The Colgate Scene
January 2000
Table of contents
People on the go

Production music coordinator Lois Dilivio kidded around with director Wes Craven at a screening of his first non-genre film, Music Of the Heart, at the Apollo Theater in New York last fall.
Music in her heart
Lois Dilivio '82 had her hands full on the set of Music of the Heart, and she loved it. As production music coordinator, she had to make sure all things musical went smoothly. The true-life film, starring Meryl Streep as Roberta Guaspari, founder of a violin program in East Harlem, features nearly 150 child violinists with varying levels of acting experience and loads of energy.

     "The kids were always running around, and things would break. I spent a lot of time fixing violin bridges, putting on new strings."

     As scenes were shot, Dilivio worked with Streep and the children to synchronize the action to the pre-recorded music and make everything look authentic -- such as keeping their bows moving together.

     "The biggest problem was to keep the kids from looking into the camera." And because the students in the story improved tremendously over time, Dilivio had another challenge.

     "For early scenes, we had to get more advanced players to look like they were beginners, which is very difficult for them," she remarked. "It's always hard to get a shot right the first time, and children can only legally work 6 or 7 hours a day, so there's tremendous pressure.

     "It was the perfect job for me because they needed somone with management skills, which I have from my retail job, as well as music knowledge." A violinist herself, Dilivio was once an assistant engineer at a jingle house, and she's also a composer with an M.Mus. from Mannes. She describes her music as "melodic contemporary classical with a pop edge." Her current projects are a cello-piano suite and a "big vocal piece about cats -- it's quick, it's entertaining, it's funny." She also proofreads contemporary music for Schirmer.

     Each student in the film, which was released in the fall, had two violins: one normal, one silent.

     "For certain sequences, the violins were silenced so that dialogue could be recorded." Tiny filaments wrap around the strings so they can be bowed without producing sound -- another challenge for the children, who had to look as if they could hear what they were playing. Later, a pre-recorded performance would be layered over the dialogue.

     Of Streep, Dilivio commented, "She's very friendly and warm, very focused. She set the tone for the whole production." Dilivio also pointed out, in an article on the movie's website, the extreme difficulty Streep overcame, filming classroom scenes in which she had to simultaneously play the violin and instruct students -- she had had only two months of lessons. "Musicians rarely have to talk while they perform. But Meryl had to talk, act, play and hit her marks."

     The crew had "three tremendous days at Carnegie Hall," including the `Fiddlefest' scene with Streep and violinists Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman, which took until 3:30 a.m. Dilivio can now say she has performed at Carnegie Hall.

     "During the audience reaction shots, there was no room on stage for the kids, only the camera crew, so the parents in the audience were actually watching me."

     "We were all so tired, and the work was so intense, those late hours really took on a timeless quality. It was magical." RAC

  Bearing witness
Marguerite Feitlowitz '75, author of A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture, read from her book, spoke about recent events in Argentina and answered questions as part of a powerful Humanities Colloquium.

     Feitlowitz graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude with a double major in French and English, and language has been at the core of her work ever since. Feitlowitz writes "with enormous compassion for those whose testimony she has collected and with steady and focused indignation that the crimes that were inflicted could occur and could, in so many cases, go unpunished," said Associate Professor of Spanish Fred Luciani.

     "It was very meaningful to return to Colgate," said Feitlowitz. "I had realized during my years at Harvard, that the education -- in particular, the mentoring -- I'd received at Colgate had very much influenced my formation as a college teacher.

     "When I visited Lourdes Rojas's class, I had an experience that literally made me gasp -- seated around the seminar table were upwards of 20 women! When I was a student, we never could have raised that many women for one class. It was delightful to see."

     Feitlowitz recently was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship. "I'm embarking on another book project and also writing a series of essays deriving from my Fulbright experience in Argentina. I am also writing about historical memory as it relates to and is expressed in shared public space. In Argentina -- as in Germany and elsewhere -- the representation of history, the reclaiming of public space, the creation of monuments and "memory sites" is complicated and controversial." JH

People Tree
Philip Salisbury '65 has always had a fascination with trees and a drive to understand what makes up the "quality of life" for individuals.

     A researcher with the Illinois Department of Public Aid's Bureau of Quality Control, where he studies Medicaid issues, Salisbury also has a second job. With People Tree, his research and development service, he's going even further to improve practice and increase knowledge in human services, education and human welfare.

     "I was inspired by questions that came out of my work in the agency," Salisbury explained of People Tree, which he founded in 1995. "I have thought seriously about the issues and circumstances faced by low-income people in our society and how we think of them in the social welfare field."

     Salisbury's research was used during the Welfare Reform debate that peaked in early 1995. Russell Baker of The New York Times wrote an interpretive article about the poor and the U.S. economic system based upon Salisbury's work. Subsequently, the Congressional Budget Office used the research to inform two areas of debate about the resulting legislation.

     This September, Salisbury presented his findings about the factors affecting birth rates among young black women in Social Indicators Research.

     "Birth rate variation is a problem few people understand," he noted. "Conceptions vary on a seasonal basis, and no one has been able to explain why. I've come the closest of anyone." Salisbury stressed that understanding the factors behind such complex issues is a matter of important policy concern, with consequences for the quality of life of many Americans.

     In his September article, and two previous pieces, Salisbury discussed his theory of "compensatory validation," which maintains that certain behaviors (such as having babies) result when individuals try to compensate for lack of satisfaction in other areas of their lives (such as economic stability).

     He's working toward a textbook on human welfare theory, hoping to "provide some new ways of thinking of human welfare issues and integrating understandings of how we think about them."

     Salisbury's interest in human welfare extends from his work in the Peace Corps, graduate school at Syracuse University's Maxwell School, where he earned an M.P.A., and his broad experience at Colgate. He vividly remembers experiencing with Clement Henshaw the physicist's way of thinking.

     "Henshaw would go through experimental events from the history of physics and talk about the lives and times of the people who had done them, and what was important to the history of their thought. I was fascinated by what was going on before my eyes. Much of that has stayed with me."

     Salisbury and his wife Mary run People Tree together. "She does the bookkeeping and keeps me on the straight and narrow," he quipped. The name was inspired by his growing up on an apple farm in Phelps, New York. "Of course, apple trees are very productive. And there's good research that shows homeowners who plant trees tend to remain in the same location longer than those who do not."

     In addition to research, People Tree has done personnel consulting, which ties well to Salisbury's research interests.

     "Our society could do better at fitting people into jobs they find satisfying." He plans to return to this activity soon. "Lots of people could benefit by it." RAC

Top of page
Table of contents
<< Previous: "Game Day" Next: "Around the college" >>