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The digital age of art

Conference will explore digitization of art, music, theater

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Music Professor Tom McKenney, right, works with music composition graduate student David Witter in McKenney’s office. They are discussing MetaSynth composition and sound design software. Photo by Rob Hill

Art, music and theater schools typically emphasize classical techniques, but new student generations — who grew up with synthesized sound, computer-generated art, virtual museums and iTunes — are expecting more.

“One of the things we’re seeing in the School of Music are students who have learned what they know about music in nontraditional ways,” says Robert Shay, director of the School of Music. “Are we ready for students like this? Is there a way for us to embrace them while incorporating the other stuff they need to know?”

To explore these questions and increase public awareness of the digitization of the arts, Shay and Andrea Heiss, assistant professor of magazine journalism, will host a symposium and festival in fall 2012. The public event, which will include speakers and performances, is a collaboration among faculty from art, art history, music, theater, architectural studies and journalism. Shay hopes the conference will spur discussions on how new media and technology are affecting art and how MU can prepare students for art careers.

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