President Shirley Ann Jackson hosted a reception for Rensselaer alumni, parents, students, and friends at Steinway Hall in New York City on Nov. 15. The evening included a performance led by Mary Simoni, dean of the Rensselaer School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS), and recognition of Simoni as a Steinway Artist.
According to Steinway, more than 90 percent of the world’s active concert pianists—over 1,600 artists—bear the title “Steinway Artist.” Each owns a Steinway. All prefer to perform on Steinway pianos. Simoni joins contemporary artists including Lang Lang, Diana Krall, and Billy Joel, as well as “Steinway immortals” such as Cole Porter, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Arthur Rubinstein, in bearing the title of All-Steinway Artist.
In 2016, Rensselaer joined more than 180 institutions on five continents designated as All-Steinway Schools, dedicated to providing the best instruments possible for the study of music.
Rensselaer, the nation’s first technological research university, recently launched a new degree program, the Bachelor of Science in Music. The program will expose students to the art of music in a global context—a form of creative expression that is integrally tied to other arts and technology disciplines.
The new degree is part of a larger campuswide initiative, led by President Shirley Ann Jackson and supported by HASS Dean Mary Simoni, to use the arts to enhance students’ capacity in their chosen majors, from mathematics to biology to engineering.
The program, called Art_X@Rensselaer, infuses education with the arts—by offering more opportunities to study artistic disciplines, like music, while expanding pedagogy and research with arts-inspired approaches to conceptual thinking. “Art_X is designed to help all of our students to see the art in, and of, science, and the science in, and of, art,” President Jackson says.
Simoni is the author of several books on electronic music composition, including Algorithmic Composition: A Guide to Composing Music with Nyquist, co-authored with Roger Dannenberg (2013: University of Michigan Press) and Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music (2006: Routledge). She is a 2002 Medal Laureate of the Computer World Honors Award for her research in digital music information retrieval.
Simoni’s music and multimedia works have been performed in Asia, Europe, and throughout the United States and have been recorded by Centaur Records, the music journal Leonardo, published by MIT Press, and the International Computer Music Association. She is the recipient of the Prize in Composition by the ArtNET Virtual Museum and was named semi-finalist for the American Prize in Composition-Chamber Music.
The performance at Steinway Hall included selections from George Gershwin, Charles Strouse, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, and more. Simoni was joined by Kimberley Dolanski Osburn (soprano), manager of operations and administrative services in HASS, and Rensselaer students Aidan Gorby ’19 (saxophones), a biology major preparing for a career in medicine; Alexander Shane Jones ’18 (upright bass), a senior majoring in applied mathematics, with a minor in finance; and Matthew Lamport ’19 (drums), a junior majoring in mechanical engineering.