and African instrument collection and be a combined rehearsal and performance space for the Gamelan, the African Performance Ensemble (MITCAN) and MITHAS (MIT Heritage of the Arts of Southeast Asia). Funded by the Council for the Arts at MIT an evening of music by Professor and Section Head Peter Child was presented in February featuring performances by three of the Sections Performance Scholarship receipients, Asher Davison, Susan Shi and Grant Ho. The MIT Symphony Orchestra 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.

Theater Arts faculty and visiting scholars were active as directors of major student productions. Scott T. Cummings, Visiting Scholar with Shakespeare and Company, directed Two Gentlemen of Verona in October. Lecturer Ouellette directed Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing with The Dramashop for its IAP production in January. Tina Packer, Visiting Scholar with Shakespeare and Company, directed The Life and Death of King John in March. Associate Provost Brody directed Playwrights in Performance in two evenings of one-act plays by MIT student playwrights.


The level of productivity by our faculty remained high. Professor Thompson toured extensively with the Boston Chamber Music Society and performed at numerous festivals in Alaska, Washington, Colorado and New Mexico. Associate Professor Evan Ziporyn premiered his new work Amok for 25 piece Balinese Gamelan in April. He also toured with Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Steve Reich Ensemble in Italy, Israel and the U.S. Associate Professor Martin Marks saw publication of his book Music and the Silent Film:Contexts and Case Studies 1895-1924 by Oxford University Press. Professor Marks also performed his own piano score for the rarely seen Russian film Nail in the Boot at the Harvard Film Archive and performed the original piano score for the German silent film Metropolis at a seminar on film music in Los Angeles, California. Professor Harris became Associate Editor of Musical Quarterly, presented 3 papers at Aston Magna Academy and in May made her solo debut with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Professor Lindgren delivered a paper at the Internationales Wissenschaftliches Kolloquium at the Göttinger, Germany, Händel-Festspiele 1997. Senior Lecturer Deveau had a second successful season as Director of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival. Professor Child was a featured composer at the Computer Arts Festival in Padua, Italy, in April where the Italian new music group Interensemble performed his Ensemblance for chamber ensemble with computer generated tape. This coincided with the release of the groups CD recording of Professor Child's work on the Rivoalto label. Institue Professor John Harbison conducted performances of Handel's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso ed il Moderato with the Mark Morris Dance Company in Los Angeles, California. He conducted at the Dallapiccola Festival at Smith College and a performance with Dawn Upshaw at Carnegie Hall in April. Two new works by Professor Harbison were premiered this year, Emerson, with the Cantata Singers in Boston and Olympic Dances with the Pilobolus Dance Company in Athens, Georgia. Other works received performances by the Baltimore, Milwaukee and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras. Professor Sonenberg presented a paper at the International Theater University Association Congress in Montreal on Dreamwork Process, the research for her book in progress Threshold of the Unconscious. Senior Lecturer Pamela Wood had solo performances with the Concord Choral Society, the Neponset Choral Society and Opera Longy. She was also an adjudicator for the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Competition at New England Conservatory of Music. Lecturer Mark Harvey saw the release of his third CD Psalms and Elegies containing four of his compositions performed by his group the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra.


Professor Ziporyn received tenure, Professor Sonenberg was promoted to Associate Professor without tenure and Lecturers George Ruckert and Michael Ouellette were both appointed as Senior Lecturers, all effective on July 1, 1997. Lecturer Elena Ruehr was reappointed for a three year term also effective July 1. Instructor Thomas DeFrantz completed his Ph.D and will be appointed Assistant Professor of Theater Arts July 1. Senior Lecturer Beth Soll leaves the department as of July 1 and will join the faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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Peter Child

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97