September 26, 2017

Fall 2017 Message from the Dean

Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery

Bienen school eventsThis past spring the Bienen School of Music presented Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land. It tells the story of Laurie Moss, a high school senior who leaves home to find her place in the world.

This fall, students from around the world are leaving home to pursue their dreams at the Bienen School. As we welcome 100 new undergraduates and 84 new graduate students, we look forward to the many diverse talents and passions they will bring to our community.

Our production of The Tender Land brought new life to an opera seen only once before at Northwestern, in a 1958 production conducted by the composer himself just four years after its premiere. This story of new beginnings was a particularly apt choice for our student performers, but our spring production signified endings as well. Its director, artist in residence and director of opera Michael Ehrman, retired at the end of spring quarter, along with musicology professor Thomas Bauman and tuba and euphonium professor Rex Martin. Together the three gave the Bienen School six decades of distinguished service.

In the cycle of academic life, endings bring more beginnings, and this fall four new faculty members join the school to begin forging their legacies here. Joachim Schamberger succeeds Ehrman as director of opera; Andrew Talle succeeds Bauman as associate professor of musicology; and Eugene Pokorny and Matthew Gaunt succeed Martin to lead the tuba and euphonium studio.

Although every academic year brings new beginnings, 2017–18 offers particularly auspicious opportunities for our students. The most recent winners of the school’s two internationally prestigious awards return for their second residencies—Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize–winning composer Steve Reich in November and Jean Gimbel Lane Prize–winning pianist Emanuel Ax in April—and this spring will see the announcement of the prizes’ 2018 recipients. This March the school will undertake its first-ever Asian tour as the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra visits three cities in China. The orchestra’s program will commemorate the centennial of Leonard Bernstein, sharing the music of this quintessentially American composer with Asian audiences.

Celebrating new beginnings for our 2017 graduates, composer Jake Heggie spoke at the school’s June convocation. His words apply equally to those now starting their time at the school: “I choose you to ignite and share the flame of possibility and the fire of inspiration. I choose you to wake up the world and blaze new pathways."

Photos (from top): The Bienen School’s spring production of The Tender Land; Aaron Copland with students at Northwestern in 1958; Steve Reich with the Contemporary Music Ensemble; Emanuel Ax performing in Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall; Victor Yampolsky leading the Symphony Orchestra; and Jake Heggie delivering the 2017 convocation address.