Research professor to perform musical parody at annual conference

March 16, 2011 | Features, UToday
By Kate Wente

A University of Toledo math professor has been invited to present a musical parody at the 45th Annual Spring Topology and Dynamics Conference this week hosted by the University of Texas at Tyler.



Dr. Sam Nadler, UT research professor of mathematics, will perform the musical parody that celebrates the 201st birthday of the composer Frédéric Chopin. He will use the piano performance to illustrate not only Chopin’s life, but also comment on academia.

The essence of the parody is about aspects of Chopin’s life and personality and how they would mesh with current academic practices. In the parody, Nadler said Chopin is up for promotion and tenure at a fictitious university, but the leadership doesn’t like him personally. The process becomes more focused on the quantity of his preludes rather than the quality.

“This is entirely an appropriate audience because they will be attuned to the humor and understand the nuances in the script,” Nadler said. “I really look forward to doing this.”

The performance, “Concert: Musical Parody (or Why Chopin Left Poland),” will take place the first evening of the conference, which will take place Thursday through Saturday, March 17-19.

“It is a very unique invitation, and a great honor for Dr. Nadler to have been invited to present his musical parody at such a prestigious conference,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy. “For the past 40 years, this conference has been supported by the National Science Foundation, and it includes plenary talks by some of the leading mathematicians in the world in this field.”

Nadler, who has been teaching at UT for about three years, received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Georgia in Athens. He has published more than 100 research papers in analysis and topology and has written several graduate-level texts.

He uses music in his calculus classes at UT to encourage students to practice their math, history and other homework as they would practice playing a musical instrument. You cannot cram the night before a concert, so why would you study that way? Nadler asked.

Nadler also has made numerous trips to Mexico to study and present mathematics and has sponsored visits to the United States by Mexican mathematicians. He considers his interactions with Mexican mathematicians to be a highlight of his professional activities.

“It’s great to have UT faculty participating in important conferences like this,” Bjorkman said. “When UT faculty members participate in such conferences, they help to raise the profile of our university and bring recognition to the high-quality research and educational programs that are ongoing at UT. That in turn brings the University recognition, both at the national and international level.”

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