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Oberlin Conservatory Announces Topics to be Addressed During Rubin Institute

Dec. 21, 2011

Alex Ross Rubin Critic For Web
New Yorker critic Alex Ross, one of five highly esteemed music critics to present keynote addresses during the Rubin Institute January 18 - 22, 2012. Photo by David Michalek

The Rubin Institute Offers Rare Opportunity to Hear Highly Esteemed Nationally Renowned Journalists Share Valuable Insights and Opinions on the Art of Writing and Discussing Music

Oberlin Conservatory reveals topics to be discussed by Alex Ross, Anne Midgette, Heidi Waleson, John Rockwell, Tim Page and Charles Michener

Oberlin Conservatory of Music announced today the titles of the keynote addresses to be given by respected journalists participating in the inaugural Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, taking place January 18 – 22, 2012 on the Oberlin College campus. Alex Ross, Anne Midgette, Heidi Waleson, John Rockwell, and Tim Page, all members of the Institute’s Writers Panel, will give talks covering a wide variety of subjects in music criticism. These talks offer audiences the rare chance to hear from some of today’s most respected writers about the field in which they work.


"The Prospects of Music Writing in a Post-Critical Age" - Alex Ross, New Yorker critic

 “Artist as Critic/Critic as Artist” - Anne Midgette, Washington Post critic and author 

“No One True Faith: Criticism and Historical Performance” - Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal critic

"Nostalgia from a World in which Print was King and Critics were Oracular Pontificators Whom Everyone Else Followed like Sheep" - John Rockwell, author and arts critic

 "Be Your Own Critic" - Tim Page, Professor, Journalism and Music, USC; author

Oberlin Conservatory is pleased to welcome John Rockwell, writer, critic, and former editor of The New York Times Sunday Arts & Leisure section, who was able to reschedule a previous engagement to join the Institute, to the Writers Panel. The Writers Panel comprises Alex Ross, New Yorker music critic and author, Anne Midgette, music critic for the Washington Post, former New York Times critic and author; Heidi Waleson, music critic for The Wall St. Journal and contributing writer to numerous other publications; Tim Page, Professor of Journalism and Music at the University of Southern California, author and former music critic at the Washington Post; Mr. Rockwell, and Stephen Rubin, President and Publisher, Henry Holt & Co., and benefactor of The Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. The Panel will hold private workshops with the hand-selected young writers (Rubin Institute Fellows) participating in the Institute. (Note: Panel members will not review the Institute concerts for their respective publications.)

Charles Michener, author and former senior editor at The New Yorker will also give a keynote address entitled, “He Can't Do That to My Review: The Limits of Music Criticism” tailored for the members of the public who wish to write a review to be considered for the $1,000 Public Review Prize (see end of release).

The Rubin Institute for Music Criticism is the first program of its kind focusing on performance and performance criticism. The biennial Institute comprises a week-long series of public events, including performances, keynote addresses by critics, critical review and discussion panels. The Rubin Institute brings together before the public national music journalists, renowned musicians, and aspiring young writers, combining the wisdom and insight of today’s highly esteemed critics, the artistry and daring of acclaimed musicians, and the energy and promise of tomorrow’s music journalists.

The 2012 Rubin Institute will include four public concerts on Oberlin’s 133 year-old Artist Recital Series by acclaimed musicians from the solo, chamber, and orchestral stages: The Cleveland Orchestra, pianist Jeremy Denk, baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). These performances will be reviewed by a hand-selected group of young writers (Rubin Institute Fellows) whose work will be critiqued in private workshops and public sessions by a panel of highly esteemed national music critics and journalists.

The Rubin Institute also presents an informative talk on performing from the perspective of those who perform and compose. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, pianist Jeremy Denk, and flutist Claire Chase ’01, founder of the International Contemporary Ensemble, will discuss music and the creation, performance, and reception of music in the 21st century, followed by a question and answer session with the public.

Prior to the Institute, the student writers selected as Fellows will have worked with a special preparatory team of local journalists and writers while taking the Oberlin Conservatory’s new fall course, Introduction to Music Criticism. The course’s teaching panel includes Brian Alegant, professor and Director of the Music Theory Division at the Oberlin Conservatory; Mike Telin ’84, Executive Editor,; Dan Hathaway, Founder,, and Donald Rosenberg, journalist and President of the Music Critics Association of North America. Students will also have spent two class sessions with guest speaker Charles Michener, author and former senior editor of The New Yorker.

All keynote addresses are free of charge with a purchase of a ticket to the concert that day. Please visit for details on keynote addresses, concerts, ticket prices, the $10,000 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism (to support further study or internships in the field of music criticism), the $1,000 Public Review Prize (an award for the best review by an audience member of a concert performed during the inaugural Institute) and all other events that are part of The Rubin Institute, including directions and a complete Institute schedule. The Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, and the above mentioned Institute Prizes, are made possible by the generosity of Stephen Rubin, President and Publisher of Henry Holt & Co.

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