All School Project

The Curtis Institute of Music’s all-school projects are interdepartmental, educational, and cultural extravaganzas, characterized by a simultaneous, intensive examination of a specific composition, genre, or era across the academic curriculum, performance studies, and extracurriculum.

The projects provide a unique opportunity for all Curtis students to:

  • deepen and broaden their artistry by studying and performing together a defined repertoire;
  • practice critical listening and analysis of that repertoire, along with research, writing, and discussion in musical studies courses; and
  • explore the surrounding social history, literature, philosophy, psychology, visual art, politics, and general cultural ethos in liberal arts courses.

Extracurricular programs such as outside concerts, lectures, museum visits, and social activities expand the students’ learning experience beyond the walls of Curtis.

All-School Project 2017–18: The Edge Effect

Musicians have always responded to the world around them. From the dialogue between external influences and their own creative vision, they make new work that is entirely original. New environments, cultures, technologies, and other art forms have stimulated composers for centuries. Examples abound: Turkish Janissary bands impressed Mozart, the indigenous song of the Americas moved Dvořak, and recording technology influenced Steve Reich. Today, in a hyper-connected global community, cultures and traditions continually collide to provoke new forms of constructive expression.

The celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma drew a metaphor from ecology to illustrate this concept in a 2013 speech: “Where two ecosystems meet, such as the forest and the savannah, the point of intersection is the site of ‘edge effect.’ In that transition zone, because of the influence the two ecological communities have on each other, you find the greatest diversity of life, as well as the greatest number of new life forms. … The ‘edge effect’ is where those of varied backgrounds come together in a zone of transition; a region of less structure, more diversity and more possibility.”

Throughout the 2017–18 school year, Curtis explores the “edge effect” in music. On stage and in the classroom, students will focus on the results of external influences on musicians as they have manifested over centuries in the creation and performance of concert music.

Watch and Listen

In December, the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble performed works by Chen Yi, the Chinese-American composer known for blending genres in her work. Each Curtis 20/21 performance this season explores a different facet of the "edge effect," from composers' historical influences to their reaction to the events of their time.


Past All-School Projects

The projects, uniquely envisioned by Curtis President Roberto Díaz, began in 2007–08 with the Opus 95 Project, which focused on Beethoven’s string quartet masterwork. That first project received praise from the New York Times for its innovation and inspired a yearly tradition at Curtis.  

  • 2008-09 and 2009-10 Second Viennese School
  • 2010–11 The Paris Project: Between the Wars
  • 2011–12 Appassionato
  • 2012–13 Love and War
  • 2013-14 Russia: A Land and its Influence
  • 2015-16 and 2016-17 Darmstadt