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Illustration of an older man sitting at a piano.

Cover image from Linda Hutcheon and Michael Hutcheon's book, "Four Last Songs: Aging and Creativity in Verdi, Strauss, Messiaen, and Britten."

Samuel Weiner Distinguished Visitors, Dr. Linda Hutcheon and Dr. Michael Hutcheon, to deliver lectures on Collaborative Research and Aging and Creativity

Two public lectures happening on Feb. 7 and 8

February 7, 2024 — 

This year, the Desautels Faculty of Music is honoured to host Linda and Michael Hutcheon as the Samuel Weiner Distinguished Visitors. The purpose of this fund is to bring renowned scientists or scholars to the University of Manitoba to stimulate and encourage research at the university.  

The main events associated with the Hutcheons’ visit are two lectures. The first, titled “Straddling Research Boundaries: Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration,” will be held on Wednesday, February 7.

The second, “Aging and Creativity: Later Life / Last Works” will be held on Thursday, February 8. This lecture is funded, in part, by the Desautels Faculty of Music Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Fund.

Interdisciplinary research on creativity and aging

For decades, Dr. Linda Hutcheon, University Professor Emeritus in the Department of English and the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Michael Hutcheon, Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, have worked collaboratively to create ground-breaking interdisciplinary research projects, most notably in the area of opera.  

Separately, Linda and Michael Hutcheon have published prolifically, on critical theory and contemporary postmodern culture and pulmonary physiology and lung transplantation, respectively. Their collaborative work has resulted in numerous articles and books, including Opera: Desire, Disease, Death (1996); Bodily Charm: Living Opera (2000); and Opera, the Art of Dying (2004). 

According to Dr. Colette Simonot-Maiello, “Opera is an inherently interdisciplinary art form and, with a broad knowledge base between them, the Hutcheons have created rich cultural contexts for these works, resulting in new insights and interpretations for this art form.” 

The Hutcheons’ latest book, Four Last Songs: Aging and Creativity in Verdi, Strauss, Messiaen and Britten (2015) examines the late lives and last works of four operatic composers, explicating their responses to the challenges and opportunities of aging. Creativity and aging, broadly speaking, is the subject of much of the Hutcheons’ current research.

This book provided some inspiration for UM musicologist Andrew Deruchie’s recent research. The Hutcheons work offered a model for how I could disentangle composer Camille Saint-Saëns’s late-life music from culturally ingrained stigmas about old age,” says Deruchie.

“I could then re-frame it as a response to Saint-Saëns’s own ideas about age, wisdom, and the responsibilities of the creative artist.” Deruchie’s article, “Saint-Saëns’s Second String Quartet and the Art of Composing Oldly,” will be published by Brepols later this year in a volume on chamber music in Europe.

Public lectures

The two public lectures will take place on February 7 and 8, 2024, with an additional discussion exclusive to DFOM students and faculty.

“Straddling Research Boundaries: Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration”
February 7, 2024, 4:15 p.m., Schultz Lecture Theatre, St. John’s College   

Public lecture

When a literary theorist and a physician collaborate to research and write about opera, many disciplinary boundaries have to be negotiated. Considering both personal experience and the critical literature, the Hutcheons will investigate the process of interdisciplinary collaboration and explore its advantages as well as its challenges. Addressing the differences between the sciences and the humanities/social sciences in terms of disciplinary culture, the nature of evidence in research, as well as institutional demands and limitations, they will attempt to unpack the forces driving the current movement in academia towards working in interdisciplinary teams.

This lecture will be in-person and recorded.

Please register to RSVP and to receive the recording.

“Conversation about Collaborative Research with DFOM Faculty and Students”
February 8, 2024, 11:30am to 12:30pm, T2-166.

DFOM faculty and students are welcome to join in a conversation about collaboration and the variety of research activity that goes on in our faculty, from humanities and social science models to research-creation and creative works. What are the challenges and opportunities we face in working collaboratively?

“Aging and Creativity: Later Life / Last Works” 
February 8, 2024, 4:15 p.m., ARTlab 136 
Public lecture
DFOM students please note that attendance at this lecture can be counted towards your Concert Attendance requirement.

Some of the world’s greatest opera composers—including Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Strauss, and Olivier Messiaen—composed works late in life that reveal their unique responses to the aging process. Disputing the current trend of generalized descriptions of aging artists’ “late style”, this talk will offer illustrated examples of later life works that display “late styles” that are as individual as the lives and personalities of the artists themselves. It is also true that age—far from sapping their creative powers—provided the impetus for some of their best accomplishments.

This lecture will be in-person and live-streamed.

Please register to RSVP and receive the livestream link.


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