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Music Strikes a Chord for Aspiring Scientists, Engineers in Ensemble
Musica Nova Group — Composed of a Lineup of STEM Majors — Will Take Center Stage on Dec. 7

Maria Kiesewetter (right), a freshman biology major and a violinist in the Musica Nova ensemble, finds comfort from music. “It’s a beautiful thing to enjoy — without having to have some sort of end product that comes from it,” she said.

Even with tests, research, homework and meeting academic goals, an important part of the UT Dallas experience for many science and engineering students is the time they set aside for the arts. In fact, all of the students in the Musica Nova ensemble, which will perform Friday evening, are STEM majors who are drawn irresistibly to music.

“I’m doing it for the sake of the music and the stories it tells,” said Maria Kiesewetter, a freshman biology major who plays the violin in Musica Nova. “It’s a beautiful thing to enjoy — without having to have some sort of end product that comes from it. It’s just always there, which is comforting.”

Musica Nova Concert

As part of the Fall Student Arts Festival, the Musica Nova ensemble will perform a program that will include works by Luigi Boccherini, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Gabriel Fauré and Manuel de Falla.

Time: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7

Location: Jonsson Performance Hall

Admission: Free

For details on other festival events, view the full schedule

Musica Nova is the performance name of the advanced orchestra/chamber music ensemble, which performs once a semester. Dr. Robert Xavier Rodríguez, professor of music and Chair in Art and Aesthetic Studies, directs the group. He said the performers are in the orchestra not because of any requirement, but because they have a need for music and they make time for it.

“All of our Musica Nova musicians are scientists, bringing the musical qualities of discipline, imagination and digital dexterity to their work in the sciences. I want to help them develop these qualities and to nurture their love of music,” he said.

In addition to the science and engineering students who perform with the ensemble, this semester’s program, called Musique à la Mode, features Dr. Giacomo Iungo as an oboe soloist. Iungo is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Iungo said even in ancient history, music has always been part of the sciences and part of life.

“There’s always been a combination of music and science,” he said. “For example, there is a lot of math in music. I don’t think that someone who is not strong in math can really be successful in music. It’s an artistic way of doing math.”

Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor, said the school is committed to providing an environment that encourages all students, whatever their majors, to incorporate the creative arts in their education.

“There is a considerable body of evidence that participation in an advanced ensemble like Musica Nova is especially valuable for students pursuing majors in the sciences and engineering,” Kratz said. “Among the qualities of mind and soul that it nurtures are discipline and attentiveness to the role of others in performing works of complex beauty.

“As a member of Musica Nova once said to me: ‘Where else could I major in biochemistry and pursue my love of music under the tutelage of a world-renowned composer/conductor like Professor Rodríguez?’”

Media Contact: Phil Roth, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2193, [email protected] , or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].