PROFILES IN ASTRONOMY AND RELATED SCIENCES
Your responses to the following 8 questions will help readers search by name, geographic region, time period, and other considerations.
1. What is your full name (first, middle, last),
and your nickname?
Bruce is always good.
2. When were you born? (day, month, year)
April 3, 1956
3. Where were you born? (city/town, state/province, nation)
Brooklyn, New York. But I grew up in New City, NY, where we moved in 1960.
4. What is your current nationality?
5. What secondary, undergraduate, and graduate schools did you attend? Please list each school by name, state/province, country, and degree(s).
Clarkstown High School North, New City, NY, 1970-74
The Juilliard School, NYC, 1972-79 (Precollege, BM and MM in Music Composition and Literature and Materials of Music [Music Theory])
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NY, approximately 1988 to 2000) (Ph.D in Music Theory and Composition)
6. What is your current institutional affiliation?
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music at Metropolitan College of New York,
Urban Studies Marymount Manhattan College, Theater – occasionally commissioned as music director and composer for MainStage productions
7. What are your primary interests relating to Astronomy (research, education, public communication, amateur engagement, other)? Please rank from 1 (greatest focus) to 4 (least focus). Ties are OK. Further details are OK too.
1. composing music on themes of astronomical science and imagery
2. meeting professional & amateur astronomers and performing my music for them
3. moderating my Facebook group, Astronomy and the Arts
4. unaided eye “backyard” (but more often NYC street!) star-and-planet gazing
8. Some other identifiers which you may (or may not) choose to communicate publicly might include your gender, sexual orientation, marital status, race, ethnicity and religious faith.
The remaining questions are intended to help you build an informative and engaging personal profile in Astronomy and related sciences.
9. What was your childhood like? (please feel free to elaborate)
10. When did you first develop an interest in Astronomy and related sciences?
At 5 or 6 years old I was already an avid fan of the early NASA space program, and knew the astronauts’ names and even some details of their various Mercury missions. Subsequent trips to the Hayden Planetarium and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair (with its emphasis on technological progress and space exploration) sparked my interest even further. When I was about 10 my dad bought me my first serviceable telescope – a 2.5 inch refractor – and I was hooked for life.
Even as a toddler I knew and absorbed the music which was a constant presence at home: classical, jazz, Frank Sinatra, Walt Disney’s Fantasia. My dad was a jazz musician as a youth, and though he went on to a career as a research and development engineer for AT&T he played piano, bass or trumpet every night, retained a small group of private students (which included myself), and directed amateur choruses at work and the synagogue. Though my parents were ambivalent about my becoming a professional, full-time musician, and even worse a starry-eyed classical composer, I am ever fortunate they went out of their way to secure the best training for me. Surely my innate talent would have come to naught had it not been nurtured and shaped by Donald Waxman, renowned piano teacher and composer, and Andrew Thomas and Vincent Persichetti at Juilliard.
11. What persons helped to support your interests and develop your skills relating to Astronomy? Here is your chance to publicly thank those who supported you during…
Arthur Lazarus. My dad, and my first and best teacher in music and science between ages 4 and 12.
Dr. Robert Defronzo – excellent elementary school music teacher and gifted musician
Jerry Conques – 4th grade teacher with genuine interest in science and music
Dr. Robert Lebofsky – gifted 9th grade science teacher
Donald Waxman – principle private teacher in piano and composition
At Juilliard: Andrew Thomas (composition), Vincent Persichetti (composition).
12. What was your first real “job” relating to Astronomy?
My only job in astronomy was the privilege of teaching one semester of “Introduction to Astronomy” for continuing adult education at Miami-Dade Community College.
13. What activities, experiences, or achievements relating to Astronomy have been most rewarding to you?
A few highlights since 2001 from my work as an astronomic composer and pianist:
Performances of my Carl Sagan-inspired youth chorus work, StarSongs, by Juilliard Precollege Chorale, 2002; performance of my Galileo-inspired brass quintet, Starry Messenger, at Juilliard (my alma mater), 2003: performance of my Guide to the Winter Sky by Cantabile Chamber Chorale (Rebecca Scott, Director), around 2006; complete performances of my solo piano work, Musical Explorations of the Messier Catalogue of Star Clusters and Nebulae at Cambridge Science Festival, Gloucester Area Astronomy Club, and South Florida Science Festival Carl Sagan Day (2012-14), performances of the Messier pieces as “The Messier Project” with choreography by Mary Seidman and Dancers (especially our performance at La Mama Theater, NYC, with projections by Carter Emmart (chief astrovisualist for Hayden Planetarium, Rose Space Center), around 2011; the 2013 release of the Messier CD/download on Composers Concordance/Naxos Recordings, released in 2013 (produced by Eric Somers).
14. What are your current interests and activities relating to Astronomy?
I’ve been pondering for a long time a major Copernicus-inspired concerto for piano and orchestra (alternatively, piano and pre-recorded electronics) entitled On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres.
15. Are there any regrets that you would care to share?
Choreographer Mary Seidman and I never got to present “The Messier Project” at the Hayden Planetarium, though between 2010 and 2013 we worked very hard to get in there. We were edged out at the last moment by the also worthy Gotham Opera Company, and, sad to say, let the choreographic Messier Project fizzle out shortly thereafter, never rebounding from our loss. Similarly, 11 years earlier, choral director Rebecca Scott and I came very close to presenting StarSongs at the Hayden Planetarium, but our efforts came to naught.