Harris receives Hall of Fame Award from Conductors Association
Fred Harris Jr., conducting the MIT Wind Ensemble
Frederick Harris Jr., Music Director of MIT’s Wind and Festival Jazz ensembles, and Director in the School's Music section, recently received the 2010 Paul Smith Hall of Fame Award from the Massachusetts Instrumental & Chorus Conductors Association.
Musical and personal inspiration
Named after an esteemed former director of music in the Abington, Massachusetts school system, the Paul Smith Hall of Fame Award is presented annually to a Massachusetts music conductor who is a musical and personal inspiration to students, the community, and other professional conductors. Harris accepted the award March 19, 2010 at the Massachusetts Music Educators statewide conference, which was held in Boston.
"We are thrilled that Fred has received the Paul Smith Hall of Fame Award," said Ellen Harris, head of the Music and Theater Arts section. "This recognition, which singles him out among instrumental and choral conductors statewide, is well-deserved and reaffirms our own sense of the extraordinary ability, innovation, and excellence that Fred brings to the Wind and Jazz ensembles at MIT."
“I’m honored to be a part of this tradition," said Fred Harris, "and very humbled to be listed alongside so many iconic Massachusetts music educators/conductors, particularly Frank Battisti of New England Conservatory, one of my most important mentors."
Another of Harris's colleagues, Marcus Thompson, the Robert R. Taylor Professor of Music, said, “That Fred has been selected for an honor equal to that of his eminent mentor by his peers tells us that his work for and through MIT is highly regarded by those who know it best."
Publications, recordings, and concerts
Harris has written two books, Conducting with Feeling, which presents ideas by leading conductors about communicating feelings for a work of music with an ensemble; and Seeking the Infinite, a biography of conductor and composer Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, forthcoming this summer.
Reflecting on Harris's great range and depth, Thompson observed that many aspects of his work could have attracted the attention of the Association, among them: "the well-over 60 commissions of new works for wind ensemble, his stellar new recording with the MIT Wind Ensemble, the workshops and concerts at MIT to which he invites local players ... or perhaps the way he is present in mind and spirit at all times in every activity."
In addition to the formal presentation, Harris was also honored at MIT during the MIT Wind Ensemble’s March 13 concert. Of that occasion, Harris said, “It was special to have [the award] presented also on the MIT campus, the home of my musical family."
Excerpt from Seeking the Infinite (pdf)
Listen Conducting with Feeling Seeking the Infinite
Writer, Kathryn O'Neill
Editor, Design, Emily Hiestand
Photography, top: photo of Fred Harris by Mark Olson; middle: MIT Wind Ensemble concert images from the MITWE website