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On Becoming Informed Citizens: A Reader Responds

The articles by President Joseph W. Polisi (“On Becoming Informed Citizens, Juilliard Journal, December 2010/January 2011) and Mitchell Aboulafia, the director of the Liberal Arts Department (“Belligence and Politics,” Juilliard Journal, December 2010/January 2011), depict the need for students to be involved in society not only as a musicians but also as responsible, well-informed citizens. As a faculty member, teacher, and performing pianist, I meet young musicians all the time. It baffles me sometimes to find that these citizens do not even understand or have the historical knowledge of the repertoire they are playing. They have not read the many available composers’ biographies, and they do not have any idea where the composers fit in a social, historic, and musical context. So how do you expect these young musicians to understand the intricacies of the political, economic, and social system, and how it affects the arts in general? In an era where information is open to everybody, there is no excuse not to know what goes on in the real world. Wikipedia is not enough (and it’s not so reliable), but your library, your online sources, your encyclopedia, and your teachers are your greatest resources for knowledge. So what is the problem? Read! Read everything and come to your own conclusion. And above all: listen and think, and talk with knowledge and intelligence. If you do not know something, ask an expert. 

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Mirian Conti (B.M. ’84, M.M. ’85, piano)
Evening Division Faculty


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