Project LENS Explores Violence in Music with Steven Pinker and the Parker Quartet

By Rainer Crosett

Project LENS will present a special event exploring violence in music with Steven Pinker and the Parker Quartet at Paine Hall, Harvard University on Friday, February 13th at 7:30pm. In his book The Better Angels of our Nature, Pinker argues that violence in human societies has declined over time, but when it comes to classical music, people often think the opposite – contemporary music has a reputation for being jarring, sparse, and even violent. LENS aims to debunk this myth through an exploration of violence in music over the past 400 years and an examination of global trends that help explain the history of violent music in light of Pinker’s thesis. The Parkers and musicians from LENS will perform works by Biber, Schubert, Shostakovich, and Widmann.

Project LENS is a new Boston-based performance collaborative with the mission of revealing connections between music and a wide variety of topics in the world beyond, ranging from biology to humor, philosophy, and birdsong. Founded in 2014 by three Harvard-New England Conservatory Joint Program graduates – Ariel Mitnick, Alan Toda-Ambaras, and Rainer Crosett – the project has already put on events in local venues as diverse as The Pucker Gallery, Le Laboratoire Cambridge, and the St. Botolph Club.

Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, he has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association.

The members of the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet are the new Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University. The Parkers are one of the most distinguished chamber music ensembles of their generation, having won both the Concert Artists Guild Competition and the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition and performed in many of the world’s most renowned venues.

Tickets – $25 for adults and $15 for students/recent grads – are available for purchase online exclusively at the following address: For more information, please contact Project LENS at or visit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s