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Awards recognize MIT achievements in the arts

Three students won awards for their accomplishments in the arts at MIT at the Awards Convocation on Wednesday, May 13.

The Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Awards, established by the Council for the Arts at MIT to recognize outstanding achievement in and contributions to the arts went to Elaine Chew, a doctoral candidate in operations research, and Kevin Simmons, a senior in philosophy and theater from Castle Rock, CO.

In addition to her graduate work, Ms. Chew, who was born in Buffalo, NY and raised in Singapore, is an affiliated artist with the music and theater arts section and an Advanced Music Performance student. While at MIT, she played and recorded recent music by faculty composers, researched and performed a recital of contemporary Chinese pieces, performed a wide variety of chamber music and acted as pianist in a rehearsal reading of Institute Professor John Harbison's Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma. When she completes her doctorate, Ms. Chew plans to focus on music and attempt a career as a pianist.

Senior Lecturer David Deveau praised Ms. Chew as a "brilliant and versatile pianist [who has] ���������������������������distinguished herself in the US and abroad as a performer of elegance, taste and virtuosity."

Mr. Simmons has engaged in artistic pursuits in theater and photography. He has been a member of the Dramashop board and the Shakespeare Ensemble, taught photography at the Student Art Association, served on the staff of Technique and won second place in the 1998 Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts competition (see separate article).

His theater teachers praised Mr. Simmons' commitment and craftsmanship, particularly citing his thesis production of Antigone during IAP 1998. "We have never seen a student put together a directorial process faster or with greater elegance than Kevin," said Associate Professor Janet Sonenberg.

Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody applauded Mr. Simmons' energy and intelligence, writing, "Kevin is one of those challenging students whose abilities are so original and of such a natively high level that it demands a certain calibration to know when to get out of the way and when to intervene and teach."

The Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts, established by arts patron Louis Sudler to reward a graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in music, theater, painting, sculpture, design, architecture or film, was awarded to Stephen Tistaert, a physics and music major from Malibu, CA, who will continue his musical studies in the master's program at the New England Conservatory. Class of 1949 Professor Ellen T. Harris described him as "the kind of musician and intellect who comes along rarely in undergraduate teaching. He is extraordinarily bright and extraordinarily talented; full of good humor and modest."

As one of the winners of the MIT Symphony Orchestra's Concerto Competition, Mr. Tistaert soloed in a performance of Jolivet's Con-certino for Trumpet, Piano and Strings in October, 1995. "Like an inhabitant of a blues bar, the performance blew a distant smoke -- and this was perfect for the piece's sophisticated, scattered character," wrote The Tech's Craig Chang.


Eleven students who have made outstanding contributions to the cultural life of MIT were recognized at the annual music and theater arts ceremony on May 14.

The Joseph D. Everingham Award recognizing a single creative accomplishment in theater arts by a graduating student was shared by Lin-Ann Ching, a senior from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, who is earning dual degrees in architecture and theater, and Robert Marcato, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) from Rye, NY.

Ms. Ching won for her creation of the role of "Roc������������������o" in the December 1997 production of Assistant Professor Brenda Cotto-Escalera's Motherlands at Boston's Theater Offensive, and Mr. Marcato was recognized for his performance as Matamore in Dramashop's April production of The Illusion. The Boston Phoenix review of Motherlands praised Ms. Ching's "passion and tremendous poise" and The Tech's review of The Illusion applauded Mr. Marcato as "laugh-out-loud funny" as well as "heartbreaking."

The Edward S. Darna Award, presented to a graduating student who has demonstrated excellence in theater arts and made a substantial contribution to the health of theater life on the MIT campus, went to Virginia J. Matta, a senior in chemical engineering living in Quincy, MA, and David Montgomery, a senior in EECS and materials science and engineering from Lexington, GA.

The Gregory Tucker Memorial Prize recognizes students for exceptional ability in composition, performance and/or music history studies. This year's award was shared by horn player Petra Chong, a junior in EECS, mechanical engineering and music from Singapore, and violist Jennifer Grucza, a senior in EECS and materials science and engineering from Champaign, IL.

The Philip Loew Memorial Award, given for the fifth time this year, honors creative achievement in music. This year's recipients are Amy Fienup, a senior in EECS and materials science and engineering with a minor in music from St. Louis, MO, and Nicole Lee, a senior in biology and music from Aloha, OR. Ms. Fienup has been a leader in vocal chamber music and in the Muses, MIT's all-women a cappella ensemble. Ms. Lee is an Advanced Music Performance piano student.

Ole Mattis Nielsen, a sophomore flutist studying EECS and civil and environmental engineering from Tonsberg, Norway, and pianist Yukiko Ueno, a graduate student in biology from Cambridge, received Ragnar and Margaret Naess Awards in recognition of exceptional talent and commitment to private performance study.

The newly established Brad and Dorothea Endicott Award, recognizing distinguished service and musical contribution to the program in World Music at MIT, was awarded to Temina Clark, a senior in chemical engineering from Redwood City, CA. Ms. Clark has been a member of Gamelan Galak Tika, a Kathak dancer with MITHAS and an advisor for a freshman seminar in World Music.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 3, 1998.

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