Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Peter and Priscilla (Kate) Myrick Diamond. For his retirement after 44 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she has commissioned a work for two pianos for him.

There’s no reason other than fate, and perhaps geography, that a world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist named Peter Diamond became a lover of the Red Sox.

But as Diamond retires, he not only will throw a first pitch at a Fenway Park home game; he gets an April 30 performance of “Diamond Watch: Double Play for Two Pianos,” by Institute Professor John Harbison, commissioned by Priscilla (Kate) Myrick Diamond, a longtime curatorial associate at the Museum of Fine Arts, as a birthday present for her husband.

“‘Diamond Watch’ was fun to write, a piece for an occasion I envisioned as enjoyable, with cherished performers, attentive listeners and a location I’ve grown to love even for its acoustics, Kresge Auditorium at MIT,” Harbison said.

In describing how he wrote “Diamond Watch,” Harbison said:

I got to thinking about the various intersections between [baseball] games, statistics, musical shapes, rules, frames and predictions, and began imagining a series of variations. The movement titles offer a heavy hint as to the origin of the ground. One amusing aspect of the piece more available to the performers than the listeners is the graphic representation of diamonds in the variation called “Diamond daze.” I think of it as an analogy to the representation of the dedicatees as part of the composition in Renaissance paintings and, as such, an acknowledgement of Kate Diamond’s keen participation in the conception of this project.

The title “institute professor” is the highest honor given by the institute’s faculty and administration —  only 14 people hold the honor, in addition to nine institute professors emeriti — and it is shared by Diamond, a likely Nobel laureate who was mentioned last month as a candidate for Federal Reserve leadership. He has done groundbreaking work looking at tax systems, national debt and other aspects of consumer welfare and been active in public policy discussions, particularly about Social Security.

He has taught at the institute for 44 years.

His custom send-off will be performed by pianists Robert Levin (an expert on Mozart out of Harvard) and Ya-Fei Chuang (of the Boston Conservatory of Music), who will also play Stravinsky’s “Sonata for Two Pianos”; Rachmaninoff’s Suite for Two Pianos No. 2, Op. 17; Lutoslawski’s “Variations on a Theme of Paganini for Two Pianos”; Poulenc’s “Sonata for Two Pianos”; and another work by Harbison, “David’s Fascinating Rhythm Method (arr. for two pianos).”

The concert begins at 8 p.m. April 30 at the institute’s Kresge Auditorium. For information, click here.