DePauw Interdisciplinary Festivals

The DePauw University School of Music is dedicated to engaging not only School of Music students, but also students in the College of Liberal Arts by providing opportunities for participation in annual interdisciplinary festivals. These festivals allow all DePauw students, faculty and staff to interact and discuss a central topic through a wide variety of subjects and events.



In 2016/17, departments throughout DePauw will partner in a yearlong interdisciplinary festival delving into the works and worlds of German-born composer Kurt Weill and German playwright Bertolt Brecht. Faculty, staff, students and community members will explore the influences these artists had on both German and American cultures, including collaborative stagings of Brecht’s play The Good Person of Szechwan and Weill’s opera Street Scene.


Kurt Weill and the Search for the Great American Opera: 
Discussion and Performance of Music, Art and Poetry
November 7, 2016@7:30 p.m.
Music on the Square
Michael Mackenzie, Karin Wimbley, Elissa Harbert, Heather Sloan, Amanda Hopson and School of Music student performers

Join DePauw faculty members and School of Music students at Music on the Square for a cabaret-style presentation of the art, architecture and music of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. Professors Mac Mackenzie (Art History), Elissa Harbert (School of Music), Heather Sloan (School of Music) and Karin Wimbley (English) will be joined by DePauw music students, who will sing songs from or related to Street Scene.

DePauw Theatre: The Good Person of Szechwan
Written by Bertolt Brecht
Directed by Gigi Jennewein
Original Music by Jerald Parks ’17
November 17–19, 2016@7:30 p.m.
November 20, 2106@1 p.m.

Can one be good in a corrupt world? This is the central question in Bertolt Brecht’s timeless parable about Shen Te, the good prostitute, who must ultimately employ bad practices to have even the most basic of life’s necessities. While the title of the play suggests a Chinese setting, it is no stretch to imagine as we do that the story happens in a modern U.S. city, in one of those places, according to Brecht “where man is exploited by man.”   

When Shen Te alone satisfies the need of visiting “gods” to prove success with their governing policies, she is rewarded with money. Not unsurprisingly, Shen Te uses her windfall to better herself and the lives of impoverished friends and neighbors. But her good deeds are exploited and impossible to sustain, and Shen Te is forced to resort to deceit and oppression nearly killing off her much desired and admired goodness. 

As with most of his work, Brecht is critiquing societal politics that make it so difficult to adhere to moral principles. And he hopes as do we –  that his work will inspire play-goers to question why and work towards change.  


January 11–15 and February 6–12, 2017

The Music Unwound series, to be offered during DePauw University’s 2017 winter term and spring semester, is supported in part by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

January 11–15, 2017

During the Interdisciplinary Festival, we will welcome renowned cultural historian Joseph Horowitz back to DePauw for Music Unwound – a look into the creative history of Kurt Weill. The two-week residency will include a Music Unwound Cabaret, outlining the interactions of Weill, Brecht and Marc Blitzstein and their connections to American music. The cabaret will feature vocalists Lisa Vroman and William Sharp, with direction by Anthony Dean and concept by Joseph Horowitz and Kim Kowalke. 

Music Unwound: “The Challenges and Rewards of Staging Street Scene
Dr. Kim H. Kowalke, Professor of Musicology, The Eastman School of Music
and the Richard L. Turner Professor of Humanities, University of Rochester
Wednesday, January 11, 2017@7:30 p.m.
Green Center, Thompson Recital Hall

Music Unwound Film Showing: Street Scene

Original play written by and adapted for screen by Elmer Rice
Directed by King Vidor
Thursday, January 12, 2017@1 p.m.
Green Center, Thompson Recital Hall

A film showing of the King Vidor version of Elmer Rice’s 1929 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Street Scene, the basis and inspiration for Kurt Weill’s “American” opera, will be followed by a discussion with guest musicologist Kim Kowalke and cultural historian Joseph Horowitz. Free and open to the public.


Music Unwound Master Class: “Selections from Kurt Weill’s Street Scene”
Lisa Vroman, William Sharp, Kim Kowalke and Joe Horowitz, 
with DePauw Music Students and pianist Tony Weinstein
Thursday, January 12, 2017@6:30 p.m.
Green Center, Thompson Recital Hall 


Music Unwound: A Weill/Brecht/Blitzstein Cabaret
Saturday, January 14, 2017@7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 15, 2017@3 p.m.
Green Center, Thompson Recital Hall

A highlight of the DePauw Interdisciplinary Festival will be Music Unwound’s Kurt Weill Cabaret, featuring lyric soprano Lisa Vroman, baritone William Sharp and pianist Shane Schag. Directed by Dean Anthony, with concept by Joe Horowitz and Kim Kowalke and visuals by Peter Bogdanoff, Saturday’s cabaret-style performance, outlining the interactions of Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Marc Blitzstein, will be offered in the Green Center’s Thompson Recital Hall and repeated on Sunday. Due to limited seating, tickets, which are free, are needed to this event:

Guest art historian: Keith Holz
“The Nazi’s Attack on Modern Art and Music & ‘Degenerate Art’ Exhibition”
Thursday, February 2, 2017@4:15 p.m.
Richard Peeler Art Center, Peeler Auditorium

Keith Holz, Professor of Art History at Western Illinois University, is an expert on modern art in Germany and Austria, and in particular the work of artists who went into exile to escape Nazi Germany, where modern art, music, and architecture was labelled “degenerate” and banned. He will discuss recent scholarship on the Nazi campaigns against “degenerate art” [Entartete Kunst] and “degenerate music.”

February 6–12, 2017

DePauw Opera: Street Scene
Music by Kurt Weill
Lyrics by Langston Hughes
Stage direction and design by Joachim Schamberger
Music direction by Orcenith Smith

February 9–11, 2107@7:30 p.m.
February 12, 2017@2 p.m.

Based on Elmer Rice’s 1929 Pulitzer Prize-winning play and set to music in 1946, Kurt Weill’s Broadway opera paints a slice-of-life portrait of the occupants of a Manhattan East Side tenement on two tumultuous summer days in ’46, as they experience despair, passion and laughter through song, showcasing the composer’s varied musical styles — jazz, opera, show tunes and even Gershwin-styled ideas.

A reception will be held after the opening night performance. 

Guest artist: Olivia Block

March 7–8, 2017

Kurt Weill and Langston Hughes created art out of the sounds, textures and voices of the city, combining a quintessential Old World art form – opera – with a form that was specific to America – jazz. Contemporary artist and composer Olivia Block uses analog and digital recording technology to capture the overlapping sounds, voices, images and textures of a specific urban environment, and turn them into the very current art form of the audio-visual installation. As with opera and the American musical, Block’s works create a total, enveloping multimedia work of art that works simultaneously through sight and sound, combining music, sound textures and video imagery.

Street Scenes of Greencastle and DePauw:
Original Stories by, for and About Our Community
Collectively created by community members
Directed by Tim Good
March 16–18, 2017@7:30 p.m.
March 19, 2017@1 p.m.

Street Scenes of Putnam County and DePauw will be created during February and March of 2017, with meetings and rehearsals at the Putnam County Museum and on the campus of DePauw University.

Faculty member Tim Good brings his group storytelling techniques to provide an offering that will be by, for and about the Putnam County community, including DePauw. DePauw graduates with similar group storytelling expertise will return to lend their talent and skill.

Look for more announcements after the new year, and plan to get involved in the creation of this unique performance. People of all experience levels are highly encouraged; no previous performance experience necessary. Many levels of involvement are possible, from a few nights per week to full engagement.

If interested, contact Tim Good ( or 765-658-4486).

Past Festivals

Little Women: Art and Transformation

DePauw Opera staging of Little Women

During the 2015/16 academic year, several departments within DePauw University, as well as the Greencastle community, delved into the power of literature, life during the Civil War and the transformation of art. Since Louisa May Alcott’s book Little Women was first published in 1868, almost every generation has found a way to make this story its own, transforming it over more than a century and a half from book to movie screen, from plays to musical theatre and even to the opera stage. With each interpretation, audiences gained deeper insight into the relationships of the March family.

This interdisciplinary series was presented in collaboration with the DePauw University School of Music; Department of Communication and Theatre; Department of History; Department of English; Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at DePauw; DePauw Film Studies; the Putnam County Museum; and the Putnam County Public Library.

Dvorák Festival

Baritone Kevin Deas performs with the DePauw University Orchestra

In fall 2014, DePauw University presented “Dvorák and America,” exploring Antonín Dvorák’s preservation of American history. Dvorák, who believed that a “great and noble school” of music would be founded upon “Negro melodies,” also spearheaded the “Indianist” movement in American music. The two-week festival included numerous public events and incorporated a residency by Joseph Horowitz. A Dvorák scholar, author and concert producer, Horowitz, has helped to curate more than a dozen “Dvorák and America” festivals throughout the United States. The interdisciplinary events encouraged audiences via music, artworks and literature to freshly ponder American identity.

The Crucible Project

DePauw Theatre’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

The 2012 “Crucible Project” engaged DePauw students campuswide in a yearlong discussion of “What are you willing to put your name on?” through a collaborative effort between the DePauw University School of Music and College of Liberal Arts. The festival spanned various academic areas such as literature, history and theatre, presenting workshops and courses in McCarthyism, American history and ethics, in conjunction with performances of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and a symphony about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Students participated in a number of discussions, including a talkback session between audience, the DePauw cast of The Crucible, students from Greencastle High School and Broadway performer David Cryer, who played the role of Judge Danforth in the DePauw production.