MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


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.


This year was the second under the leadership of Professor Peter Child as Section Head and of Associate Professor Janet Sonenberg as Director of Theater Arts. The music faculty completed a search for a new Music Director of the MIT Symphony Orchestra and selected Dante Anzolini, who will join the faculty as Assistant Professor on July 1. Opening ceremonies for the Endicott World Music Center took place during the 25th annual meeting of the Council for the Arts at MIT. The Center, a place of acoustic and aesthetic beauty, is already extensively used for world music classes and rehearsals, and for the storage of our African and Balinese instruments. Major performances this year included the January premier of The Housewives of Mannheim by Professor of Theater and Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody at the Boston Playwrights Theater. Assistant Professor Brenda Cotto-Escalera directed Motherlands at the Theater Offensive at the Boston Center for the Arts. The chamber ensemble SONOS, comprised of Bayla Keyes, violin; Professor Marcus Thompson, viola; Michael Richards, `cello; and Senior Lecturer David Deveau, piano, presented a highly acclaimed performance of the three Piano Quartets of Brahms in June at Jordan Hall. A February piano recital by Senior Lecturer Deveau included music by Institute Professor John Harbison and a premiere by Professor Child. Assistant Professor James Makubuya gave his MIT debut as a professional performer of East African music with the Kiyira ensemble. MIT alumnus and internationally renowned cellist Carlos Prieto `59 returned to MIT to present a lecture-demonstration about the Bach `Cello Suites and the history of the `cello.


Professor Harbison was awarded one of the five annual Heinz awards by the Heinz Family Foundation. Class of 1949 Professor Ellen Harris was awarded membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Professor Makubuya was awarded the Class of 1948 Career Development Chair at MIT. Assistant Professors Cotto-Escalera and Thomas DeFrantz were awarded a grant from the Class of `51 Fund for Excellence in Education, the Class of `55 Fund for Excellence in Teaching, and the Class of `72 Fund for Educational Innovation to support their proposal to develop media applications in the teaching of theater. Steven Tistaert `98 (Major in Music and recipient of the Emerson Advanced Music Scholarship) received the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts and Elaine Chew G (Recipient of the Emerson Advanced Music Scholarship) received the Laya and Jerome Wiesner Award.


Enrollments in Music and Theater subjects dropped slightly this year to 1246 and 346, respectively, for a total of 1592. Professor Emeritus and Senior Lecturer David Epstein conducted his farewell concert with the MIT Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The concert, presented before a capacity audience at Kresge Auditorium, was a highly successful collaboration with the MIT Chorus. A reception and ceremony in honor of Professor Epstein followed the concert at which he was appointed Senior Fellow of the Arts and Humanities by Dean Philip Khoury. An outstanding season of student chamber music concerts was capped by a performance of Pierrot Lunaire, a landmark work of the twentieth century by Arnold Schoenberg.

Theater Arts faculty and visiting scholars were active as directors of major student productions. Senior Lecturer Michael Ouellette directed Shakespeare's Coriolanus; Professor Sonenberg directed Tony Kushner's adaptation of Corneille's The Illusion; Professor DeFrantz directed the musical Grand Hotel, a production that involved significant collaboration with the Music Section; and Visiting Scholar Tony Simotes directed Shakespeare's Macbeth. 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 Jeanne Bamberger was the invited speaker at the Seashore Symposium at the University of Iowa, guest lecturer at the University of South Florida and participated in workshops on teacher education in Washington D.C. and Copenhagen, Denmark. Professor Child had two new works premiered this year and performances included the Percussive Arts Society International Conference, the Boston Musica Viva, the Rockport Chamber Music Festival and the Brandeis Chamber Music Festival. Professor Harbison saw performances of his Symphony No. 1 with the St. Louis Symphony, the Viola Concerto with the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Concerto for Oboe, Clarinet and Strings with the Metamorphosen Ensemble, the Mirabai Songs with Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish and November 19, 1828 with the Mark Morris Dance Company. Professor Harbison was in residence at Ohio State University in February, the University of Alabama in March and at the Aspen Festival in June where he was Composer in Residence. Professor Harbison saw the release of new CD's including his Suite for Solo `Cello on Deutsche Grammophon, Violin Concerto on Koch, Olympic Dances on Klavier and San Antonio and Four Occasional Pieces both on the Albany label. Professor Harris continues as Associate Editor of Musical Quarterly. She was faculty of Aston Magna Academy in July of 1997 where she presented three papers. She also presented papers at the International Musicological Society in England, the Hallische Handel Festival in Germany and the American Musicological Society in Phoenix. She has also completed 45 articles for the revised edition of the Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Professor Lowell Lindgren delivered eight papers this past year at Oxford, England; Perugia, Italy; and Aston Magna Academy, Yale University. Professor Lindgren had papers published in The Cambridge Companion to Handel (Cambridge University Press), and in Relazioni musicali tra Italia e Germania nell'eta barocca. Professor Lindgren also chaired the seminar Text, Reform and Drama in 17th century Italian Opera at the annual meeting of the Royal Musical Association, New College, Oxford, UK. Professor Marcus Thompson played a concert of string sextets with members of the Cleveland Orchestra in Detroit, performed in Indianapolis with the Audubon String Quartet, in Phoenix and Houston with the Boston Chamber Music Society, and gave the Chicago premiere of Professor Harbison's Viola Concerto. His performances in Europe this year included a tour of Holland with the Amsterdam Chamber Music Society. Professor Thompson celebrated the 30th anniversary of his Boston recital debut with a performance at the Gardner Museum. Professor Cotto-Escalera is developing a new play Teresias. She was the respondent and documenter at Ayacucho 1998: International Group Theater Encounter, Ayacucho, Peru. She was a speaker at the Latin American Popular Theater conference in Glover, Vermont and the Redefining Theater History Conference at the University of Texas in Austin. Professor DeFrantz contributed the chapter Stoned Soul Picnic: Alvin Ailey and the Struggle to Define Official Black Culture to the book Soul: Black Power, Politics, and Pleasure, Monique Guillory and Richard C. Green, editors, NYU Press. He had three book reviews published in the Dance Critics' Association News. He lectured at the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and at the National Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs, New York. Professor DeFrantz is currently choreographing Paul Robeson, All-American, a new play by Ossie Davis. Professor Sonenberg continued her consultant work with the Hammerstein Entertainment Group. She presented the papers Dreamwork and Acting at the International University Theater Association in Montreal and Toward a Field Understanding of Dreams at the International Gestalt Conference in Cleveland. She lectured and taught master classes at Sam Christensen Studio in Los Angeles and continues work on her new book Threshold of the Unconscious. Professor Makubuya gave a concert performance and workshop at the World Music Institute Annenberg Center at the University of Philadelphia. He participated on the Triennial Conference Panel of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association and gave lecture-demonstrations at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, New England Conservatory and the Amankwah Institute of Pan-African Cultures. Senior Lecturer Deveau continues as Artistic Director for the Rockport Chamber Music Festival. He did a series of performances with Richard Stoltzman, clarinet, and gave solo recitals in Ohio, Cambridge and Western Massachusetts. Lecturer Mark Harvey composed and premiered six new compositions with his jazz ensemble Aardvark and released his fourth CD recording with the group. Senior Lecturer Martin Marks was a McGregor Fellow Artist in Residence at Wabash College and received an Outstanding Academic Book award from Choice magazine for his book Music and the Silent Film. Senior Lecturer Ed Cohen traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia to attend performances of his Piano Sonata and Piano Trios at St. Petersburg Conservatory and to lecture on New Music from MIT. Lecturer William Cutter guest conducted at the Nova Scotia Music Festival Association and the Pennsylvania Music Educators Conference Choral Festival. Senior Lecturer George Ruckert gave performances at Connecticut State University, SUNY at Binghamton, New York, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. In January he gave a series of eight performances in Calcutta, India.


Edward Darna retired from his position as Technical Director in Theater Arts after 34 years of service.

Music and Theater Arts affirms its commitment to diversity within its disciplines and among its staff. Eight members of our full-time faculty and teaching staff of twenty are under-represented minorities or women.

More information about Music and Theater Arts can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Peter Child

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98