Medieval Music Expert Accepts Tenure Offer

Oberlin Conservatory professor Thomas Forrest Kelly recently accepted a tenure offer in Harvard's Department of Music, department chair Reinhold Brinkmann confirmed yesterday.

Kelly, a performer and scholar of early music, is the winner of the American Musicological Society's Book of the Year Award for his 1989 publication, The Beneventan Chant.

According to Brinkmann, Kelly will continue the medieval music studies program now headed by Mason Professor of Music David G. Hughes, who is retiring this spring.

"Professor Kelly is both an expert in his field and a great performer," Brinkmann said. "We're very excited that he's coming because he has so many things to offer the department."

Brinkmann said he expects, Kelly to lead a group of early music performers at Harvard, similar to those whom he now trains and directs at Oberlin.


Kelly currently heads the historical performance/early music program at Oberlin. According to former conservatory dean David Boe he has spent much of his there organizing performances, ranging from baroque orchestra to early opera and ensembles.

At Harvard, Kelly will likely teach students with an especially broad array of interests if his proposal to teach a Literature and Arts B core course is accepted.

Kelly had proposed a course entitled "First Nights," which would focus on the premiere performances of five "musical masterworks."

"I want to get students who are both familiar with these pieces and those who aren't to think of them as though they were not only contemporary, but brand new," Kelly said.

According to Brinkmann, the subjects of study would be works by Monteverdi, Handel, Beethoven, Berlioz, and Stravinsky. "I think that Tom isgoing to discuss the circumstances and historiesof some central pieces," he said." He's going totry to mix aesthetic, historical and socialapproaches to music."

Kelly said in an interview yesterday that heexpects to relinquish the performance trainingduties for which he was responsible at Oberlin.

"What I've been invited to do at Harvard is toreally focus on my scholarship, which I have beendoing all along," Kelly said. "It's just that hereI've been doing it nights and weekends."

Kelly, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard in1973, said that it was a difficult decision toleave Oberlin: "While returning to Harvard isalmost like a homecoming, I really believe thatOberlin embodies the same kind of excellence thatHarvard does, but in a different way."

"One slight different is that theundergraduates I worked with were completelycommitted to what they were doing musically," headded, "and it was hard to give that up."

Boe said conservatory, faculty members are"tremendously disappointed" Kelly is leaving "Heis a highly respected faculty members here, butI'm sure that he'll do well wherever he is."