The Music Ticker: A New Hartt Dean, HSO Summer Series, And More

Jun 30, 2016

Cooper will be the first woman to head the school in its 96-year history.

After a six-month national search, The Hartt School has a new dean.

She is Elizabeth “Betsy” Cooper, currently chair of the Hunter College, CUNY Dance Department in New York.

She will be the first woman to lead the school in its 96-year history. Hartt was founded in 1920 by Moshe Paranov (and friends) and remained an independent institution until 1957, when it became a charter member of the University of Hartford.

Cooper, a New York City native, enjoyed a long association with the University of Washington. She served as Dean of the Division of the Arts for three years, overseeing the School of Art, School of Music, School of Drama, the Dance Program, the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media, the Musical Theatre Program, Meany Hall for the Performing Arts and the UW World series, and the Henry Art Gallery. The UW Division of the Arts serves over 1,000 undergraduate majors and graduate students in a variety of masters and doctoral programs.

Elizabeth Cooper, the new dean of The Hartt School, and the first woman to head the school
Credit University of Hartford

Cooper holds a MFA in Dance from the University of Washington and graduated cum laude from Yale with a B.A. in Archaeological Studies. In addition to her ongoing work as a master teacher and guest artist, she maintains a scholarly profile in areas of the intersection between dance, politics, the censorship of the body in mid-20th century concert dance and the Hollywood film industry. Her recent work, “The Body Censored: Dance, Morality and the Production Code during the Golden Age of the Film Musical,” appears in Dance on Its Own Terms: Histories and Methodologies, published by Oxford University Press.

Cooper has performed with classical and contemporary companies in this country and abroad, including National Theater Mannheim, Matthew Nash Music and Dance, Makarova and Company and Connecticut Ballet.  Her choreography has been commissioned by Seattle Dance Project, Connecticut Ballet, and Arc Dance Company, among others.

Cooper officially takes The Hartt School reins on August 15.

HSO’s Hot Fun in the Summertime

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s Talcott Mountain Music Festival, its annual five-concert summer concert series, begins Friday, July 1 in Simsbury.

The opening concert, Celebrate America!, will among other things give audiences a chance to see the HSO’s new assistant conductor, Adam Kerry Boyles, in what is being billed as his first public concert since being named a few months ago.

For those of you who might not have been paying close attention, Boyles is a Boston-based figure who emerged as the winner of a competition for the HSO assistant conductor gig last winter. He is currently also director of orchestras at MIT, and music director of the Brookline Symphony.

The 7:30 pm concert will be followed by fireworks. Sad to say, this might well be the premier fireworks display for our region this year, given the dispiriting news that Hartford’s longtime Riverfest celebration has been called off due to budget woes.

The remainder of the Talcott Festival concerts are scheduled for the next four consecutive Friday nights: July 8, 15, 22, and 29. Rain dates for all concerts are the corresponding Saturday.

The principal sponsor of the Talcott Mountain Music Festival is the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

For complete ticket and program info, go to hartfordsymphony.org.

Charting New, Albeit Depressing, Territory

For the first time since the numbers were kept, not a single classical recording had sold as many as a hundred copies.

There’s been a lot of chatter about a recent post in Norman Lebrecht’s “Slipped Disc,” his daily online compendium of classical music news and gossip. In a post on June 27, Lebrecht reported that the Nielsen SoundScan numbers for the previous week disclosed a sad milestone for classical music recordings in the United States.

Apparently, for the first time since the numbers were kept, not a single classical recording – measuring both physical CDs and digital downloads – had sold as many as a hundred copies.

I know a lot of people in the business have challenged the SoundScan methodology, and there is particular skepticism about whether music streaming is being accurately counted.

Still, it’s kind of mind-blowing to think that a new classical title can wind up in the U.S. top ten while selling, on average, fewer than two copies per state.


The much-admired baritone Robert Barefield, a faculty member at Hartt, is being widely hailed for his new CD of American art songs, “Songs to Fill the Void," released by Albany Records. The disc is a memorial to Stephen Mazujian, Barefield’s longtime partner, who died suddenly in 2014 while the two of them were vacationing in Cambodia. One especially touching feature of the recording is a set of short songs set to texts by Barefield himself. The album is available to purchase through iTunes and Amazon, and available to stream on Spotify.

Congratulations to Nicholas Platoff, who has just been named Associate Principal Trombone of the San Francisco Symphony at the unconscionable age of 24.

Nick grew up in Woodbridge and attended Amity High School.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music, and since 2014 has been a Fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach.

Nick is the son of John Platoff, Professor of Music at Trinity College, and Ruth Montgomery, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Reach Steve Metcalf at spmetcalf55@gmail.com.