at the University of Melbourne
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In an exciting and welcomed return to Hamer Hall, the University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will perform two popular Russian masterpieces – both of which were initially considered failures by the critics of the day.
But first, we will open the concert with a string piece by Benjamin Britten. His Simple Symphony – beautifully melodic and charming – is anything but simple! Although it was written in 1934, when Britten was 20 years old, all the melodic material was written between the ages of 9 and 11.
Prokofiev had just been told that ‘cats on a tin roof make better music’ and so (perhaps as a reaction to this) Prokofiev composed his 3rd Piano Concerto in a completely different style – more akin to that of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov than his previous works to date. It is full of deeply emotional, lyrical and romantic writing. Prokofiev, however, just couldn’t seem to win with the critics as the 3rd Piano Concerto was then criticised for being both pianistically far too difficult and not harmonically adventurous enough. The fiercely difficult 3rd Piano Concerto has since become one of Prokofiev’s most successful and popular concert works and, for this performance, we will be joined by pianist Hannah Shin (winner of the Conservatorium’s concerto-aria competition in 2019).
The concert will end with Tchaikovsky’s beloved Symphony No. 5. This too was fiercely criticised in its day – even by the composer (who considered it crude and an utter failure). Both works are now universally considered a masterpiece.
The University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, led by world-renowned conductor Associate Professor Richard Davis, feature the very best student orchestral musicians at the University.
The question of why women and minorities are under-represented in mathematics is complex and there are no simple answers, only many contributing factors.
In this lecture, Dr Eugenia Cheng will draw on a combination of precise mathematical reasoning, techniques of abstract mathematical thinking, and my experiences as a woman in the male-dominated field of mathematics. She will argue that if we focus character traits rather than gender we can have a more productive and less divisive conversation, about math and beyond. She will present a new theory for doing so, showing that we can use abstract mathematical thinking to work towards a more inclusive society in this politically divisive era.
Dr Cheng will present the abstract field of Category Theory as a particularly inclusive subject area according to the dimensions of my new theory, and demonstrate its scope for deepening the curiosity and social awareness of high school students, rather than just pushing and evaluating them. This goes against the assumption that abstract mathematics can only be taught to high level undergraduates and graduate students, and the accusation abstract mathematics is removed from real life.
Dr Cheng is keen to bring mathematics to a wider audience and help reduce maths phobia. On top of her job teaching undergraduates and graduate students, she has volunteered helping with mathematics in primary school ever since she was a graduate student. She also founded the Sheffield Mathematics Academy to bring secondary/high school students to university for mathematics enrichment. Her job at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago involves teaching high level abstract mathematics to art students.