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World Music Center announced at arts council meeting

Pending approval by the Committee for Review of Space Planning, alumnus Bradford Endicott will provide funding for the creation of a World Music Center in Building N52, Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody announced at the 24th annual meeting of the Council for the Arts at MIT (CAMIT).

The announcement was one of several made during the Council's two-day meeting on October 23-24, which also included the presentation of the Eugene McDermott Award and the Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize, the dedication of the Jacques and Yulla Lipchitz Courtyard and a 25th birthday celebration for the MIT Museum. CAMIT is a volunteer group of alumni and friends founded in 1972 to support the arts at MIT.

The proposed World Music Center, designed to support MIT's growing interest and involvement in international music, will house the Institute's gamelan, Eastern drums, and the East African instruments used by Professor James Makubuya for the new African music ensemble, MITCAN. Mr. Endicott, a Council member who graduated from MIT in 1949, has pledged the funds to soundproof the room and outfit it for concerts. When it is completed, students will have the space to practice and perform on MIT's growing collection of world instruments.


During the Council's meeting, which focused on theater arts at MIT, the 1996 Eugene McDermott Award was given to Kenny Leon, artistic director of the Alliance Theater of Atlanta, and the 1996 Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize was awarded to Michael Ouellette, lecturer in theater arts.

Peter Altman, the producing director of Boston's Huntington Theater Company, introduced Mr. Leon, who was awarded the $5,000 McDermott Award, as "a distinguished artist who deserves greater recognition." In accepting the honor, Mr. Leon said that he was "on a mission of bringing people closer together through theater."

A graduate of Clark Atlanta University, Mr. Leon refocused his energies from acting to directing and in 1988 was selected as one of six US directors to serve for a year as a National Endowment for the Arts/Theater Communications Group Director. Since then, he has been guest director at several theaters, including the Huntington. As part of the award, Mr. Leon will be artist-in-residence at MIT at a date to be announced.

The $2,500 Kepes Prize 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 Studies (CAVS), is celebrated internationally for his work exploring the relationship between art and science, and art and the environment.

The Kepes Prize citation called Mr. Ouellette "the heart of the MIT Theater Section" who "has dedicated himself to a life of service both to the theater and to his students." He has taught at MIT since 1989. Mr. Ouellette was trained in classics at Brown University and completed graduate work in comparative literature at Harvard University. While teaching English and humanities at the University of Maryland, he became interested in theater and subsequently enrolled in Southern Methodist University's Professional Theater Training Program.

The Lipchitz Courtyard in Building 14 was formally opened and dedicated, capping last year's gift to the Institute of four Lipchitz sculptures by former Council member Yulla Lipchitz. Three of the sculptures are sited in the courtyard, which has been remodeled and furnished with cafe-style seating. It is now open Monday through Friday from 8am-6pm.

There was also a 25th birthday celebration for the MIT Museum including a tribute to former Director Warren Seamans, who retired this year after 32 years at MIT. Professor Brody announced the development of the Warren Seamans Exhibitions Fund, which will provide an endowment to ensure support for Museum exhibitions. "We are hoping to raise $100,000 by June 30, 1997, the first anniversary of Warren's retirement," he said.

In recognition of this year's theme, CAMIT members saw performances by theater students, viewed a presentation of the costume and set design for the current Shakespeare Ensemble production of Two Gentleman of Verona, and attended a performance of Reckoning Time, A Song of Walt Whitman, a dramatic oratorio composed by Professor Peter Child and written by Professor Brody. They also toured the recently reopened Rosalind Denny Lewis Music Library renovated with support from contributions from Council members (see story starting on page 1).

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 6, 1996.

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