Conversations with actors, playwrights, composers and singer/songwriters…workshops with scriptwriters and conductors…master classes with pianists and other instrumentalists: these and other educational forums gave Harvard students, the University community and the public opportunities to engage and interact with artists last year through the Office for the Arts’ Learning From Performers program. Altogether, 33 individual artists and three artist ensembles participated.
In the realm of theater, film and television, actor/producer Laura Linney (the films You Can Count on Me, The Savages and Showtime’s series “The Big C”) discussed her career (October 6); art.party.theater.company, a New York-based ensemble co-founded by Mary Birnbaum ’05, worked with students to further develop an original performance work (October 17-21); scriptwriter/producer Agnes Nixon talked about her groundbreaking daytime TV dramas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” moderated by Sanyee Yuan ’12 (December 6, co-sponsored by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations); Carlton Cuse ’81, television writer/showrunner for “LOST,” among other shows, and fellow writer Monica Henderson Beletsky ’99 (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”) led a three-part “Writing for Television” workshop (January 18-20); and actors Thomas Derrah and Karl Baker Olson of the SpeakEasy Stage Company production Red and the play’s director, David R. Gammons ‘92, discussed Red‘s protagonist, artist Mark Rothko, with Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Director of the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art at the Straus Center for Conservation, Harvard Art Museums (January 20).
Also, humorist, television writer, author and blogger Andy Borowitz ’80 discussed “Comedy: The Career” (January 20); Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist/performer Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) and actor/vocalist Alice Ripley (Next to Normal) spoke to students enrolled in Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding 31, “American Musicals and American Culture” (February 28 and March 27,respectively); young British playwright Ella Hickson discussed her work in tandem with an undergraduate production of her play Hot Mess (March 4); and Academy Award-winning actor/director Tommy Lee Jones ’69 talked about his career during a conversation moderated by fellow thespian (and Harvard alum) John Lithgow 67, part of a ceremony honoring Jones as recipient of the 2012 Harvard Arts Medal (April 26).
In music, singer/songwriter Jon McLaughlin answered students’ questions during an informal conversation at Lowell House (October 13); conductors Will Crutchfield (October 28), Nicholas McGegan (November 7), Vladimir Morosan (February 14-19) and Stephen Stubbs (November 14) led master classes; pianists Lang Lang (October 29) and Menahem Pressler (March 30) also led master classes; jazz trombonist/composer Curtis Fuller led an open rehearsal and performed with the Harvard Jazz Bands (October 31); alums Lesley Koenig ’78, Former General Director of Opera Boston (January 19), and Robert Kraft ’76, President of 20th Century Fox Music (January 20), discussed their careers as part of the Wintersession Arts and Media Seminars; the Silk Road Ensemble, in residence at Harvard, performed works-in-progress by composers David Bruce, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche and Kojiro Umezaki (all but Umezaki were in attendance, January 23); rock duo/performance artists Dean Warham ‘85 and Britta Phillips, aka Dean & Britta, talked about their music and multimedia projects with Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain (February 9); composer Osvaldo Golijov discussed a new piece which was performed by the St. Lawrence String Quartet (April 2, co-sponsored by Harvard Hillel, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Department of Music); jazz record producer, discographer and author Michael Cuscuna participated in the OFA and Harvard Jazz Bands’ year-long salute to Blue Note Records (April 11); and jazz saxophonist/composer David Liebman led a master class and performed in concert (April 16-19, co-sponsored by Department of Music and Dudley House Music Society).
In dance, Connie Chin ’79, General Manager of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, participated in a Wintersession roundtable on careers in arts administration (January 19); and Robert Battle, dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, talked about his career during a conversation moderated by Jill Johnson, Director of the OFA Dance Program (April 16, co-sponsored by OFA Dance Program and Celebrity Series of Boston). And in the visual arts, Jen Mergel ’98, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, also participated in a Wintersession roundtable (January 20); artist David Michalek, whose video installation “Slow Dancing” had its Boston premiere presented by the OFA April 20-29 as part of the ARTS FIRST festival, talked about his creative process during a conversation moderated by VES Professor Giuliana Bruno (April 20).
Click here for more information about these programs. More opportunities to connect with artists are in store for 2012-13…check the OFA’s events calendar; the Harvard Gazette calendar; and subscribe to The Beat, the OFA’s weekly cultural digest for all things art at Harvard.