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Visiting Arts Professionals

 Muse Scholars meet and interact with professionals from a diverse range of arts disciplines who are invited to campus to speak with students. Guests have included visual artists, composers and writers in addition to those on the business and marketing side of the arts. Please read below to read about some of the distinguished guests who have visited with the Muse Scholars.


William Anastasi, Conceptual Artist

Considered one of the founders of both Conceptual and Minimal Art, William Anastasi visited with the Muse Scholars during a special tour of the exhibit William Anastasi: Sound Works, 1963-2013 at the Leubsdorf Art Gallery at Hunter College. The Department of Art & Art History organized this special event.

One of the key figures in the development of Conceptual, Process and Minimal Art since the 1960s, Anastasi has investigated the status, autonomy and representational function of the art object.  Bringing together works from 1963 to the present, Sound Works marked the first comprehensive exhibition to focus exclusively on Anastasi's varied use of and engagement with sound.



David Benedict, Culture Critic

British culture critic David Benedict visited with the Muse Scholars during the Fall 2014 semester to discuss that year's production of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, starring Glenn Close and John Lithgow, which the Muse Scholars attended as part of their Muse Freshman Seminar.

Benedict has written extensively for The Guardian, The TimesSunday TimesWall Street Journal EuropeEsquire and Elle. He is a founding editor of the UK theatre broadcast website and wrote and presented a film with Rufus Wainwright for BBC TV's The Culture. In addition, he read drama at Hull University and spent ten years as an actor and director. He joined the UK's The Independent in 1993 as the daily arts critic, subsequently becoming associate arts editor and theatre editor. He later became arts editor of The Observer, the founding critic and deputy arts editor of Bloomberg News and, in 2006, chief London critic of Variety.



Scott Alan Evans, Artistic Executive Director, The Actors Company Theatre (TACT)

Scott Alan Evans visited the Muse Scholars during the Fall 2015 semester to discuss his work with this theatre company that specializes in producing overlooked works by distinguished playwrights. He addressed the company's latest production, Beth Henley's Abundance, about two women who travel to the Wyoming Territories during the westward expansion of the United States, which the scholars saw during an evening performance at the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row.

A founding member of TACT, Evans  produced and/or directed over 140 forgotten or neglected plays, bringing many back to the cannon of plays produced. The company has garnered consistent critical praise and was named “Company of the Year” by The Wall Street Journal in January 2013 for the quality of its work: “Smart programming, superlative productions, a track record of consistent excellence: TACT is what Off-Broadway ought to be.”

In addition to his work with TACT, Evans wrote & directed the musical, Goose! Beyond the Nursery (3 Outer Critic Circle Award nominations including Best Off-Broadway Prod). Other recent NY Theatre: Joseph Hayden’s The Seven Last Words… (Chamber Music Society – Lincoln Center); She Stoops to Conquer, The Constant Wife (NYU Grad. Acting).



Gino Francesconi, Director, Archives & Rose Museum, Carnegie Hall

Gino Francesconi visited the Muse Scholars during the Spring 2015 semester to speak about his work with Carnegie Hall; after his visit, the scholars visited the renowned Manhattan institution to see a performance by the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

Francesconi. began his association with Carnegie Hall as an usher, in 1974.  While attending school with piano and conducting as his primary focus, he held various positions at the Hall including backstage artist attendant where he assisted hundreds of artists who appeared at the Main Hall such as Frank Sinatra, Leontyne Price, Vladimir Horowitz, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, and Yo-Yo Ma. In 1986, he undertook the responsibility of establishing Carnegie Hall's archives in anticipation of the Hall's 1990-91 centennial season. Since no archives existed prior to 1986, much of the Hall's documented history was lost.  Gino's main goal at that time was to find enough material to curate one retrospective exhibition during the centennial year at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

So much material was gathered -- through advertisements, letters, flea markets, former employees, antique fairs, and donations from the public at large -- that nine separate exhibitions were presented throughout New York City that season. A donation of one of Benny Goodman's clarinets by his daughters and a $1.5 million donation by Susan and Elihu Rose, led to the creation of the Rose Museum at Carnegie Hall opening with a Tchaikovsky exhibition 100 years to the day the composer arrived in New York from Russia to participate in the opening of Carnegie Hall. This was the first time the Russian government had loaned Tchaikovsky documents abroad. In addition to a permanent exhibition of Carnegie Hall, Francesconi has curated more than 25 temporary exhibitions in the museum displaying more than $100 million worth of loaned music manuscripts never before on display in the United States. In January 2012, the Archives was awarded grants for a three-year project to digitize its major collections. The department now has a staff of four and has grown from a few boxes of material to hundreds of thousands of items. More than 50,000 events are catalogued in an ever-growing database, part of which can now be researched online.


Jeanine Tesori, Theatre Composer

American musical theatre composer, arranger, pianist and conductor Jeanine Tesori visited with the Muse Scholars during the Spring 2014 semester to discuss her work on that year's production of Violet, the revival of her 1997 musical by the same title. The Muse Scholars attended Violet on Broadway, which won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.

Tesori has been thrice nominated for the Tony for her Broadway scores: Twelfth Night (1998) at Lincoln Center, Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002) at the Marquis, and Caroline, or Change (2004) at the Eugene O'Neill. The 1997 producation of Violet was nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding New Musical and won the Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical, the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical, and a Special Obie Citation for Tesori's music. In the field of film, she has composed new songs for The Emperor's New Groove 2: Kronk's New Groove (2005), Wrestling With Angels (the 2006 documentary about Tony Kushner), Shrek the Third (2007), and three animated Disney DVDs (Mulan II, Lilo and Stitch II, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning). She also wrote the scores for Show Business: The Road to Broadway (2007) and Nights in Rodanthe (2008). 



Lucy Thurber, Mentor, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

Lucy Thurber visited the Muse Scholars during the Fall 2014 semester to lead a theatre workshop to prepare the students for themes they would encounter in Pitbulls, a production the students saw at Rattlestick's playhouse in Manhattan.

Lucy Thurber is the author of twelve plays: Where We’re Born, Ashville, Scarcity, Killers and Other Family, Stay, Bottom of The World, Monstrosity, Dillingham City, The Locus, The Insurgents, Perry Street and The Unfinished. The Atlantic Theater Company has produced Bottom of The World and Scarcity. They also developed Bottom of the World at Perry-Mansfield. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater has produced five of her plays, Where We’re Born, Killers and Other Family, Ashville, Scarcity, and Stay, and produced a critically acclaimed revival of Killers and Other Family in 2009, directed by Caitriona McLaughlin. Lucy has twice collaborated with the director Lear DeBessonet, both on Quixote, a site-specific performance with the Psalters made for and with The Broad Street Community in Philadelphia, and also on her play Monstrosity for 13P. She has had reading and workshops at Manhattan Theatre Club, The New Group, Primary Stages, MCC Theater, PlayPenn, New River Dramatists, Tribeca Theater Festival, Eugene O’Neill, The Public Theater and Soho Rep. She was a playwright in residence at The Orchard Project. Scarcity was published in the December 2007 issue of American Theatre, and acting editions of her work are published by Dramatists Play Service. Lucy is a member of MCC Playwrights Coalition and Labyrinth Theater Company. She is an alumni of New Dramatists and 13P. She is a recipient of the Manhattan Theatre Club Playwriting Fellowship, The Gary Bonasorte Memorial Prize for Playwriting and a LILLY Award. Lucy has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, Yale Rep, The Contemporary American Theater Festival and Houses On The Moon. She also teaches playwriting at NYU.



Michael Vahrenwald, Photographer

Michael Vahrenwald visited with the Muse Scholars during the Spring 2014 semester to discuss his photography, which has been shown at a variety of venues including the Whitney Museum, The Walker Art Center, The Carnegie Museum of Art, the Yale School of Architecture and the Nerman Museum. 

He currently teaches Photography at The Cooper Union and The Hartford Art School, where he is an Assistant Professor. He has previously taught at Bard College, Sarah Lawrence College, The International Center of Photography and  SUNY Purchase. He studied fine art at The Cooper Union and Photography at Yale University. His work has been published in Blind Spot, Camera Austria, Flash Art, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek and is featured in the Philosophical book: Looking Away, Phenomenality and Dissatisfaction, Kant to Adorno by Rei Terada: Harvard University Press.