Fifth-year senior Mitchell Drury stands upright with his violin resting on his shoulder. He zeroes in on a sheet of music and begins playing the notes, carefully gliding his bow across the violin’s strings. His teacher, MU violin and chamber music professor Eva Szekely, hums to her student’s rhythmic tranquility. “The note before is the one you want to emphasize. Sustain without rushing,” Szekely instructs her intrepid pupil. “That’s beautiful.” Drury plays a work by renowned nineteenth-century violinist/composer Niccolò Paganini, one of Szekely’s favorite composers.
M. Heather Carver is framed by her clown shadow—a black mannequin head wearing a pink camouflage hat and red clown’s nose—as she joyfully begins to describe her place at MU. “I come from a background of performing,” the Associate Professor of Theatre offers. “As a means of studying something, we perform it.” As a way of studying autobiography, for example, Carver performs autobiography.
On November 20, 2013, as part of a series of educational events on American music, Dr. Shonekan hosted the event Hip Hop 101 at the Blue Note. The event included performances of spoken word poetry, spinning, hip hop music, and freestyle rap.
Szekely explains that classical music is not as popular in the twenty-first century as in previous times because it is erroneously perceived to be elitist. Classical music since the mid-1800s was intended for and much appreciated by the masses, when musicians had rock star status. It is Szekely’s mission to keep the classical genres developing by enhancing the repertoire and exposing new generations of music lovers to its unique magic.
Heather Carver describes herself as “a performance studies artist/scholar,” someone who investigates an issue through performance—“so we study autobiography, and we do autobiographical performance.” Carver teaches several kinds of creative writing, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, in adaptation and performance of literature for theatre and the screen. She also co-directs the Writing for Performance Program, which helps students adapt different kinds of writing for the stage or screen, including poetry, short stories, autobiography, or ethnography. And Carver serves as creator and artistic director of the Life and Literature Performance series to showcase original and adapted work by MU students for the stage.
Langen describes the rewards of two collaborative projects: Eight Twentieth-Century Russian Plays (2000) is an anthology of Russian plays that he translated and edited with Justin Weir. He also worked with his brother, Jesse Langen, examining how the music by Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich drew upon the poems of Alexander Blok.