• Brent Reidy ’05

    The Arts in Context: Three Questions for Brent Reidy '05

    Thursday, October 19, 2017

Brent Reidy ’05 is the deputy director for research and collections services at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (LPA). There, he oversees the library's four curators and helps to manage operations, budgets, and strategic initiatives. Reidy, who majored in music at Dartmouth, is also a PhD candidate musicology at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington. His dissertation is focused on President Kennedy's arts policies.

Was there a class, professor, or experience you had at Dartmouth that helped solidify your passion for musicology?

Yes. I owe it all to Steve Swayne [Jacob H. Strauss 1922 Professor of Music]. I took a music history course with him in my junior year. The first week we took a deep dive into Beethoven's fourth piano concerto and how it relates to the myth of Orpheus, along with the concerto's broader historical context. I'd listened to the piece a dozen times before but never knew the context. The music suddenly came alive to me in an entirely new way. I was hooked; I realized that I'd yet to hear all my favorite pieces of music. I turned my focus from composition to music history overnight. 

You recently joined the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts as deputy director of research and collections services. What do you find most rewarding about your work with the library?

As deputy director, I oversee our research division in music, theatre, dance, and recorded sound, managing the Library for the Performing Art's (LPA) curators and otherwise having oversight on matters of preservation, digitization, acquisition, and so on. So, I and the team at LPA are more or less entrusted to steward collections of millions of treasured items that are central to the history of the performing arts. I can't imagine a job that would be more deeply rewarding or humbling. 

In 2014, Professor Swayne officiated your wedding to theater producer Rachel Karpf ’07. What’s it like having so much Dartmouth creativity in one household?

This feels like a leading question! I'll do my best to deflect it. I started out as a composer and still play piano. Rachel sings and has done some acting and directing. But I found myself pulled into arts administration and Rachel was drawn to producing. While we are both creative people, we truly find joy in facilitating the creativity of others. We'd rather be behind the curtain than in front of it every day. Our household might be somewhat creative, but it tends to get a whole lot more artistic when our friends in music and theatre come over and give our piano a workout.