Next week, nearly 150 singers will take the stage at Kresge Auditorium as part of the International Choir Exchange between the MIT Concert Choir and the University Choir of Lausanne, Switzerland.
The exchange is not just musical. On Wednesday, April 26, the choirs will present an "international symposium" in Room 26-100, featuring student presentations on research subjects ranging from the life sciences to materials science to architecture. The event is open to the community.
The two schools' choirs, accompanied by a professional symphony orchestra, will then perform "The German Requiem" by Johannes Brahms together on Friday, April 28.
"It's considered one of the most important choral and orchestral pieces in the repertoire," said William Cutter, the conductor of the MIT Concert Choir. "It's a great piece for the chorus because they get to sing all of it. The chorus is the star of the show."
The University Choir of Lausanne, which is affiliated with both the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University of Lausanne, will be here for 10 days. Next month, the choir members from MIT will travel to Switzerland, where they will stay for 10 days and perform the "Requiem" two more times, in the Lausanne Cathedral on May 31 and June 1.
Having taken part in an exchange like this before, Cutter said there are great benefits for both groups.
"You get to know the people very well," he said. "You make a connection with them as musical friends and as friends."
Thomas Maxisch has been working on organizing the scientific portion of the exchange since 2004. "It's a very nice program, with the purpose that the MIT community will have an impression of what's going on at the other school, in terms of research," he said. Maxisch, an MIT postdoctoral associate in materials science and engineering, received his Ph.D. from Lausanne.
The schools will join for a similar symposium in Switzerland on Monday, May 29.
"That's been the idea all along," said Cutter. "It's pretty unique."
MIT President Susan Hockfield and Patrick Aebischer, the president of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, will both speak before the concert, which Cutter described as one of the biggest performances ever to hit Kresge.
"It's going to be a very exciting event," he said. "It's a beautiful piece. Most people that know choral music know this piece."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 26, 2006 (download PDF).