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Pianist Zebrowski goes on the road in North Africa

By Scott Deskin
Associate Arts Editor

It's not often that one hears about accomplishments outside the science and engineering departments here at MIT. Marek Zebrowski, a lecturer in the music and theater arts department, seems content to live in relative anonymity in spite of his achievements. As a trained classical pianist, he has recently conducted a tour of Northern Africa and is poised to perform on the road again this summer in Europe.

He has also recorded an album of compositions by Prokofiev, which has deepened his international following. (He also names Mozart, Bach, and Chopin as some of his favorites.) "How it got all the way to Morocco, I don't quite know," Zebrowski says. "But the next thing I know, I'm conducting 90-minute interviews on Moroccan radio." Aside from having to contend with the minor perils of stardom such as long interviews, unclear hotel etiquette, and untuned pianos, he feel that his last tour was a success.

Now a grizzled veteran of concert performance, which he's done since 1985, Zebrowski takes the good with the bad. In one concert season, he had a manager who was booking four performances a week, some of them occurring five hundred miles apart. "After a couple of weeks of such tours, you're completely exhausted. ... I was close to passing out," he says. Since then, he has found a new manager who understands his interests better so that he can get more satisfaction out of touring. Zebrowski is also an avid photographer, and chooses to document his travels with pictures: his recent experiences in Casablanca, Marrakesh, Rome, and an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls in New York have shown him artifacts "that tie this entire civilization together."

Zebrowski started playing piano at the age of five, living in Poland and then France during his early education in music. He graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1978, though he has been lecturing at MIT since 1975. He has taught several music courses, including Introduction to Western Music (21M 011), but presently he is concentrating on chamber music coaching and one-on-one teaching.

In addition to his musical pursuits, Zebrowski also studies meteorology. He cultivated this interest when he was growing up in Poland and he flew glider planes: this fascination with the sky still lasts today, as he contributes some meteorological forecasts for The Tech. He speaks modestly of this hobby, respecting those professors in the meteorology department who "tolerate" him. However, a few years ago in an intercollegiate competition for weather forecasting, Zebrowski placed ninth overall out of nearly 500 professional meteorologists in the state, which shows that he's not completely whimsical about this hobby.

What does the future hold for Marek Zebrowski? More performances, to be sure. In anticipation of another compact disc release this summer (this time covering Schumann), he will hold a recital in early May at Kresge Auditorium. After that and his tour of Europe this summer, Zebrowski will no doubt continue to carry on a strong music program here at MIT.