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Sounding Boundaries

Students in the Lewis Center for the Arts’ and Department of Music’s spring 2013 Princeton Atelier course, “Sounding Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Alchemy in Music Theater,” will present original music theater works works on Friday May 3 at 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 4 at 2:00 p.m. at the Black Box Theater at Forbes College on the Princeton campus.  The 10 students will perform these new works completed over the past semester under the guidance of composer, guitarist and Princeton Professor of Music Steve Mackey and director and filmmaker Mark DeChiazza.  A reception will follow the May 3 performance.  The performances and reception are free and open to the public.

The goal of the course was to foster an open-ended investigation into new ways of effectively synthesizing composition and performance of music with diverse arts disciplines to create new modes of dramatic expression. Students, who applied to participate in the course, were drawn from among vocalists, instrumentalists and composers, along with filmmakers, choreographers, directors, dancers, visual artists and writers, with encouragement of students with engineering or computer science backgrounds to apply their skills to an art-making process. 

Working in small teams, students experimented throughout the course with a number of works being selected for further development and presentation at the upcoming performances. 

“It has been an incredibly rewarding experience as a musician and a teacher to watch what our students have created over the past few months,” notes Mackey. “They have demonstrated incredible innovation and dedication and insightful skill in critiquing one another’s work.”

Mackey is a Grammy Award-winning composer and Chair of Princeton’s Department of Music. He has composed for orchestra, chamber ensembles, dance and opera. He has received several awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, among others. He has been the composer-in-residence at major music festivals including Tanglewood, Aspen and the Holland Festival.

DeChiazza has directed for theater and opera and works across multiple disciplines as a filmmaker and video designer. His work explores expressive and kinetic possibilities in the presentation of new music. His 2009 dance-theater staging of Pierrot Lunaire with eighth blackbird continues to tour and was performed last year at the Kennedy Center. Last February DeChiazza directed three new short operas for the Princeton One-Act Opera Project.

Mackey and DeChiazza previously collaborated on creating the staging and films for It Is Time, a Carnegie Hall commission for SO Percussion, on Prelude To The End, a work of live music and film, and DeChiazza directed Mackey’s music theater work, Slide.

Visiting guest artists who also worked with students included dancer/choreographer Kristin Clotfelter, percussionist Jason Treunting, and video projection designer Josh Higgasson.

The Princeton Atelier offers four to five unique, interdisciplinary courses each year, usually inviting guest artists as faculty who collaborate with one another and students to create new work. Over the past decade, guest artists have included choreographer Jacques d’Amboise, vocal group Anonymous 4, percussionist Evelyn Glennie, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, novelist Gabriel García Márquez, visual artist Irina Nakhova, the Pig Iron Theatre Company, Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock and theater director Peter Sellars.

Each course culminates in the public presentation of new work, and both the seminars and these final presentations have become vibrant mainstays of the University’s creative and performing arts public offerings.  Courses are open to all students by application and are offered in both the fall and spring semesters.

To learn more about this event, the Princeton Atelier, and the more than 100 public events offered annually by the Lewis Center for the Arts visit

Link to photo
Photo caption: One of the performance works created by students in the spring 2013 Princeton Atelier course, “Sounding Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Alchemy in Music Theater.”
Photo credit: Photo by Mark DeChiazza


Event Information


Friday, May 3 at 5:00 PM

Saturday, May 4 at 2:00 PM

Black Box Theater at Forbes College

A reception will follow the May 3 performance

Free and open to the public



The Princeton Atelier was endowed in 2009 through the generosity of a donor who has chosen to remain anonymous. The Atelier is additionally supported through The Newhouse Foundation, The Erik C. Blachford '89 Fund, The Schare-Pfaffenroth Endowment Fund, The Jordan Roth '97 Performance Fund and The Peter T. Joseph Foundation.


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