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Thursday, May 30
The Indiana Daily Student


Music fraternity enriches life with song

Mu Phi Epsilon provides forum for discussion, services community.

During its 98-year history, the Mu Phi Epsilon music fraternity has sought to enrich local communities with free concerts and recitals, community service projects and music education and appreciation classes.\nThe national organization was founded in 1893 at the Metropolitan College of Music in Cincinnati, originally as a sorority, and later admitting men and women. The Bloomington chapter has 27 collegiate members and 29 patron, or alumni, members. The local chapter generally holds six to eight concerts or recitals each year, some of which are held on campus and some at local retirement centers.\n"We give concerts at retirement homes where we sing for residents," graduate student Nasrin Hekmat-Farrokh, the fraternity's chapter president, said. "We also hold a concert series with no admission fee." \nFarrokh joined Mu Phi Epsilon as an undergraduate at the University of Southern California. \nThe group's most recent concert, Oct. 14, featured a discussion of Samuel Barber's opera "Vanessa" and a mini-recital by soprano Beth Wininger, a fraternity alumna. Butler University Associate professor Wayne C. Wentzel lectured on the underlying themes in "Vanessa," identifying selections with various motives throughout and playing them for audience members. \nWininger and pianist Charles Prestinari, a doctoral student, performed selections from "Hermit Songs" (1953) and "A Green Lowland of Pianos, Op. 45, No. 2" (1974). Distinguished professor Giorgio Tozzi then spoke on his part in creating the role of the doctor in that opera at the Metropolitan Opera in 1958. \nThe Recital Hall audience of between 40-50 people, some from the group's Terre Haute chapter, asked questions of both Wentzel and Tozzi.\nIn addition to free events for the public, the fraternity provides forums for students to question music professionals and teachers, many from among the fraternity's own alumni, Farrokh said. Members also donate items to the IU music library and provide music appreciation classes and music therapy to special populations.\n"We use music as therapy," Farrokh said. "Many (music) artists at IU are involved."\nMu Phi Epsilon also has an alumni chapter in Bloomington, which works with the collegiate chapter in all of its various events and programs. Members pledged as collegiate members and are offered the opportunity to continue in the honorary chapter.\nMargaret Strong, a 50-plus year member of the fraternity, said "the group is dedicated to supporting the student chapter, service to the community and general musical events."\nAmong the most distinguished alumni are the Sterling Patrons, Strong said, who are chosen by the national organization. \n"The distinction is given for musicianship and service to their community," Strong said. \nAt IU, former Dean of the School of Music Charles Webb and Distinguished professor David Baker and Professor David Effron are all Sterling Patrons. \n"The group encourages music scholarship, fraternity among members and service projects, such as performances at Beverly (Healthcare)," Strong said. "We've been doing that for years."\nFor Strong and other alumni, the performance and appreciation of music is a lifelong commitment. Nasrin Farrokh agrees.\n"What would life be without music?" Farrokh asked. "We believe in music and the nobleness of all the arts."\nThe fraternity hosts its next concert Sunday, Nov. 4, with violinist Jorge Avila, this year's international Mu Phi Epsilon competition winner. Patron member David Baker, a distinguished professor of the music school, will be honored at the group's Nov. 11 Founders Day recital, 7 p.m. in Recital Hall.

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