The night before senior James Kretchmar takes the Commencement stage to receive his SB in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), he'll take a very different kind of stage. At the annual Tech Night at Pops on Thursday, June 3, he'll take the podium to conduct Stars and Stripes Forever at the conclusion of the concert.
Stan Zanarotti, a friend who knows Mr. Kretchmar through his work in the Student Information Processing Board, made a donation to the Boston Symphony Orchestra to make this happen. "I knew James was into conducting and decided to give him a once-in-a-lifetime gift for his graduation," said Mr. Zanarotti, who earned the SM in EECS from MIT in 1989.
"I was in a state of total amazement [over this gift]," recalled Mr. Kretchmar, who plays some clarinet and piano and participated in the MIT Concert Band during his freshman year. Noting that his MIT musical involvement has been "on the academic side," Mr. Kretchmar said most of his conducting experience predates his MIT career, although he did take a conducting class as a freshman. After graduation, Mr. Kretchmar will work in MIT's Network Operations group and the Athena Server Operations group in Information Systems.
The sold-out concert, conducted by Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams, will also feature members of MIT's faculty as soloists and performers (see below). The performance is at 8pm at Symphony Hall.
Pianist Heng-Jin Park Ellsworth, an affiliated artist in the MIT music section, will be featured soloist in Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto #1 in G minor, opus 25. Born in Korea and raised in the Boston area, Ms. Ellsworth started studying the piano at age five and made her Boston Pops debut at the age of 15. She was a finalist in the Sydney International Piano Competition and the Coleman National Chamber Music Competition and a prizewinner in the Monterey Peninsula Chamber Music Competition.
With Boston Symphony Orchestra members Lucia Lin and Andrew Pearce, Ms. Ellsworth, who holds both bachelor's and master's degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music, is a member of the Boston Trio, which is in residence at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
As the Class of 1949 celebrates its 50th reunion, MIT's two Class of 1949 Professors of Music -- Institute Professor John Harbison, who held the post from 1984-95, and his successor, soprano Ellen T. Harris -- will perform two songs from that era: This Heart of Mine by Harry Warren and Time after Time by Jule Styne.
Professor Harbison, who will serve as piano accompanist, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, whose new opera The Great Gatsby will premiere at New York's Metropolitan Opera in December. As a vocalist, Professor Harris, MIT's first associate provost for the arts, has performed a diverse repertoire ranging from early opera to the National Anthem at Fenway Park, a number she'll reprise at Friday's Commencement exercises.
Lecturer John Corley, who retires this year after leading the MIT Concert Band throughout its 50-year history, will conduct Arise All Ye, MIT's official alma mater.
Any balcony tickets still available for Tech Night at the Pops will be sold on the day of the performance at the Sala de Puerto Rico (Stratton Student Center, second floor) from noon-6pm. Prices range from $18-35. For more information, call x3-8200.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 32).