"Many people have had bad, or even 'traumatic' experiences with contemporary music, and do their best to avoid going to concerts where such music is featured," said Jose Luis Elizondo, who graduated from MIT in 1995 with a double major in electrical engineering and music. As a result, he said, "many incredibly beautiful and wonderful contemporary compositions do not get the attention or the audiences they deserve."
With that thought in mind, Mr. Elizondo, an active composer himself who still lives and works in the Boston area, organized "Sounds of the 20th Century," a concert of music composed in the second half of the twentieth century featuring works by MIT-affiliated composers. The free concert, to be held on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8pm in Killian Hall, will include world premieres by Professor Peter Child and Lecturer William Cutter, pieces by Institute Professor John Harbison, Senior Lecturer Edward Cohen, Lecturers Elena Ruehr and Charles Shadle, and Mr. Elizondo himself, as well as works by Harvard and New England Conservatory composers.
"My goal was to present some of the chamber music that I find most compelling by some of my favorite Boston composers," said Mr. Elizondo. "Fortunately, most of my favorite Boston composers are also on the music faculty at MIT," he added, noting the presence of "world-class composers" at the Institute.
Another goal of his was to promote the interaction of MIT student performers with professionals. Musicians for the concert include graduate students Elaine Chew (piano) and Michael Horowitz (flute). Other MIT-affiliated performers include soprano Margaret O'Keefe, who teaches vocal performance, and Mr. Shadle (piano). Soprano Janna Baty -- daughter of Kate Baty, coordinator of the Host to International Students Program -- is also among the distinguished musicians performing at this event.
Mr. Elizondo is pleased that all composers represented in the concert will be present at Saturday's performance. "I feel a strong responsibility to help introduce people to music that is not only of an extremely high quality but is also accessible," he said. "What better way than to organize a concert in which the audience can actually meet and interact with the composers themselves?"
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 25, 1998.