September 20th-26th: Robert Freeman inauguration and moreSeptember 20, 2021
1973: Inauguration of Robert Freeman as Director
The inauguration of Robert Freeman as the Eastman School’s fourth Director on September 20th, 1973 marked the beginning of a new era for the school. The evening ceremony in the Eastman Theater concluded two days of festivities which are outlined in the Inauguration program, here presented in its entirety. The inauguration events had begun on September 19th with musical performances and with a highly publicized panel discussion in Kilbourn Hall under the title “Should Music Survive?”. The four panelists, each one a distinguished professional in his field, were generously quoted in print the following day by the staff music writer for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The same topic of discussion was taken up in two further sessions on September 20th, each with a new set of panelists, and the last session being moderated by Eastman School Director Emeritus Howard Hanson (photo seen here). (Curiously, both of Rochester’s daily newspapers, the now-defunct Times-Union and the Democrat & Chronicle—erroneously referred to Freeman as the Eastman School’s third Director.)
The inauguration ceremony on September 20th, over which University Chancellor W. Allen Wallis presided, began with the conferral of honorary degrees on Edward Cone, Fernand Gillet, and Ralph Kirkpatrick. (Photos of Professor Kirkpatrick being hooded are displayed here.) There followed a performance by the Eastman Wind Ensemble of Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, conducted by Dr. Freeman himself, representing a unique gesture in what was otherwise his installation as chief executive officer. Moving on to his inaugural address, the new Director spoke at length on the challenges facing musicians and the imperative of the musical world to reform if it were to survive. (Dr. Freeman was quoted at length the following day in the Rochester press.) Following his inaugural address, Dr. Freeman’s first official act as the newly installed Director was to announce the institution of a new series of ESM-sponsored concerts and recitals such as would encourage and foster the performance careers of recent Eastman graduates, and also to announce the establishment of the Kilbourn Professorship, and naming Zvi Zeitlin as the first faculty member to hold the new Professorship (1974-75). Mssrs. Zeitlin and Freeman immediately took the stage to offer an unprogrammed performance of Stravinsky’s Duo Concertant. Their violin/piano collaboration that evening would be the first of several collaborations in the ensuing years.
Local commentary on the Freeman inauguration was glowing and optimistic. Two days after the ceremony, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle proclaimed the Freeman inauguration “a significant event in music.” The unsigned editorial noted that the new Director had achieved “some significant bridgebuilding across the streams of music” in demonstrating his multi-faceted professionalism: “The conductor, the performer, the scholar, and the educator were all represented in one man.” Several days later, Director Emeritus Hanson praised Freeman in his semi-frequently appearing column in the Rochester Times-Union. Hailing Freeman as “a gifted conductor, a splendid pianist, and a distinguished scholar and speaker,” Dr. Hanson maintained that finding “. . .a distinguished scholar who is also an artist in performance — or an artist who is also a distinguished, creative scholar — is, even in this age of enlightenment, unusual and heartening.” Hanson closed his column with the iteration of a challenge, echoing a theme that had run through the two days of inauguration festivities: “The battle for great music is not over. It is just beginning. Musical scholars and performers must fight together for its survival.”
1970: Reception for new freshmen (members of the class of 1974)
On September 25th, 1970, members of the new freshman class—the future class of 1974—were hosted by Eastman School Director Walter Hendl and Mrs. Hendl at Hutchison House on East Avenue.
Hutchison House, the gracious mansion at 930 East Avenue immediately next door to the George Eastman House, was at that time the official residence of the Eastman School Director. It had been named for its former owner, Charles Force Hutchison, a long-serving employee of Eastman Kodak Company and personal friend of George Eastman who also served as a UR trustee and as a member of the Eastman School’s Board of Managers. Mr. and Mrs. Hutchison gave the house to to the University of Rochester in 1951, and after 1964 it became the official residence of the Eastman School Director; both Mr. Hendl and his successor, Robert Freeman, resided there. The image of Hutchison House graced the front cover of the Eastman School’s 1954 yearbook. (! The Eastman School yearbooks have been digitized, and you can access the entire sequence online ).
During the years of official Eastman School residency, numerous functions were held at Hutchison House, whether for musicians and ensembles (both resident and visiting), patrons of music, students, and civic groups, such as the Civic Music Association (forerunner of today’s Rochester Philharmonic Association). The house was particularly busy during the Eastman School’s 1971-72 fiftieth anniversary year, when two or three functions per week were held there, each event involving any number of guests from ten to 400. On a more domestic level, Mr. and Mrs. Hendl’s home life at Hutchison House was described in the local press.
Further information about the Eastman School’s involvement with Hutchison House will be shared in a future entry of TW@E. In the meantime, if you see yourself in any of these photos, or if you can identify any of your classmates, please email us and let us know!
1977: PRISM IV concert “Fanfare”
On September 26th, 1977, the Eastman School staged a PRISM concert in the Eastman Theater, the fourth such concert since 1975. “FANFARE” was the title and theme of the 1977 PRISM concert; the printed program is displayed here in its entirety.
PRISM was a performance concept devised in 1975 by the Conducting and Ensembles Department; Donald Hunsberger and Rayburn Wright were the co-chairmen of the founding committee, assisted by eight of their colleagues. The basic PRISM concept was expressed thus in the printed program: “PRISM . . .music heard in juxtaposition, without the interruption of applause, without the limitations of the proscenium stage. . .shared performances heard in new ways. . .as through a PRISM.” Two key aspects of the concept were the continuous performance of music, without intervening applause, and the use of the total space, not confined to the stage alone. As a result, groups and ensembles were situated in positions throughout the ET house and balcony, as seen in these photos.
There would be several more PRISM concerts in later years. Future entries in TW@E will share further information.
2001: Concert in Memory of 9/11
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the ESM rallied at once to render support to those in need and to honor those whose lives had been lost. Later in the week, Director and Dean Jim Undercofler invited the community to gather in the Main Hall one noon hour for a time of reflection. Local pastor Deborah Fae Swift of the Calvary St. Andrew’s Presbyterian congregation offered [words of comfort], and Professor Steven Doane performed an unaccompanied selection on the violoncello.
On Sunday, September 23rd, a near-standing room only capacity audience gathered in the Eastman Theater for a performance of the Mozart Requiem organized by Dr. William Weinert and other faculty members. The Eastman Philharmonia under conductor Dr. Weinert were joined by four soloists—one Eastman School faculty member, one Eastman Community Music School faculty member, and two Hochstein School faculty members—and a chorus of almost 200 singers drawn from the Eastman School and from member choruses of the Greater Rochester Choral Consortium. Dr. Weinert was the conductor. Donations taken up on the day of the concert amounted to more than $ 9,000 in aid of the Red Cross. A CD service copy of the September 23rd concert is available for listening in the Sibley Music Library (shelved at the Recordings/Reserves department under call no. SMO 0919). Due to the Concert Office’s printing deadline, a list of the choral personnel was not available to be included in the printed program. ! Readers who happened to participate in the concert by volunteering their voices in the chorus are invited to contact us and let us know for archival purposes.
In the following week, on October 5th, the Voice Department organized An Evening of Opera as a benefit concert in aid of the Red Cross. Voice majors and collaborative pianists performed sixteen selections from the operatic repertory before a supportive audience in Kilbourn Hall.
In the weeks following 9/11, the UR’s Rochester Review carried news of the impact of the attacks on the University community at large, and paying tribute to those six alumni whose lives had been lost.