The CORE Ensemble, called "often formidable, always intelligent, ultimately compelling" by the Boston Globe, has been named winner of the 2000 Eugene McDermott Award by the Council for the Arts at MIT. In addition, the Council awarded the 2000 Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize to acclaimed violist Marcus Thompson, the Robert R. Taylor Professor of Music.
Both awards were presented on October 26 and 27 at the Council's 28th annual meeting, which focused on music.
Since its inception in 1993, the CORE Ensemble (Rafael Popper-Keizer on cello, Hugh Hinton on piano and Michael Parola on percussion) has garnered international recognition for its efforts to commission new works for its unique combination of instruments. The group will return to MIT on March 7 to work with students and perform Tres Vidas, a new chamber music theater work based on the lives of three legendary Latin American women: Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Argentinean poet Alfonsina Storni and Salvadoran peasant-activist Rufina Amaya.
The ensemble's award citation read, "By pioneering the form known as chamber music theater, they have placed chamber music in a new context, broken down preconceived notions and created a new way for audiences to listen. Not only have they altered the form, they have made the content richer as well. By crafting works around the exploration and interpretation of our diverse cultural, spiritual and artistic heritages, the ensemble reaches out to many people."
Founder and director of the MIT Chamber Music Society and the Emerson Program for Private Performance Study, Professor Thompson is a concert violist with an active performing calendar of solo and chamber music engagements in this country and abroad. He is a member of the Boston Chamber Music Society and also serves on the viola faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music.
The citation for Professor Thompson said in part: "For almost 30 years, Marcus Aurelius Thompson has been sharing his gift with MIT. His devotion to music has resulted in the exquisite beauty he gives the world as a violist; his devotion to countless students has inspired them to make&emdash;and keep&emdash;music a part of their lives."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 8, 2000.