Category: CFA Newsmakers

Boston University College of Fine Arts Announces Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Musical Theatre Fund

June 9th, 2014 in Alumni, CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Theatre

2014 Tony Award for Best New Musical: Producers Stewart F. Lane (’73) & Bonnie Comley, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder photo credit: Rob Rich

2014 Tony Award for Best New Musical:
Producers Stewart F. Lane (’73) & Bonnie Comley,
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
photo credit: Rob Rich

Year-long Celebration Planned to Honor Lane and Comley, $1 Million-Plus Lifetime Donors of BU, and the Launch of a Musical Theatre Track

Boston, MA – Boston University College of Fine Arts is pleased to announce the Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Musical Theatre Fund, a generous commitment from the Tony Award winners to launch a new musical theatre track within the School of Theatre, and to endow a new musical theatre curriculum in perpetuity at the College.

Stewart F. Lane (’73), Co-Chair of The College of Fine Arts Campaign and member of the College of Fine Arts Dean’s Advisory Board, and Bonnie Comley are long-time supporters of the College of Fine Arts. When combined with previous gifts, the endowment for the Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Musical Theatre Fund moves the couple into the ranks of $1 million-plus lifetime donors of Boston University.

BU College of Fine Arts is celebrating the gift and the generosity of Lane and Comley, two of the most prominent Broadway producers in American theatre today, through a series of special events planned throughout the 2014-2015 academic year.

“It fills us with enormous pride and satisfaction to provide the resources needed to create this new program for BU School of Theatre,” said Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley. “It’s an honor to impact the students’ growth and development as artists, and this enhancement in musical theatre studies will only make for more versatile actors and more possibilities for them in the field. We look forward to seeing the students and the program develop.

“We are very proud and honored to count Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley loyal champions of the College of Fine Arts,” says Benjamín Juárez, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Boston University. “They are truly passionate about the craft and about supporting young artists preparing for the profession. It is in this spirit of innovation that the Lane-Comley Musical Theatre Fund will help CFA to provide a more in-depth experience in this area of theatre and open up new opportunities for our students.”

Six-time Tony winner Mr. Lane and three-time Tony winner Ms. Comley collectively produced more than 40 Broadway productions, taking home the 2014 Tony Award for “Best Musical” for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder at last night’s ceremony. BU College of Fine Arts plans to celebrate the Broadway producers and their generous gift with a series of events starting this fall.

The first in the series of celebrations will coincide with New Repertory Theatre’s October 2014 production of Assassins directed by Jim Petosa at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA. This production by New Rep, a member of the BU School of Theatre Professional Theatre Initiative, features BU alumni in its acting company and design team. Petosa, Artistic Director of New Rep and Director of BU School of Theatre, will also host a symposium to explore American Musical Theatre, an event that will be open to both students and the general public.

BU College of Fine Arts continues the celebration with an event planned in December 2014 to coincide with the opening of the BU School of Theatre’s first musical since reception of the gift. A revival of the Galt McDermott musical adaptation of the classic Saroyan novel, The Human Comedy, opens in December at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts.

The celebration concludes in March 2015 when BU School of Theatre seniors travel to New York for Theatre Showcase, an annual event, funded in part by The Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Fund for Theatre Artist Development, which invites members of the professional theatre community to experience the work of the School of Theatre’s graduating MFA and BFA students.

In recent years, the School of Theatre has heightened the profile of the literature, history, practices, skills, and artistic opportunities of the musical theatre form within the School by offering a sequence of four courses in the form and producing a musical every other academic year. Through the Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Musical Theatre Fund, the School of Theatre will have the needed resources to provide a more comprehensive and enhanced program allowing students to experience specific-training in this area of theatre and complementing the School’s intensive acting education.

“We are so proud of Stewart and Bonnie’s many accomplishments in the Broadway arena,” says Petosa. “Their life-long commitment to the musical theatre form is now extended to the training of future generations of theatre artists through their legacy gift to the Boston University School of Theatre. Our ability to educate has been exponentially enhanced by this generous gift.”

With the gift the School of Theatre will consolidate and leverage the progress of recent years by offering an elective track in musical theatre as an option for both acting and theatre arts majors. This track will use elective credits that are required for both programs and is slated to begin in fall 2015. The fund will support the hiring of an additional adjunct faculty member, and the production of a large-scale musical as part of the School of Theatre’s annual programming.

The commitment, which will be paid over time, will provide seed money for the new initiative in musical theatre, and to establish the Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Musical Theatre Fund to provide annual support for the musical theatre track and assure its future at the School of Theatre.

Generous supporters of the arts, both at BU and other colleges and universities, Stewart F. Lane has been honored as one of Boston University’s most distinguished alumni, and the pair has a distinctive philanthropic profile of striking sparks, and planting the seeds. In recent years, the couple launched The Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Fund for Theatre Artist Development to support CFA’s annual Senior Showcase in New York City and renovated the historic Studio 210 black box space at the Boston University Theatre on Huntington Avenue, now named Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio 210 Theatre.

About Stewart F. Lane (B.F.A. ’73) and Bonnie Comley Co-Chair of The College of Fine Arts Campaign
Six-time Tony winner Mr. Lane and three-time Tony winner Ms. Comley collectively produced more than 40 Broadway productions including War Horse and Rome and Juliet. Stewart is the President of Theatre Venture, Inc. and President and Founder of Broadway HD. Lane and Comley received the 2013 Olivier Award for Best Musical for Irving Berlin’s Top Hat. Lane is also the owner and operator of The Palace Theatre in New York City. In 2002 he was awarded the Boston University Distinguished Alumni Award and he serves on the BU College of Fine Arts Dean’s Advisory Board. They reside in New York with their three children.

Lane and Comley’s production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, up for ten Tony Awards at last night’s ceremony, led the 2014 Tony Awards with more nominations than any other production. Nominations included: Best Musical; Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham); Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Lauren Worsham); Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Alexander Dodge); Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho); Best Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak); Best Orchestrations (Jonathan Tunick); Best Book of a Musical; and Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre.

Boston University College of Fine Arts presents three students with prestigious Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards

May 1st, 2014 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts

Boston, MA – Boston University College of Fine Arts is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award: Beth Willer from School of Music for choral conducting, Kayleigha Zawacki from School of Theatre for lighting design, and Hoda Kashiha from School of Visual Arts for painting. The winners each received $10,000 grants to help them transition into artistic careers following their graduation later this month. The awards were presented on Friday by Benjamín Juárez, Dean of Boston University College of Fine Arts.

Beth Willer plans to use the award money to design innovative programs that bring new relevance to existing art through the energy of contemporary perspective. Willer attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music Education and Trumpet Performance. While at BU, Willer’s skills as conductor and educator served her well as Founding and Artistic Director of the Lorelei Ensemble, a professional vocal ensemble in Boston focused on performing new and early music for women’s voices. With the Lorelei Ensemble Willer works to create ground-breaking artistic projects for singers and audiences that are rooted in awareness of community and social issues or needs, and are propelled by a collaborative spirit. In addition to spearheading the ensemble’s programming, Willer conducts collegiate ensembles at Harvard University and The Boston Conservatory, and has prepared choruses for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

Kayleigha Zawacki plans to use the award money to establish an artistic practice stemming from her thesis, Light Conversations, creating large-scale pieces using lighting technology, as well as sculpture, photography, audio, and more, to generate conversations about contemporary society. Inspired by the 1980s gay artist, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Zawacki plans to open a gallery space for the exhibition of these pieces and the work of other artists whose practices are similarly geared toward constructive social change. A 2014 Bachelor of Fine Arts candidate, Zacwacki served as this year’s lighting director for the American College Dance Festival Association New England Regional Conference. Also, while at Boston University, Zawacki has worked with numerous professional and youth theatre and dance companies including the Boston Center for American Performance, the professional extension of the School of Theatre at Boston University, as well as Cambridge Youth Dance, the Boston Community Dance Project, Dance2Save, Dheem, Tribe – The Dance Company, Boston University Academy, and the Massachusetts Dance Festival.

Hoda Kashiha plans to use the award money to establish a professional artist studio in New York City to encourage her mind to move beyond its own borders and fly to patterns of contemporary social issues which are the main aspects of her work. As an Iranian artist, Kashiha struggles with the balance of how much she should be loyal to her culture, and how much she should consider herself part of the global art world. The Kahn Award will bring Kashiha beyond the zero point, helping her join a community of different voices from different cultures; it will help Kashiha see the world of other artists and discuss the disturbances of their minds in order to experience new concepts in her own life and work. Originally from Iran, Kashiha earned her Bachelor of Arts in Painting at the University of Tehran before working towards her MFA in Painting at Boston University. While at Boston University, Kashiha has been included in several group exhibitions at Emerson College, the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts, and the Boston Young Contemporaries Competition. Her work has been shown globally at the Unexposed, Tour & Taxis show in Brussels, Belgium (2012), Over A Line at Homa Art Gallery in Tehran (2011), and Speak Farsi Greek at the ICC in Athens, Greece (2010).

The Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award Fund was established in 1985 with an endowed contribution of $1 million from Esther Kahn (SED ’55, Hon. ’86). Each spring, students completing their last semester of graduate or undergraduate studies are eligible to compete for the award. Deborah Kahn and Linda Green, the daughters of the late Esther and Albert Kahn, along with a faculty panel from CFA, selecte winners from through CFA to be awarded grants of $10,000. Kahn Award recipients have gone on to enjoy successful careers including singers, Stephen Salters, Dominque LaBelle, and Kelly Kaduce; violinist Mira Wang, actors Russell Hornsby and Ellen Harvey, scenic designer Antje Ellerman, designer Bethany Shorb, and painter Nicholas Lamia.

Boston University College of Fine Arts Soprano named Second Place Winner 2014 by The Metropolitan Opera BU School of Music and BU Opera Institute student, Katrina Galka, wins at the New England Regional National Council Auditions

February 6th, 2014 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music

Boston, MA – Boston University College of Fine Arts alumna and soprano, Katrina Galka, was awarded Second Place Winner 2014 in the New England Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at Jordan Hall.

Katrina Galka imageSponsored by the Metropolitan Opera, the National Council Auditions Program, is designed to “find exceptionally talented opera singers and to assist them in their development, to discover new talent for the Metropolitan Opera, and to search for possible participants in the Young Artist Development Program of the Met.”
Galka earned a B.M. degree from Southern Methodist University, where she attended with a full academic scholarship, and a M.M. degree from Boston University, where she is now in her first year at Boston University Opera Institute. Studying under Penelope Bitzas, Associate Professor of Music, Voice, at Boston University, Galka has performed in several BU Opera Institute productions including the roles of “Diana” in Jonathan Dove’s Siren Song, “Mrs. Julian” in Owen Wingrave, “Servilia” in La clemenza di Tito, “Aurore” in Massenet’s Le portrait de Manon and “Carolina” in Domenico Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto.
“Katrina’s beautiful voice and compelling artistry poise her for a stellar career,” remarks Bitzas.

Applicants of the New England Council Auditions “must have a voice with operatic potential; exceptional quality, range, projection, charisma, communication and natural beauty,” and be “prepared to sing five operatic arias in the original languages and keys and in more than one language and contrasting styles.”

Last summer Galka made her professional debut with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist. While there she played the role of “Isabel” in The Pirates of Penzance while also covering the role of “Mabel.” This upcoming summer she will return to OTSL as a Gerdine Young Artist, Festival Artist singing the role of “Papagena” in The Magic Flute and covering “Sister Constance” in The Dialogues of the Carmelites. Among Galka’s competition experience includes being a 2013 Regional finalist in the Metropolitan National Council Auditions (New England region) and second place in the 2012 Heida Hermanns International Voice Competition.

Following this most recent win, Galka will next be featured in the role of “Rosalba” in BU Opera Institute’s production of Florencia en el Amazonas. Loosely inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, the Daniel Catán opera follows the story of Florencia Grimaldi, an aging opera singer who embarks upon a steamboat journey down the Amazon River. As the journey progresses, the boat is beset by pink rain, foul waters, and the threat of a cholera epidemic. As Florencia and her fellow travelers are carried deeper into the jungle, they experience various revelations, until finally the diva’s spirit is transformed into a vast, emerald butterfly. Directed by William Lumpkin, the production runs February 20-23, 2014 at the Boston University Theatre.

“Katrina is a spectacular talent on her way to an extraordinary career,” says Lumpkin, Artistic Director of Boston University Opera Institute and Opera Programs.

Tickets now on sale: $20 general admission; $15 BU Alumni, WGBH members, Huntington Subscribers, senior citizens; $10 CFA Membership; $5 Students with valid ID; two free tickets with BU ID at the door, subject to availability. Box Office: or 617.933.8600.


BU Remembers Founding Director of BYSO Dr. Marvin Rabin (1916-2013)

December 13th, 2013 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music

Boston University College of Fine Arts mourns the passing of Dr. Marvin Rabin, former Professor of Music in BU School of Music and founding Music Director of Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO). Dr. Rabin passed away on Thursday, December 5th in Wisconsin at the age of 97 after a brief illness.

Dr. Rabin founded Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, now known as BYSO, shortly after joining Boston University faculty in 1958. From its inception, the youth symphony orchestra was recognized for its high artistic standards and for its model as a music education organization. Upon invitation from late President Kennedy in 1962, Dr. Rabin conducted a performance for the President and Mrs. Kennedy on the South Lawn of the White House.

Dr. Marvin Rabin conducting musicians on the South Lawn of the White House in April 1962.

Dr. Marvin Rabin conducting musicians on the South Lawn of the White House in April 1962.

Dr. Rabin spoke to The Boston Globe in October 1958 about the youth symphony founded at Boston University: “The policy is the general benefit of the student. What will help the student will be done, and the emphasis will be upon the musical progress of students and less upon the aim of merely working up concerts for purposes of display.”

“Dr. Rabin leaves behind an amazing legacy. Not only was he a beloved Professor of Music at BU School of Music, he was the visionary behind one of the most celebrated and emulated youth symphony orchestras in the country,” says Benjamín Juárez, Dean of Boston University College of Fine Arts. “We celebrate his legacy and the incredible work that BYSO continues today.”

BYSO is dedicating the January 19th semi-staged performance of Puccini’s “Tosca” to the late Dr. Rabin. A memorial service will be held on December 29 at the Unitarian Meeting House in Madison, Wisconsin.

Q&A The Soundtrack for Boston: BU Musicians Team Up to Make Classical Go Viral

December 2nd, 2013 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers

Last summer, BU students Courtney Miller, a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate and Ceylon Mitchell (CFA BM ’13, MME ’14) were pondering how to attract new audiences to classical music. It’s not unusual for music videos on YouTube to go viral, but would it work in their genre? And how could it work? Courtney and Ceylon looked to Boston for inspiration. What if they set their favorite scenes of the city and Boston University to music? In just six weeks, Courtney and Celyon’s video has had nearly 800 hits.

What prompted the project? What was the goal?
Courtney: Well, if I really like a pop song, then I will probably go to YouTube and check out the music video. With this project I wanted to show classical music in settings outside of the concert hall and to create a music video that people can watch and enjoy. And to be totally honest, to have a little fun in the process!
Ceylon: Courtney and I have been colleagues and friends at BU CFA School of Music for the last few years. This past summer we worked in the School of Music admissions office together. During that time, Courtney talked with me about multiple music projects she was interested in starting. One of the unique projects was creating “classical music” videos that would make this genre of music accessible, fresh, and entertaining for all audiences. Courtney approached me with the idea and I was thrilled to participate!

What inspired you to frame your music with images of Boston and BU and your interaction with scenes of the city?
Ceylon: Courtney made it clear to me that she wanted audiences to see her personality and love for Boston in these videos. During our musical studies at BU, this city has become our second home. My goal as the videographer was to make sure we captured and conveyed this emotional connection with music and iconic scenes that speak to our experiences as Boston University music students.
Courtney: I want to give Ceylon a serious shout out in regards to this question. We shot most of the video together at BU Central and around Boston, and then he had a stroke of inspiration/genius and did a second video shoot with rooftop views. This added footage adds so much beauty and perspective to the video!

What has been the reaction? Are you building new audiences with this approach?
Courtney: The reaction has been positive, which is really encouraging. I think that we are building new audiences and I hope to continue to do so. The YouTube analytics reveal that I’ve had views from all over the world, including places that I don’t have a personal connection with such as, countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South America.
Ceylon: The first video has been well received from a number of friends, colleagues, and BU faculty members. Even my non-music major friends have been very impressed and entertained by such a unique project. Internet views have been increasing on a daily basis.

How important is it for a musician today to interact with and relate to everyday life?
Courtney: It is a necessity! One of my personal missions as a classical musician is to connect with listeners in as many ways as I can. I want them to see that behind the formal settings in which we often perform and the crazy amount of practicing and work we do, that we are totally approachable and very down to earth.
Ceylon: Essential. Our constant job as musicians is to communicate with today’s audiences as well as make our music relevant and accessible to their experiences in life. Using visual means to convey musical ideas is a great idea of integration that only helps to further this communication.

Do you find that this idea of reaching new audiences is part of your approach as you focus on your career and new projects?
Courtney: Absolutely. People can’t listen to you if they don’t know you exist.
Ceylon: For myself, the answer is clearly yes. The more I can connect with new audiences, the stronger my network will be and the more fulfilling my life as a musician will be.

As you launch your career, what has surprised you the most?
Ceylon: The music world is very, very small.
Courtney: To add to what Ceylon said, it is pretty amazing that you see the same faces now that you did when you went to a summer festival back in high school. In many ways I think we are very fortunate because our career actually keeps us in contact with friends. It might take a few years, but odds are you are going to see them or play with them again in some professional setting.

What advice would you give young classical musicians?
Courtney: It is really important to enjoy your music. The art of music making calls for perfection and constant improvement, it can be easy to get lost in the many challenges and demands that you face. I think finding joy in playing your instrument and music is key.
Ceylon: Be open to learn and work with other colleagues. Take risks and try new musical ventures. You will only learn from these experiences.

What are you working on now?
Courtney: Finishing my Doctorate at BU is definitely a current project.
I recently signed a contract with Centaur Records to release my debut CD titled Modern Fairy Tales. In order to help prepare for this recording, I have several recitals planned, the first of which is Sunday Dec. 8th at 2:30 pm at BU in The Marshall Room.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ceylon and I have a couple more innovative music videos up our sleeve.
Ceylon: I am finishing the last semester of my Master’s degree in music education at Boston University and am currently student teaching at Boston Latin School near BU. I also direct the BU Flute Ensemble, teach private lessons and freelance. I am currently applying to graduate school for a second Master’s degree in flute performance for next fall 2014.

For more about Courtney and her projects, please visit

Q&A with Hila Landesman (CAS’13)

November 13th, 2013 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Visual Arts

Hila Landesman (CAS’13) majored in Economics and Environmental Policy as an undergrad at BU, but like so many, she was drawn to arts electives. Hila enrolled in Site Specific Design with Professor Hugh O’Donnell, an internationally recognized artist and Professor of Painting at BU College of Fine Arts since 1996. Inspired by the course, Hila decided to transform 22 classroom chairs in BU College of Arts & Sciences with the help of recruited artists, students from CFA, CAS, COM, and SMG, as well as some extra hands, including Hila’s little sister. The goal (of the aptly named Chair Project): create a welcome learning environment and spark collaboration and conversation across Boston University. The outcome: a transformation that no one could have predicted.

Where did you get the inspiration for the project?
My inspiration for the Chair Project came from a combination of wanting to change classrooms at CAS, seeing student and alumni work displayed around CFA and COM, and well-known public art projects like ‘Cow Parade’ and ‘Play Me I’m Yours.’ I combined what I loved to change what I didn’t.

What prompted you to take the Site Specific Design course?
When I knew I could complete my double majors – Economics and Environmental Policy – successfully, I started taking as many art and design courses as possible at COM and CFA. I wanted to be around different people with different interests and backgrounds. While looking at courses for my final semester at BU, the word ‘interdisciplinary’ caught my eye in the course description of Site Specific Design. Sure enough, the course was filled with students from various majors with different ideas and goals. It was very exciting!

How did the Registrar’s Office get involved?
After putting together a proposal for the Chair Project, I started searching for the right person to grant me permission to proceed. Turns out, the BU Registrar, Jeff Von Munkwitz-Smith was the man I needed to speak with. I’m so happy that I got to meet him. He was so excited about the project and supportive from day one.

You enlisted the help of other students as well from a variety of majors and Schools. Tell us about them.

Working with all the different artists was inspiring. I loved seeing the ideas that each artist came up with and observing each artist’s process. I started out by asking two other students in Site Specific Design – both Business majors, followed by two students in the Sculpture Studio course I was taking. After that, I was given a studio in the painting wing of CFA, where I was surrounded by talented painters who I approached based on the work I saw in their studios. I also enlisted one student from the Site Specific Design course the following semester. Two of the artists are my very talented friends from outside of BU, and two other artists are my sisters, the younger of which is 11 years old!

What has the reaction been to the chairs?
People seem to be pretty excited. I’m living in NYC now so from a distance, I’ve been reading posts on Instagram and Twitter that use #thechairproject. Some of the best include “The one thing that will get me to class early #myseat,” “Whoever painted this desk made my day!” and “Look at this beautiful desk brightening up my [organic chemistry] discussion.”

However, my favorite reaction so far actually came from the night-shift facilities crew when I was installing the project. They were so excited to see the chairs and were hoping this would be the first wave of many chairs to come. These chairs made their night of cleaning and organizing classrooms so much more exciting. One of the women told me, “There should be at least four chairs in every class!”

From start to finish, how long did the project take?
The Chair Project took much longer than anticipated – a year and half total. You know, life happens, and things never go quite as planned.

What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge by far was finding motivation to keep going with the project and to see it through to the end, despite what was happening in my life. Having great ideas and big visions is easy – actually finishing what you start takes a lot of discipline and it’s not always fun.

What surprised you the most about the project?
I was advised to test all my materials before using them but I didn’t realize how very crucial that advice was. Knowing your materials (and a little bit of chemistry) is really, really important! For example, did you know what polyacrylic makes sharpie marker run because sharpie is alcohol based. Well, now you do!

How has the Chair Project transcended art and become a metaphor for cross-disciplinary collaboration?
The Chair Project enabled me to include a variety of talented people in creating the chairs and to communicate with several offices and departments across BU. However, throughout my time at BU I encountered situations where my desire to connect two different interests or fields was met with resistance. For example, I’ve heard comments including, “Why are you studying Environmental Policy? That’s the opposite of Economics”

I want to dispel the notion that one field of study is better than or at odds with another. Every field must use the knowledge acquired by those in other fields to advance and develop. Working on the Chair Project made me feel like the superficial barriers I previously encountered were gone. This is an experience that all students should have. Collaboration and communication across departments and schools should be the norm, not the exception. I hope that the Chair Project can help start conversations about ways to increase teamwork and partnerships at BU and make the BU community more unified.

How did the Site Specific Art course and the Chair Project impact your experience as an undergrad?
Taking Site Specific Design during my last semester at BU was perfect for me because it tied together so many different themes from my time at BU and gave me an opportunity to meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I definitely feel more connected to BU now and more invested in the improvement of students’ learning experiences than before starting the Chair Project.

Overall, this entire experience was a real privilege for me. I’m very grateful to everyone that helped make this project a success.

What would you tell someone thinking of taking a course outside their primary discipline?
DO IT!!!!! After college, everything you do is interdisciplinary. Get ahead and start now!

Do you have a favorite chair?
They’re all so different – it’s hard to compare.

I’ll tell you about the first chair of the project, which I made. It’s the white(ish) chair with the yellow, blue, and red legs. (Speaking of knowing your materials, the reason that chair isn’t more white, is because polyurethane adds a yellowish tint to things – now I know that from experience.) The designs on that chair are my signature doodle – those doodles filled my school notebooks for years. If you look closely, I always embed words into the designs. For example, one thing I wrote on this chair is, “What are you having for lunch?”

As you embark on a career, how has the Chair Project prepared you?
The Chair Project gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to succeed and to think outside the box. Like with any big, collaborative project, the Chair Project gave me a experience in organizing ideas and information, communicating with different people, planning, adjusting expectations, and following through. The Chair Project also forced me to do things I didn’t think I could do like creating a website.

The Chair Project also helped me land my first job in NYC at a design firm a few months back. Two weeks ago, the Chair Project was reincarnated at one of the schools where I currently teach. High school students are starting to create chairs that relate to their identity. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished products!

For more about the Chair Project, please visit Hila’s site.

The Chair Project in the News:
“Chair Project” BU Today
“BU Alum Launches Project to Spruce Up ‘Drab’ Classroom Desks” The Brookline Tab

Symphony World Series features two members of the CFA Community

October 24th, 2013 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music

When it comes to the Symphony World Series, The College of Fine Arts is happy to say that we have starting players on both teams!
Congratulations to Karin Bliznik SOM ’06, who leads up the St. Louis Symphony portion, and School of Music Tuba Professor/Boston Symphony member Mike Roylance!

Boston University College of Fine Arts announces Are We Listening?

September 13th, 2013 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music

School of Music presents symposium on music, change, and challenge — October 25–26

Boston, MA – The School of Music at the College of Fine Arts at Boston University is pleased to announce Are We Listening?, a symposium on music, change, and challenge — October 25–26, 2013.

Are We Listening?
A symposium on music, change, and challenge.
Presented by Boston University School of Music
Dates: Friday, October 25 – Saturday, October 26, 2013
Keynote Speaker: Greg Sandow, veteran critic, composer and member of the Graduate Faculty at Juilliard, who specializes as a writer, teacher, speaker, and consultant on the future of classical music.
Location: Boston University (855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215)
Free and open to the public. Register now at

Are We Listening? brings together School of Music faculty, students, and alumni with industry experts, musicians, educators, music scholars, and composers to address and explore the challenges and opportunities for this and the next generation of musicians. This two-day conference focuses on key issues for today’s musicians including: effective entrepreneurship models, the ethics of music degrees, the future of the orchestra, music for social change, and audience building.

“In a very short time, entire music industries have to find new avenues for disseminating music, reaching audiences, and developing support,” said Richard Cornell, Director ad Interim, School of Music. “Which new models are proving sustainable? Is music finding new functions in society? How do we reach our audience in an age where conventional media are also looking for new models?”

“As musical institutions grapple with these changes, some experiments fail and others succeed. In this symposium, musicians and their colleagues consider the current impacts of economic forces, social change, technology, digital culture, and other factors on the way they practice their art.”

The School of Music welcomes veteran critic, composer, and member of the Graduate Faculty at Juilliard, Greg Sandow to give the symposium Opening and Closing Keynotes. Sandow specializes as a writer, teacher, speaker, and consultant on the future of classical music.

Session topics include:
A Degree in Music: The Ethics of Educating Professional Musicians
The Philanthropy Fix: Delivering to Donors; Orchestra Evolution: Status Quo, Survival, Solution
The Citizen Artist: Music and Social Engagement
Sustainable Entrepreneurship: What Models Work
Inside the Industry: The Shifting Landscape of Recording and Publishing
Building New Audiences: Marketing, Music, and Millennials
The Multimodal Musician: The Success of Adaptability.

Are We Listening? closes Day 1 of the symposium with a special performance by the Boston University Symphony Orchestra at the Tsai Performance Center.

Boston University Symphony Orchestra
David Hoose, conductor | Peter Zazofsky, violin
Date and Time: Friday, October 25, 8pm
Program: Robert Schumann, Symphony No. 1 in B-flat, “Spring”; Joan Tower: Violine Conerto; Edward Elgar: Cockaigne (In London Town)
Location: Tsai Performance Center
Free and open to the public.

On Day 2 of the symposium, the BU Arts Initiative and Barnes & Noble at Boston University celebrates BU Authors with short readings and casual conversation with four BU Authors including CFA School of Music Professor and author of Recondite Harmony: Essays on Puccini’s Operas, Deborah Burton.

BU Arts Initiative and Barnes & Noble at BU Celebrate Authors
Date: Saturday, October 26, 1–3pm
Location: 24 Cummington Street (LSEB), Room 103
Free and open to the public. All books will be for sale on site with a 10% discount for Boston University Alumni.

For symposium information, a complete schedule of events, and registration, please visit


July 24th, 2013 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music

Victor Coelho, CFA Musicologist, guitarist and specialist on the Rolling Stones, will lead the Rooster Band in a tribute to the country music of the Rolling Stones at the Foundation Room of the House of Blues. The event, billed as a “Stones-Apolooza,” was organized by Bernie Corbett, the voice of BU hockey, to celebrate Mick Jagger’s 70th birthday, but also to shine a light on three recent and forthcoming books on the Stones by Corbett, Bill Janowitz (of Buffalo Tom fame), and Coelho, whose Cambridge Companion to the Rolling Stones will be published next year. Coelho, has appeared in documentaries about the Stones has also taught a popular course at BU on the group since 2006.

The Rooster Band was formed by Coelho in 1998, and for ten years toured with Chicago blues legend Lou Pride, appearing with him at BU almost yearly until Pride’s death last year.

Doors open at 6:30 pm and tickets are available at the door.

House of Blues
Foundation Room
15 Lansdowne Street

Citizen Artist and CFA alumnus Daniel Han gives impromptu performance with The Philadelphia Orchestra on delayed airplane flight

June 18th, 2013 in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music

When CFA alumnus Daniel Han and a group of musicians from The Philadelphia Orchestra found themselves delayed on the tarmac for three hours waiting for their flight from Beijing to Macao as part of the 2013 Residency & Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China, the quartet decided to provide a “pop up” performance for the passengers. Cramped in the aisles, the quartet performed at awkward angles to avoid hitting the seats and overhead bins. Fellow passengers were on board with the performance, holding the music for the musicians who performed a movement from Dvorak’s American Quartet.

Video footage of the performance has been a social media sensation. Posted on Friday, June 7th, the video has received nearly 2 million hits on YouTube.