Focus Turns to Music for Holiday Season Faculty Presentation

December 05, 2006

Researchers at the vanguard of biomedical progress will have a chance to put their own significant work aside briefly later this week to learn from another quarter of the University whose scholarship is recognized around the world.

A pianist and faculty member at the Eastman School of Music will discuss music theory, demonstrate by playing short excerpts by some of the masters, and show how such theory is relevant both to musicians and non-musicians as part of a lecture series at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The presentation on “Music Theory in Practice” by Steven Laitz, Ph.D., will be Friday, Dec. 8, at 4 p.m. in the Class of ’62 Auditorium (Room G-9425). It’s the latest installment of the “Second Friday Science Social” lecture series geared mainly to faculty, staff and students at the University, though the general public is welcome as well. The lectures are free.

While most speakers arrive with slide show in hand, prepared to discuss the nuances of neurons or the movements of microbes, Laitz comes to the Medical Center with a piano in tow. Organizers of the lecture series felt the holiday season called for a change of pace and offered an opportunity to highlight outstanding scholarship from an entirely different discipline.

“This series is all about bringing people from different departments together and showcasing the strengths of the University,” said Dirk Bohmann, who is part of the team organizing the series. “Music is a vital part of the lives of so many scientists and physicians here. Why not bring in an expert from the Eastman School of Music, right here at our own university, to help us experience it?”

Laitz’s presentation will include short examples from Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms and the Beatles.

Laitz is associate professor of Music Theory and chair of the Theory Department at the Eastman School of Music. He is also a faculty member in the Chamber Music Department and a member of the piano faculty at the Chautauqua Institution’s Summer Piano Festival.

Laitz has lectured and performed extensively both in the United States and in Australia and has received several teaching awards, including Eastman’s Eisenhart Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching by a Faculty Member. He has published articles in theory journals such as Integral and Theory and Practice, and he has written book chapters including “Paths to Musicianship” in the Australian publication Musicianship in the 21st Century. He is currently completing the second edition of his music theory textbook, The Complete Musician:  An Integrated Approach to Theory, Analysis, and Listening, for Oxford University Press.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Riverside, in piano performance, theory and composition, and his Ph.D. in music theory from the Eastman School of Music.

The presentation will be the second musical performance of the week open to Medical Center faculty and staff. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 4:30 p.m. in the Sarah Flaum Atrium of the Kornberg Building, musical compositions and operas performed by a combination of faculty, staff, students and alumni from the Medical Center and the Eastman School of Music will take place. The performance is the latest in a series of concerts, “Music on My Mind,” that are sponsored by the Department of Neurosurgery.

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