As the school year begins, everyone focuses on class schedules, syllabi and textbooks, but MIT community members can take a break from problem sets and computer screens and take advantage of a rich assortment of creative pursuits, performances and exhibitions -- nearly all of which are free.
"There's a wonderful synergy at MIT among art, science, technology and the creativity that is at the center of MIT's identity," said Mary Haller, director of arts communication in the Office of the Arts, established to oversee, coordinate, support and facilitate arts activities.
Each year, hundreds of musicians, theater artists, writers, poets, visual artists and architects visit MIT through various departments and programs. They're here as part of a series or in a one-time special event -- as long-term artists-in-residence or discrete recitalists -- teaching or performing or sometimes both.
The music and theater arts section's Guest Artist Series includes concerts by the Miro String Quartet (October 22), the St. Petersburg String Quartet (October 30) and the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale (November 7).
Performance artist, social and cultural critic, author and NPR commentator Guillermo Gï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½mez-Peï¿½a and interdisciplinary artist Roberto Sifuentes will be visiting artists at MIT (October 28-November 1 and Jan-uary 2000) and will both present the 1999 Abramowitz Memorial Lecture on November 1.
A number of artists-in-residence are continuing longer-term residencies at MIT: kinetic sculptor Arthur Ganson, in his fifth year at MIT, works with students in mechanical engineering; also in her fifth year at MIT, science photographer Felice Frankel pursues her "visualizing science" work with students and faculty; holographers Susan Gamble and Michael Wenyon begin their fourth year of digital photography and holography at Haystack Observatory, working towards a spring exhibition at the Compton Gallery.
FREEBIES FROM CAMIT
The Council for the Arts at MIT (CAMIT) offers MIT students free tickets to some of the area's finest music, theater and dance events. Students this year have already been to the Huntington Theater for Mrs. Warren's Profession and are now signing up for trips to the American Repertory Theater for We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! and Ivanov, "The Soul of Mbira" and an evening with David Sedaris. Watch for ads in The Tech and see the web site for announcements.
The Council for the Arts also sponsors a program with the Boston Symphony Orchestra whereby MIT students can obtain free tickets for selected concerts during the BSO's Symphony Hall season.
In addition, it funds MIT's membership with Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, so students can receive free admission just by showing their MIT ID at the museum. Those who work at MIT can come to the Office of the Arts (Rm E15-205) to borrow one of eight membership passes to the MFA for free admission.
DO YOUR OWN THING
You don't have to leave campus to get an "arts fix." The Student Art Association offers instruction, studio experience and 24-hour facilities for artists working at all levels in a varied and extensive range of media.
In performing arts, MIT has nearly two dozen established music groups, such as the Symphony Orchestra, Gamelan Galak Tika (New England's only Balinese gamelan orchestra), chamber ensembles, and numerous a cappella ensembles. In fact, MIT has three substantial programs in world music: Gamelan Galak Tika, MITCAN (African music and dance) and MITHAS (classical performing arts of South Asia).
Theater productions range from classic interpretations by the Shakespeare Ensemble to innovative stagings by the Musical Theatre Guild to improvisational comedy by Roadkill Buffet to original student-written productions in the Playwrights-in-Performance series.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 22, 1999.