Coordinating The Arts Gets A Slow Start

The arts at Harvard became "coordinated" this year, with the appointment of Myra Mayman as Arts Coordinator. But it was difficult to tell. Her Office of the Arts came out with an informational newsletter a few times near the end of the year, but little else seemed new.

In early May, some officials of the Visual and Environmental Studies Department expressed relief that Mayman's office hadn't meddled with their "independence." Within the week, their concern shifted to another area, when the VES executive committee--half of whose members have no formal connection with VES--made a decision not to rehire three popular teachers, two of whom had played a leading role in the Department from the time of its inception.

Because of a lack of funds and exhibition space, few students in the visual arts had an opportunity to show their work. Phillip Gabrielli '74 worked for a full year to set up his exhibit, "Ten Harvard Artists," at Gund Hall.

It was a better year for Harvard filmmakers. Frank Mouris '74, a former VES lecturer, won the Oscar for best animated short subject with his autobiographical "Frank Film," made at Carpenter Center. W. Donald Brown '74 showed his full-length "Counterpoint" to packed houses at the Science Center in March, and brought out "Robin Hood" in May. Brown's promotion and financing methods suggested an entrepreneurial skill rather rare among Harvard filmmakers--most of whom content themselves with making short films which few people see--but his movies didn't live up to the expectations he aroused.

The Loeb Drama Center staged passable productions all year, but the whole center--and Harvard drama in general--concentrated on standard, light-weight plays done many times before. The Spring saw a half-dozen old musicals, with outstanding performances of two: the Gilbert and Sullivan Players' Ruddigore, and Dunster House's Wizard of Oz. But serious drama had no spectacular successes. One student-written play was among the best stage productions of the year: The Teeth of Mons Herbert, by Philip Lazebnik '75.


Despite the advent of "coordination," the arts at Harvard remained very compartmentalized, with little academic credit given for students' artistic work. And music, where performance traditionally is nearly all extra-curricular, was the only area of the arts where performances were consistently good. At the top of the long list of stars were Yo-Yo Ma '76, a phenomenal cellist, and Gerry Moshell, most notably as conductor of the Lowell House opera's "Ariadne Auf Nauxos," in his last year as a Harvard music tutor.