Awards to five members of MIT's music faculty and a rising young New York composer were announced at the annual meeting of the Council for the Arts at MIT on October 20-21.
Peter Child, associate professor of music, received the 1994 Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize from the Council. The $2,500 award is given annually to a member of the MIT community "whose creative work reflects the vision and values of Gyorgy Kepes," and "who has demonstrated excellence in the creative arts..." Professor Kepes, Institute Professor Emeritus and founder of MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies, is celebrated internationally for his work exploring the relationship between art and science, and art and the environment. He and his wife, Juliet, attended the award presentation at the MIT Museum.
The Kepes Prize citation called Professor Child "a composer whose protean voice sings of compassion, of dignity, the grandeur and gravitas of human life." A graduate of Reed College and Brandeis University, Professor Child has composed music in many genres, including works for orchestra, chorus, computer synthesis, voice, and a wide variety of chamber groups. His compositions have garnered awards from Tanglewood, the New England Conservatory of Music, WGBH-Radio, and League-ISCM, Boston. Other awards include two compositional fellowships from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation and four New Works commissions from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, including one for the MIT Experimental Music Studio. Recordings of his work have been released on CRI and Neuma compact discs.
In collaboration with MIT Professor of Theater Alan Brody, Professor Child recently wrote Reckoning Time, a concert-opera based on the life and poetry of Walt Whitman. The work will have its world premiere in Boston in March 1995, performed by the John Oliver Chorale.
Also during the Council's Annual Meeting, which focused this year on music at MIT, four members of the MIT music faculty were awarded commissions from the Roy Lamson Memorial Fund. Associate Professor Evan Ziporyn, Senior Lecturer Edward Cohen and Lecturer Elena Ruehr received commissions to compose new musical works which will be premiered at MIT at the second Roy Lamson Concert in 1995. Professor Lowell Lindgren was commissioned to write program notes for the concert. The late Professor Emeritus Roy Lamson was a founding member of the Council for the Arts and an ardent champion of the arts and humanities at MIT.
The Council awarded the 1994 Eugene McDermott Award to 37-year-old composer Tan Dun, whose award-winning music has been performed internationally in venues from the avant-garde to some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. A native of China and resident of New York City, Mr. Tan's current projects include an opera, Marco Polo, commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival, and a new work for the Kronos Quartet. The $5,000 McDermott Award recognizes an artist whose creative work the Council believes to be underappreciated outside of the arts discipline. As part of the award stipulation, Mr. Tan will be artist-in-residence at MIT during a portion of the 1995-96 academic year, working with students in Music and Theater Arts.
Other announcements at the annual meeting included the introduction of a Coundil-funded trial program, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra that will provide free tickets to MIT students for selected BSO performances this year.
As part of this year's annual meeting, Council members heard talks by President Charles M. Vest, Provost Mark S. Wrighton and Associate Provost for the Arts Ellen T. Harris. They also heard a student music recital, toured the music practice room suite in Building 4 and the new theater arts design facility (Building E33), and visited exhibitions at the MIT Museum and List Visual Arts Center. The renovation of both the practice rooms and the design facility was made possible by contributions from individual Council members.
A version of this article appeared in the November 2, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 10).