Hopkins’ Center’s STEM Arts: Science & Music Collaborations


Arts / Aug. 10, 2017 11:34am EDT

Composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Carla Kihlstedt will collaborate with the Dartmouth Environmental Studies Program. (Provided) Composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Carla Kihlstedt will collaborate with the Dartmouth Environmental Studies Program. (Provided) How do STEM fields–science, technology, engineering and mathematics– inspire music, and vice versa?

This question is at the heart of STEM Arts, a groundbreaking program by the Hopkins Center for the Arts in which innovative young composers “embed” among STEM subject faculty and students and, from that, create a new musical work, premiered at Dartmouth.

Now in its fourth year, STEM Arts projects have involved such emerging composers and Dartmouth departments as Fay Wang (2013-14) and the Department of Biological Sciences; Tristan Perich (2015-16) and the Department of Mathematics; and Molly Herron (2015-2017) and the Thayer School of Engineering.

New Collaboration

The Hop has announced the release of a new film following Herron’s collaboration with Thayer, as well as the start of the next phase of STEM Arts—composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Carla Kihlstedt’s collaboration with the Dartmouth Environmental Studies Program. Kihlstedt will start working with environmental studies this fall, and the resulting work will premiere in the 2018-19 academic year.

“This project demonstrates the parallel creativity that goes on between scientists and composers,” said Hop Programming Director Margaret Lawrence, who worked with environmental science faculty to select Kihlstedt. “We’re excited to work with many Dartmouth STEM faculty—and, much like the sciences, we don’t restrict the directions these composers may go. Carla, who is already working on her own song cycle about the ocean’s health, is deeply committed to environmental issues.”

As with previous STEM Arts projects, Kihlstedt’s work is funded by the Hop’s Mellon Foundationfunded initiative to more broadly engage students in the arts, especially classical music. Each STEM Arts collaboration has taken its own form, based on the interests of the composer and the faculty and students with whom they were embedded.

Born in 1971, Kihlstedt went from extensive studies in classical violin to a career as a prominent violinist, vocalist and composer in both classical and improvised music.

She is a recognized classical composer who has performed with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), has worked occasionally on projects with Tom Waits and Fred Frith, and recorded numerous albums as a guest or session musician.

Current and recent projects include a cycle of songs inspired by research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a choral work about the life cycle/journey of herring returning upstream to spawn.

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