Over lunch on the day of their first Beethoven String Quartet Cycle concert, I asked the members of the Jupiter String Quartet what makes their string ensemble unique. They answered that unlike many other musical ensembles, all the instruments in the string quartet are from the same family, meaning each voice blends uniquely with the others. The Jupiter String Quartet’s third Beethoven Cycle concert last Friday was dramatic validation of their answer.
The stage of Symphony Hall — usually packed with over a hundred Boston Symphony Orchestra performers — seemed empty on Sunday evening, as it had nothing but one grand piano. But that all changed when Evgeny Kissin released the first chord of Franz Schubert’s Sonata No. 17. The sheer power of that first note, which filled the entire Hall, marked the beginning of a night of phenomenal piano music.
Language is a bridge between cultures as much as it is a tool for communication. The complex role of language has led to controversy over whether it is better to provide education in a minority language (a language spoken by the minority of a population) or simply educating students in the dominant language of a given region. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem: 20 percent of the population of the United States speak a language at home other than English, 56 percent of Europeans are bilingual, and it is believed that over half of the entire world’s population is bilingual.
Life is full of lessons, and not just those learned in lecture. There are some lessons that you acquire not within a classroom, but through experiences outside the realm of academics. With all the new encounters and hardships and rewards that college brings, these four years are an ideal time to start tackling the big questions — why are we here studying? What is really important in life? What is the meaning of Stonehenge? Little Life Lessons will muse on philosophical questions that college students may face at this turning point in our lives. Perhaps you’ve already contemplated these issues before; perhaps such matters have never crossed your mind. My hope is that this column serves as a springboard for the next step along your path of thoughts.
Almost every MIT student has conducted a scientific experiment on an animal — ranging from dissecting a frog in middle school to studying the behavior of conditionally trained mice in a UROP. At some point, many of us have probably found ourselves questioning the ethics of using animals for research. Though I was vaguely aware of this debate, it wasn’t until I took my first Institute lab that I finally understood the purpose of using animals in scientific pursuit.