In October, a concert at the Slosberg Music Center commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of composer/conductor Irving Fine, who taught at Brandeis from 1950 until his death from a heart attack in 1962. The program included two of Fine’s orchestral pieces, “The Serious Song: A Lament for String Orchestra” (1955) and “Notturno for Strings and Harp” (1950-51). Fine, the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Music at Brandeis, was the founding director of the School of Creative Arts.
A trio of Brandeisians recently hit the right notes in music-composition contests. Travis Alford, PhD’13, took the top prize in the 2012 Composers Competition sponsored by the League of Composers/International Society for Contemporary Music. His winning piece, “Self, Analyzed” (2010), is for flute, bass clarinet, percussion, guitar and toy piano. And the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University awarded 2012 commissions to Emily Koh, a second-year doctoral student, and Christian Gentry, PhD’12. Koh will compose a work for the Lunar Ensemble. Gentry will compose a work for the Guidonian Hand ensemble.
Scenic designer Cameron Anderson has joined the Brandeis faculty as an assistant professor of theater arts. Anderson, who has been nominated for a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, has designed extensively at major theater and opera companies around the world. She designed “Simon Boccanegra” at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in 2011, and “West Side Story” at Norway’s Kilden Performing Arts Centre in early 2012. In October, she was the set designer for the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre production of “The Company We Keep,” which featured actor Marianna Bassham, MFA’02.
Francine Koslow Miller ’73 has written a book titled Cashing in on Culture (Hol Art Books, 2012), which recounts the events around Brandeis’ 2009 declaration that it would close the Rose Art Museum and sell its holdings to deal with mounting financial issues — including the months of controversy, and the changes of heart, that followed that announcement. A Boston-area art critic and journalist, Miller earned a PhD in art history at Boston University.
In September, Thomas Doherty, professor in the American studies program, wrote an essay for The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Storied TV: Cable Is the New Novel,” casting an appraising eye over the storytelling merits of such episodic series as “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey” and “Homeland.” “Like the bulky tomes of Dickens and Dreiser, Trollope and Wharton, the series are thick on character and dense in plot line, spanning generations and tribal networks and crisscrossing the currents of personal life and professional duty,” wrote Doherty.
David Rakowski, the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Composition at Brandeis, is serving as the 2012-13 Karel Husa Visiting Professor at the Ithaca College School of Music. In October, Rakowski gave the Barlow Lecture at Brigham Young University. Later that month, his fourth symphony was premiered by the New England Philharmonic, where he is the composer in residence.
This fall marked AliveWire Theatrics’ world premiere of “You Will Make a Difference,” a performance conceived and directed by Jeremy Goren ’03, at the West Park Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. The “collaboratively devised” piece draws on material as diverse as Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” medieval pageant plays, “My So-Called Life” and the performers’ own stories. The communal ending of the piece included a small meal prepared by a chef.