The Genesis of a New Symphony

Presentation by John Harbison, Institute Professor of Music, Maestro David Zinman, mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy, and moderator Benjamin Schwartz of the BSO          


Sponsored by MIT and the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Free and open to the public | Reception to follow 

January 11, 2012 
6 - 7 pm | Kresge Auditorium, MIT  
48 Massachusetts Avenue (rear), Cambridge
Complimentary parking at the West Garage

Presentation anticipates the BSO's world premiere of Harbison's Symphony No. 6
In anticipation of the world premiere performances of John Harbison’s Symphony No. 6 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on January 12, 13, 14 and 17, 2012, the BSO and MIT will jointly present a roundtable discussion on the genesis of the new composition. The discussion will focus on several different aspects of the new work: its commissioning, composition, and rehearsal.

Joining composer and MIT Institute Professor John Harbison in the discussion will be Maestro David Zinman, who will conduct the BSO for these performances, and mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy, who will sing Mr. Harbison’s setting of James Wright’s poem Entering the Temple in Nimes, featured in the first movement of the new symphony.  

The discussion will be moderated by BSO Assistant Artistic Administrator Benjamin Schwartz, and will include a live performance of a vocal excerpt of the symphony with Ms. Murrihy. A reception in the lobby will follow at the close of the roundtable discussion.


More information 
MIT Concerts Office, Clarise Snyder | 617-253-2906
MIT Music section | BSO performances


L: MIT Institute Professor John Harbison M: Boston Symphony Hall; R: mezzo-soprano, Paula Murrihy


John Harbison, MIT Institute Professor of Music

Composer John Harbison (b.1938) is among America's most distinguished artistic figures. The recipient of numerous awards and honors (including the MacArthur Foundation's "genius" award and the Pulitzer Prize), Harbison has composed music for most of America's premiere musical institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera (The Great Gatsby, 1999), the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His works include four string quartets, five symphonies, a ballet, three operas, a cantata, and numerous chamber and choral works, more than sixty of which have been recorded on leading labels such as Harmonia Mundi, New World, Deutsche Grammophon, Albany, Centaur, Decca, and Koch.  Mr. Harbison has been composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Academy in Rome, and numerous festivals, including Tanglewood, Marlboro, and Aspen. He received degrees from Harvard and Princeton before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is currently Institute Professor, the highest academic distinction offered resident faculty. Harbison's music is published exclusively by Associated Music Publishers.  For complete works, visit:

Maestro David Zinman, Conductor
David Zinman's tenures, first in Baltimore and now in Zurich, have been distinguished by his programming of an extraordinarily broad repertoire, his strong commitment to the performance of contemporary music, and his introduction of historically informed performance practice. He is in his fourteenth season as Music Director of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, and in 1998 concluded a highly successful thirteen year tenure as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Since 1998 he has also been Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he is also Program Director of the newly formed American Academy of Conducting.

Paula Murrihy, Mezzo-soprano
Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy has appeared at London's Royal Opera House, Teatro Comunale, Bologna, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Oper Frankfurt, Chicago Opera Theater, Wexford Festival Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Boston in a range of roles including the title role in Handel's Ariodante, Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Annio/La Clemenza di Tito, 2nd Lady/Die Zauberflöte, Cherubino/Ghosts of Versailles, Tebaldo/Don Carlo, Helene Une Education Manquee and Ino/Semele. She returned to the Royal Opera in 2010 as Mercedes in Carmen and recently joined Oper Frankfurt as a member of their ensemble where her roles have included Dorabella/Cosi fan Tutte, Medoro/Orlando Furioso, and Scipio in Glanert's Caligula