In Defense of a Young Artist

KeanNevermind

July 26, 2001

To: Dr. M__T__

Associate Professor of Music

Kean University

Dr. T__

This letter is in regard to our telephone conversation this morning, which concerned incoming Kean student Marianne Nowottny. First of all, let me thank you for your time and attention. We are aware that the circumstances surrounding Ms. Nowottny’s enrollment at Kean are unique and your patience was appreciated. We do intend to follow your suggestion and will attempt to enroll her in the music department at William Patterson or Morris County College.

It is unfortunate that Marianne did not pass the audition for the music department at Kean University and there is a lingering question here. Marianne was under the impression that, since she was given her petition and class schedule two months ago, she was in fact going to be accepted as a music major. She was quite upset to learn otherwise and wonders why she was ever given a class schedule. You yourself heard her piano playing and placed her in classical piano, only to pull her out with just a few weeks to go before the semester begins. Your reasons were not fully explained to Ms. Nowottny, nor were they explained to me in any satisfactory way. We are curious as to why this decision was made. She will now have to reconsider all of her classes, something that will only magnify the normal stress and strain experienced by an incoming freshman.

As Marianne Nowottny’s label representative here at Abaton Book Company, I have to mention that I take personal offense at a statement you made during our phone conversation. You told me that you felt we were “leading her down the wrong path.” Am I to understand that you arrived at this conclusion by playing Marianne’s recent CD Manmade Girl to a colleague there at Kean “who knows a lot about pop music”? Please let me give you some background information. My wife, Lauri Bortz, and I have been working diligently with Marianne since she was 14 years old. We have published her poetry and drawings, recorded, produced and promoted her musical projects, and obtained paid commissions for her oil paintings. We have worked as closely as possible with her parents, Ingomar and Nancy, to promote her extraordinary talents to best of our abilities, always encouraging her to work hard, and be true to her artistic vision.

Marianne has been able to teach herself to play the keyboard by ear and express herself musically. She is very enthusiastic to learn, and was looking forward to the challenge of Kean University. She felt that she would be an asset to your music department and hoped that the department would be willing to help her fill in the gaps in her musical education. It would seem that this is exactly what the liberal arts department should be doing; taking the opportunity to develop her talents further, claiming her as one of their own. It is quite heartbreaking for me to see someone of her abilities, someone who really wants to learn to read and write music, to communicate her ideas to other musicians effectively, denied this opportunity.

I have enclosed some of the press that Marianne has received. Her CDs have been reviewed in a positive manner in many publications. Marianne has been called “indisputably one of the major musical figures of her generation” by Joe Harrington of New York Press and “far removed from the romantic bromides of chart-topping kiddie-pop” by Jon Pareles of The New York Times. I would think that someone such as yourself would appreciate and understand the importance of a positive review in such an established paper as The New York Times.

You should also know that Marianne has played concerts at both The Museum of Modern Art and The New Museum. She has performed many times at The Knitting Factory, Tonic, Maxwell’s, and most of the new music venues in NYC. She has played live with such personalities as Eric Mingus, son of jazz legend Charles Mingus, and with avant-garde composer Elliott Sharp. Marianne has also performed on the same bill as experimental pianist Kathleen Supove and Karen Mantler, daughter of jazz composer Carla Bley. She has done live radio concerts on WPRB, Princeton University; WURS, Rutgers University; WFMU, Jersey City; KFJC, Palo Alto, CA . Her voice has been compared to that of Om Kalsoum, Patty Waters, Marlene Dietrich, Nico, Patti Smith, and P.J. Harvey; her musical compositions to those of jazz genius Sun Ra, modern classical composer Carl Orff, and experimental artist Meredith Monk. Encouraging Marianne to continue to pursue an already successful career could hardly be considered “leading her down the wrong path.”

Again, thank you for your time.

Mark Dagley

Abaton Book Company

cc. Ronald L. __

Dr. Jose __

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