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Council's grant program nurtures new student ensemble

"Something very exciting and wonderful happened on Monday evening in Killian Hall."

This was the opening sentence of The Tech's February 28 review of the inaugural concert held four days earlier of the MIT String Sinfonietta, a new ensemble formed by Kay (Annie) Chen, a senior in electrical engineering and computer science. The group was founded to give dedicated student musicians the opportunity to study and explore chamber orchestra repertoire and to gain experience in playing in a small conductorless orchestra. Ms. Chen noted that in this setting, "each member must lead and follow at a higher level than in a symphony or string quartet."

To help get her venture off the ground, Ms. Chen, herself a violinist, applied to the Council for the Arts at MIT for funding for the Sinfonietta's May concert, which will feature guest pianist David Deveau, senior lecturer in music.

"MIT has not had a string chamber orchestra since the early 1970s," Professor Marcus Thompson wrote in a letter of support. "We are sorely in need of one." Professor Thompson has agreed to serve as the ensemble's faculty advisor.

Because MIT hasn't had a comparable ensemble, the Sinfonietta found themselves challenged by the limits of MIT's music collection. The grant they received will be used to purchase new music in addition to defraying the costs of publicity, program production and recording. Thanks to the grant, "we have much more freedom in deciding what we want to play," Ms. Chen said


MIT students, staff and faculty are all eligible to apply to the Council's Grants program, which provides financial support for arts projects in all disciplines. "The Grants Program welcomes applications from students, faculty and staff for projects that celebrate the arts as an integral part of campus life, " said Susan Cohen, Council director. Friday, March 14 is this year's final deadline for proposals.
Applications are evaluated on the quality and innovation of the project with a particular emphasis on the potential for participation by MIT students.

The Council, a volunteer organization of MIT alumni/ae and friends who are committed to supporting cultural programs for the Institute community, has awarded over $1 million since 1974 to more than 1,000 arts projects.

Guidelines and application forms are available in Rm E15-205. For more information, call x3-4005 or send e-mail to <>.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 12, 1997.

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