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MIT showcases the arts for Technology Day 1994

Technology Day 1994

June 3-5.

By Ann Ames
Arts Editor

Every year, as part of Alumni/ae Week, MIT hosts an event called "Technology Day" which showcases a particular aspect of the Institute. This year for the first time the focus is on the arts, and the "day" is really several days long.

Alumni/ae Week events begin on the evening of June 2, at a Boston Pops concert featuring MIT musicians. Lecturer in music and theater arts David DeVeau will be the piano soloist; the program will include a piece by Professor of Music and Theater Arts John Harbison that was originally commissioned by the Pops.

An extensive schedule of events is planned for Friday in two sessions. "The morning program demonstrates the range and depth of state-of-the-art arts research," said Administrative Assistant Elizabeth M. Connors. In contrast, "the afternoon program is more hands-on."

The morning will begin with an introduction by Associate Provost of the Arts Ellen G. Harris and opening remarks by Institute Professor Emeritus Philip Morrison. World-renowned architect I. M. Pei '40, whose projects include the Grand Louvre in Paris and MIT's Weisner Building, will take the stage next to discuss his recent work with Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning William J. Mitchell.

The program continues with a talk by Richard Polich ML '65, who will present the scientific face of art. Polich is the founder and president of a metallurgical facility for art casting. Following his presentation, the focus turns to MIT's music faculty, as Pulitzer Prize-winning Harbison and electronic innovator Professor of Media Arts and Sciences Tod Machover describe their work and its relation to their environment. They will be accompanied in their discussion by another Pulitzer recipient: UMass-Boston Professor of English Lloyd Schwartz, whose music criticisms for the Boston Phoenix recently earned him that prestigious award.

While the morning program comprises formal lectures, the afternoon program is more hands-on. Several smaller events will take place simultaneously. There will be a dramatic presentation in Kresge Little Theater, in which members of the theater arts faculty, under the direction of Professor of Theater Arts Alan Brody, will rehearse and discuss scenes from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. In Bartos Theater, Media Laboratory researchers, including Head of the Media Arts and Sciences Stephen Benton '63, will describe their work in graphic, musical, and cinematic media.

The literature department will be represented in Killian Hall by Professor of Science and Writing Alan P. Lightman, author of the bestselling Einstein's Dreams, Visiting Writer Pamela Alexander, and Associate Professor of Literature John Hildebidle. The three will read from and answer questions about their published works. Senior Lecture John Oliver, conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, will direct a detailed reading and discussion of J. S. Bach's Jesu Meine Freude, BWV 227. Members of the MIT Chamber Chorus and MIT Concert Choir will participate, and the audience is invited to join in. Finally, Mitchell and colleagues from the School of Architecture and Planning will give a presentation in the Bechtel Lecture Hall of new directions in architectural design.

Tours of MIT's architecture and art collections have been scheduled for Saturday, June 4. Among the options are a tour of the new biology building, presentations in the MIT Museum led by artists and museum curators, tours of the List Center Gallery's current exhibitions, led by List Center staff, and a tour of MIT's public art collection, led by Marjory Jacobson, former Director of Exhibitions for the Committee on the Visual Arts at MIT.

On Sunday, Professor A. R. Gurney and actress Kitty Carlisle Hart will present Gurney's Love Letters in Lobdell Dining Room, with a reception immediately following the performance.

Technology Day was devised many years ago as a means of bringing alumni back to MIT and keeping them in touch with current research here. According to Eliza G. Dame, Program Director for Alumni Activities, the day also serves "to thank alumni for their gifts to the Institute," which are presented to President Charles M. Vest at a luncheon between Friday's morning and afternoon sessions.

The chairman of Technology Day 1994, Jorge Rodriguez '60, feels that it is "a good experience to be a part of this, because you get a good idea of what's going on here." Prior to his involvement in this endeavor, Rodriguez had not been aware of the extent of arts programs at MIT. He gives a great deal of credit to Provost Harris, "a very dynamic and creative person providing focus for our efforts."

Though it is still perceived as an alumni-oriented activity, current members of the MIT community are also invited to attend Friday's lectures and demonstrations.

"People [here] that pursue the arts bring something special to their arts," Connors said. "It's important that people see the other side of [the arts at MIT] - not just the famous guys."