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MIT Music and Theater Arts

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MIT Music and Theater Arts

The professional artists on the faculty and academic staff of Music and Theater Arts Section of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, offer students a broad range of opportunities to experience music and theater rigorously but with flexibility. Students may pursue a major or joint major with science or engineering, a minor, or a concentration in music or theater or simply take a music class in the areas of history/culture, composition/theory or performance. Whether participating for credit or not, opportunities for music performance include: Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Concert Choir, Chamber Chorus, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Festival Jazz Ensemble, Jazz combos, a Balinese gamelan, Galak Tika and a Senegalese drum ensemble, Rambax. Theater classes feature subjects such as acting, design, stagecraft, writing, lighting, media, etc. Student productions include One Acts, Playwrights in Performance, faculty directed productions in the fall, winter, and spring in collaboration with MIT Dramashop, and play readings.

Why come to MIT, if interested in Music and/or Theater?

  • EVERYONE IS WELCOME. MIT’s music and theater programs welcome all enrolled MIT students who wish to take a class in music or theater.
  • NO JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS. It is not required to major, minor, or concentrate in music or theater in order to take classes or participate in our performance ensembles. Once you are at MIT, you may register for music and theater classes and audition for as many or few performance groups as you wish.
  • YOU HAVE OPTIONS. You may audition for and participate in a broad variety of music and theater performance groups on a for-­‐credit or non-­‐credit basis.
  • EXCELLENT FACULTY. Our classes are taught and our student ensembles directed by active professional artists of the highest caliber.
  • DIVERSE PHILOSOPHIES. Our faculty celebrates its diverse approaches to theater and music making, and encourage students to develop their own methods, approaches and aesthetics.
  • ACCESS TO THE BEST. Our Emerson Private Study program in music offers qualified advanced performers an opportunity to audition for scholarships for private lessons with instructors from Greater Boston without the need for cross registration at other institutions.
  • COOL VISITING ARTISTS. An impressive roster of professional guest artists and ensembles perform, teach, and interact with students every year.
  • GREAT COMPANY. At MIT you are in the company of hundreds of talented, highly accomplished, dedicated students connected by a common interest in, and love of, music and/or theater.
  • BOSTON STRONG. MIT is located in a wonderful city that is culturally rich and diverse and offers its thousands of students boundless opportunities to experience all the arts. From the Boston Symphony and Ballet to myriad concert and theater venues and presenting organizations, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is also strong in the arts.

MIT Balinese Gamelan Galak Tika photo by Jonathan Sachs

MIT Music Student Comments About The Music Program

"Having participated in MITSO, the Chamber Music Society, and Emerson Scholarship Program this past year I can say that MIT offers such an amazing opportunity for musicians to continue pursuing their passion and learning more! I also have the chance to play with such amazing student musicians who also are pursuing some technical degree!"
Deepti Raghavan ‘17

"Besides meeting outstanding musicians, my favorite detour on the way to class is through the Building 4 corridor. Strolling by pianists, singers, and cellists on my way to class removes me from academics, and I find myself at home."
Alexandra Panov '17

"Setting aside time away from classes and studying where I can just immerse myself in music is one of the best decisions I've made here at MIT. I feel like I've gained an even greater appreciation for music through Concert Choir, and I plan on singing for my entire time here at MIT."
Isaac Garza '17

MIT Concert Choir photo by Jonathan Sachs

"MIT’s music program showed me that, in addition to the technical talent here, there exists a well-­‐populated set of skilled and passionate musicians on campus committed to experiencing and sharing great music."
Joseff Kolman ‘17

"MIT's music department provides resources to us in a way I would've never imagined for a tech school; the opportunities they've made possible have been a truly integral part of my experience here."
Austen Yueh ’17

"Playing with the Festival Jazz Ensemble helped me to become a better musician while having great fun with a dedicated and talented group of students."
Leonardo Banchik, '16

Rambax MIT Senegalese Drum Ensemble photo by Jonathan Sachs

"Being in the Emerson Scholarship program at MIT has been an amazingly unique experience that has allowed me to foster my love for solo piano music and build a meaningful relationship with my conservatory-­‐level private teacher while undertaking the difficult academics at MIT."
Dario Garcia-­‐Dominguez '15

"The MIT Music program truly has something for everyone: concert groups of every size and flavor, classes from harmony and counterpoint to electronic music composition to jazz harmony and arranging to improv, the Lewis Music Library, and more Steinways than I care to count. I've heard and participated in incredible music here, and it's been absolutely fantastic."
Katie Gertz '15

"I was surprised to find that MIT had so many musical ensembles that I could participate in. It has been great to find people who are also excited about music and to have fun making it together!"
QinQin Yu '15

ImageD.jpg Emerson Fellow and Festival Jazz Ensemble pianist Peter Godart

"After 13 years of piano before college, I didn't expect to continue playing instrumental music at MIT. I definitely didn't expect to learn Senegalese drumming, but here I am in MIT Rambax, and I'm loving every moment of it!"
Jane He '15

"MIT's music program has taught me more about dedicated pursuit and passionate practice than any other experience at MIT. The music professors are among the most knowledgeable, humble, and gifted teachers around. The hours I give to rehearsals and music classes are the happiest and most grounded hours I have."
Otto Briner, '15 , member of Festival Jazz Ensemble, Rambax, Balinese Gamelan

"Music theory with William Cutter was an incredible learning experience. He took us from calculating intervals and labeling triads to a more holistic approach that lets us see into the mind of the composer."
Alex Kiefer '15

"MIT’s atmosphere is inspiring and invigorating, but we all need balance to keep doing what we do. Both MITSO and music composition classes give my left brain a break a few times a week and give me something non-­‐technical to be excited about."
Brian Sennett B.S. 2013, M.Eng. 2014

MIT Wind Ensemble photo by Jonathan Sachs

"My music director in Concert Choir changed my musical trajectory at MIT and beyond. The vocal techniques he taught me set me up to become a section leader in the choir as well as a vocal director of gospel and pop singing groups outside the choir."
Victor Morales '14

"Playing in MIT's Balinese Gamelan for 3 years, I came to learn, appreciate, and enjoy a style of music very different from anything even remotely popular in the Western world. It was the ultimate hipster experience."
Jordan Goldstein '14

"Helping to premier original work by Peter Child was a challenging and rewarding experience."
Jon Barker ‘14

MIT Chamber Music Society photo by Jonathan Sachs

"Mark Harvey made MIT's Jazz classes extremely enjoyable and worth fitting into any semester. Certainly a good experience!"
Tyler Singer­‐Clark, '14

"The MIT Music experience far exceeded my expectations. There is a latent (and false!) assumption that MIT considers its students unable to handle a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, and the music department turns that on its head. I was not just challenged to access all aspects of my musical education, but also given the tools and connections with which I could elevate my musicality to new places."
Rishikesh Tirumala '14

"The music department is the best kept secret at MIT. This quietly brilliant faculty pushed me and encouraged my growth as a musician, and I developed my most meaningful relationships with the professors there."
Edan Krolewicz ‘14

"The Emerson Fellowship Program through MIT's Music and Theater Arts department has allowed me to study with one of the premier cello professors in Boston and perform annual solo recitals while pursuing a PhD in Oceanography - what a gift it has been to continue my musical studies at such a high level."
Ellie Bors, PhD Candidate, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography

MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble photo by Jonathan Sachs

"I could not have envisioned a more fulfilling and enjoyable musical education. The musicology, composition, and vocal performance opportunities were truly outstanding."
Davie Rolnick '12

"It’s great to play with people who are committed to their music, it’s awesome knowing they all know how to do calculus as well."
Michael Chen ’12

"Music at MIT is alive and thriving! There are very few programs where it is possible to work so closely with such distinguished, prolific, and inspirational faculty. As well, my fellow music students are one of a kind, and the adventures and journeys together— whether it's performing with the Boston Pops, recording at WGBH or singing in the Token Creek Festival— are just made better because of wonderful company. I will look back on my time in the Vocal Jazz Ensemble as one of the major defining parts of my MIT experience."
Ben Bloomberg '11

"The most useful classes I took at MIT were in music theory and history. They transformed my understanding of music, and even deepened my relationship to the sciences."
Andrew Wang '11

MIT Symphony Orchestra photo by Jonathan Sachs

"In MITSO, I play with fellow students who are also gifted in other areas ranging from astrophysics and computer science to various varsity sports to unique fields of research and interests. I love that what brings us all together is music."
Bina Choi ’11

"What I like best about and the world music offerings at MIT is the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the culture you are learning about."
Dorian Dargan ’11

"The Concert Choir is committed to excellence, and our fantastic director manages to inspire us to sing our best while keeping a very enjoyable atmosphere."
Joshua Hester ’11

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble photo by Jonathan Sachs

"The Music faculty never fails to impart excitement and passion for the material that they teach. This enthusiasm inspires students to take an active role in their musical studies whether they are inside the classroom, attending a concert, or performing on stage."
Simone Ovsey ’11

"The vocal offerings at MIT really cater to all types of choral singers. There’s definitely something for everyone."
Tammy Y. Ngai ’10

"Being a member of Chamber Chorus means that for three hours a week I don't have to worry about my homework, psets, upcoming exams... I can relax for a bit and enjoy something that gives my other hemisphere a workout."
Jared Sadoian ’10

MIT student on vibes photo by Jonathan Sachs

"Being in FJE is like having a family at MIT. We’re a tight group with a tight groove."
Jenna McKown ’10

"When I first came to MIT I left my trumpet at home – it was torture! Since then, I’ve been in MITWE for 7 semesters, and wishing I had time to do the other ensembles, too!"
Brandon Reese ’09

"The Chamber Music Society and Emerson Scholarship Program at MIT gave me an unparalleled opportunity to grow as a chamber and solo musician."
Sherman Jia ’06

MIT Student photo by Jonathan Sachs

"When I first came to MIT, I was surprised to find many musical ensembles of conservatory caliber at a predominantly technical school."
Thomas Coffee ’05

"Having chosen to attend MIT instead of a conservatory, I had resigned myself to vigorous academics with music ‘on the side.’ Yet four years later, I can list among my musical activities: studio accompanying, chamber music, voice lessons, master classes, chamber chorus, and opera scenes."
Eileen Huang ’05

"The special environment provided by the Music Program at MIT is changing the world in its own way, one engineer at a time."
Ken Goodson ’89

MIT Theater Student Comments about the Theater Program


I absolutely love the theater arts program at MIT. I took the Intro to Acting class this past semester with Professor Anna Kholer; it was a fabulous class! I really love acting and was very involved with it in middle school. By taking the Intro to Acting class, I was able to return to theater arts and revive my love for acting. I loved Anna's teaching style where she drew from her own acting experiences and taught us techniques and exercises she herself uses. The class was one of my most favorite classes in my first year. It was a great outlet and provided me a chance to be creative and enjoy myself. After such a positive experience this semester, I am really looking forward to minoring in theater arts!
Sabrine Ahmed Iqbal, Class of 2017

Intro to Acting was one of my favorite HASS classes. I looked forward to going to class and stretching my capabilities in a refreshing, challenging, and delightfully foreign way.
Pritee Tembhekar, Class of 2014

I took Intro to Acting last fall and it was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed Keely Eastley's teaching.
Evangelia Anna Markatou, Class of 2016


I took the intro to acting course with Kim Mancuso and learned so much about the role/job of an actor, not just about actors in general but also how to go about acting. Also, it is great practice to put yourself out there in front of other people as it builds confidence in one's own abilities.
Akash Agarwal, Class of 2016

What I liked most about the theatre arts program is the diversity of shows that are produced and the numerous opportunities for students to watch each other preform. Not only were they entertaining, but they gave my friends and peers the chance to share their passion”.
Sam Shames, Class of 2014

MIT Theater Arts department changed my life. Although small - ­but not as small as you think ­- the community is very vibrant and the classes are amazing. Professors are all very unique in style and because of the small size, I had a lot of opportunities to participate (not only in class but in productions), and learn despite the fact that I had little experience in high school. Majoring in Theater was one of the best choices I made at MIT.
HyoJeong Choi, Class of 2013

Theatre at MIT was a group of people with whom I could explore and unleash the loudest, weirdest, boldest sides of myself. I learned skills - like partnered dancing lifts and costume making - I'd never thought I'd try and given opportunities - like choreographing a show - I'll never forget. I loved being surrounded by such talented, creative, passionate people.
Emily Moberg, Class of 2011

The Pillowman

Theater arts was such a refreshing break from MIT. The costume shop became my escape, my place to do something productive while letting my brain rest. Leslie Held taught us her expertise in costuming seemingly without any effort on the part of the student or teacher, and made the whole experience extraordinarily fun. My only regret lies in not discovering this oasis till senior year.
Marie Herring, Class of 2011

The professors are amazing! Janet Sonenberg is not only an excellent teacher, but she also went out of her way to make sure I was doing okay during my first semester as a freshman when I was in her class of all seniors. I only had one lesson where I worked with Anna Kohler, but she still remembers me and smiles and says hello when I see her in the halls or at a show. All of the professors are so kind and really enjoy their work, which makes their classes incredibly enjoyable. I participated in a play freshman year, The Rogers Plan. It wasn't scripted, but rather a full-­‐ length improvised play. It was awesome! We did so much character work and so many individual and group exercises beforehand that we knew not only our characters, but also our fellow actors intimately by the time the show opened. The play itself was designed around MIT's architecture and important players in the history of the Institute, so while we developed the play I got to learn more about the roots of my new home. It was an amazing experience, and I had the opportunity to both grow as an actress and form relationships with upperclassmen that would last throughout the rest of my time at MIT."
Sarah Mayner, Class of 2015

"I took Intro to Acting (21M.600) with Wes Savick. The class was a highlight of my entire time at MIT. Professor Savick is a phenomenally gifted teacher. His warmth and guidance through a series of bizarre, unconventional, and occasionally uncomfortable exercises made the classroom a safe place to explore each and every one of my ideas, no matter how unusual. His teaching brought together a group of 15 confused strangers from totally different walks of life, and by the end we became comfortable trying new things with each other, learning and laughing from our mistakes and successes.
I've always loved film and a good acting performance, but taking the class gave me a much deeper understanding of the precise decisions that actors have to make, and the immense preparation an acting role requires. The things I learned in the class breathed new life into the movies I already loved, giving me a more detailed appreciation for the fine art of acting. Revisiting some of my favorite movies, I discovered a newfound admiration of actors mastering challenging roles (for instance, Marlon Brando as the fatherly mobster Don Corleone, Bryan Cranston as the loving father turned meth cook monster Walter White, or Gary Oldman as... everything). As a secondary yet direct consequence, the class taught me how to read people off-­‐stage, noting the minute non-­‐verbal cues from body language that people are always subconsciously giving off.
Make no mistake - I'm a software engineer in Silicon Valley. Stanislavski's theories of method acting don't directly apply to my career in systems engineering. However, the class has improved my ability to express myself, whether in public speaking, presentation, or simple day-­‐to-­‐day conversation.
David Kim, Class of 2013

ImageO.jpg Playwrights in Performance, Potential by Natalia Guerrero. Photo: Eurah Ko

I took Intro to Acting with Alan Brody freshman year. It was the best class, both fun and I learned a lot! I learned to manipulate my tone to convey different emotions through the voice exercises. The vocal works improved my enunciation, articulation, breathing, and allowed me to change my voice, resonance, and range depending on the specific vocal role demanded from me. The vocal, physical, and expression exercises taught me a lot about getting in touch with my body. It allowed me to let my impulses take over, it allowed me to ‘make a scene’, and reinvent someone else’s words. I would recommend this class to anyone!
Kezi Cheng, Class of 2015

I'd seen plays before coming to MIT, but I'd never thought about actually being involved in a production. After playing in the orchestra of Next Act freshman year, I realized that the actors seemed to be having a lot of fun! I joined Next Act as an actor the following year, which led to acting in more productions with the Gilbert and Sullivan Players, the Shakespeare Ensemble, and Dramashop. That, in turn, led me to take some wonderful acting classes with Anna Kohler and Olivia D'Ambrosio. But Alan Brody was the one who helped me find the way that I really fit into theatre: through playwriting. I was lucky enough to have two of my plays produced in MIT's Playwrights in Performance, and with that incredible experience under my belt, I plan to continue writing after college.
Neil Fitzgerald, Class of 2014

I took Voice and Speech for the Actor with Olivia D'Ambrosio in Spring 2014. It was quite honestly one of the most useful and fulfilling classes I had ever taken. MIT gets a little stressful sometimes and I tend to suppress my feelings, so of course, things build up every once in a while. Using the class material, Olivia helped me to open up as a more expressive person and speak from a place of meaning. There was no shyness and I could tell that each student felt safe to perform in front of the class, not because everyone was extremely confident, but because each person understood that there was absolutely no judgment. Yes, I learned several useful acting and speech techniques that I can definitely put to good use almost every day, but the personal development I gained from this class was invaluable.
Alecia Maragh, Class of 2015

As students in the Burchard Scholars Program, we participated in faculty-­‐led dinner seminars to talk about current humanities subjects in a more technologically based world. Topics have included the revival of South Asian American lost histories through web-­‐based media as well as the essence of morality through modern definitions of Saints, Heroes, and Villains. Science and the humanities are intrinsically linked in their application to people’s lives, and my appreciation in both fields has helped me better relate to others around me.
David Sanghyuk Han, Class of 2014

One Acts

I really enjoyed the Introduction to Acting class (21M.600)! I believe it really has the power to attract even the uninterested to the fundamentals and the beauty of acting. Moreover, this served me as the best class to make friends, thanks to the small size of class and much interaction with other students. Lastly, it was helpful for me to overcome stage fright and realize the fun of sharing my talents in front of others. In overall, 21M.600 was a pleasure for a whole semester. I would strongly recommend this class to anyone who is looking for a fun, easy-­‐going, and a helpful HASS class!
Sunny Lee, Class of 2015

The Day Earth Stood Still

Dramashop was a fantastic part of my MIT experience. What's particularly great is that because it's "co-curricular," you are acting/working behind the scenes with fellow students, but are also channeling the resources of the Theater Arts faculty - so you've got professionals working with you on costumes, sets, directing, etc., which takes it a step beyond your typical student production.
Bonnie Krenz, Class of 2010

The best experience I have had with the Theater Arts Department at MIT was Intro to Acting with Tommy Derrah. It was one of the most fun classes I have taken at MIT and Tommy had a talent for making his classes amusing and instructive. I feel like he brought out something new in each of his students."
Margaret Lattanzi-Silveus, Class of 2016