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MIT harpsichordist wins Prague competition

Mary Farbood, graduate student in media arts and sciences, was awarded top honors for her harpsichord performance at the 57th Prague Spring International Music Competition, earning cash prizes, professional engagements and the chance to make a studio recording. Farbood outperformed 37 young artists from Korea, Japan, China, the United States and every country in Europe.

In addition to winning first prize in the overall harpsichord competition, Farbood also won the Bohuslav Martin Foundation Prize for the best performance of Bohuslav Martinu's Concerto for Harpsichord and Small Orchestra, which all finalists had to perform in the final of three rounds of competition.

Formerly affiliated with the MIT Music and Theater Arts Section, Boston-area harpsichordist, fortepianist, conductor and author Mark Kroll has taught Farbood for more than two years. As one of the international panel of judges at the competition, Krull recused himself during Farbood's performances, but admitted, "my enthusiasm for Mary's playing was probably obvious--and I hope contagious."

Kroll, who had been working to arrange concerts for Farbood, says the victory will open a lot of doors of her. "She already has an offer to play a concerto this August in the Czech Republic, and she will play for the Prague Spring Festival in June of 2006," he said.

The prize was presented in a ceremony on Sunday, May 15.

The following day, MIT's Music and Theater Arts Section held its own annual award ceremony. Professor Marcus Thompson presented Farbood (in absentia) with an Emerson Music Scholarship Certificate of Appreciation. "This just proves that we know what we're talking about since we selected her before this happened," Thompson said.

In an e-mail sent to Thompson from Prague, Farbood thanked him for his support, especially through the Music Section's Advanced Music Performance (AMP) program. "There's no way I would have been able to progress consistently and prepare myself to enter this competition without being in AMP," she wrote.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 18, 2005 (download PDF).

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