In my view, the arts play a central role in the life of every vibrant society. Its envisioning powers make the arts the place where many new ideas originate. The arts are what people do when they look at their lives - individually or socially - and think about where they’ve come from and where they’re going.

Seven years of doing film programming for the Cornell University Cinema gave me many opportunities to organize thematic series of films for the university community and the general public and to invite filmmakers to present their work.

It was my privilege to work on arts policy for the incoming Clinton administration in 1993. Within the Office of Presidential Personnel at the White House, I was an adviser on issues relating to the arts, the humanities, and archives, directing searches and recommending nominations to the President for appointments in the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum Services, and the National Archives and Records Administration. I then worked on preparing nominees for confirmation by the United States Senate. This work gave me an appreciation for the complexities of cultural policy in a diverse society.

At the Goethe-Institut, I produced a series of face-to-face dialogues (which became short videos) between the heads of the American cultural agencies and people in similar positions in Germany.

I have been a choral singer since high school. Some of the most memorable experiences in my life have revolved around performances with the Hamilton College Choir, the Ensemble Vocal Philippe Caillard in Paris, and here in Washington with several choirs under the leadership of maestro Robert Shafer. Currently I sing with the City Choir of Washington, of which Shafer is the musical director.

For the Hilda Stern Cohen project, I composed ten Lieder based on German poems by Hilda Stern Cohen. These have been performed numerous times in story-telling performances by Gail Rosen in the United States, Germany, Poland, and Austria. Most of them are included in the resulting film. I have also composed additional Lieder as well as some choral music.


The Arts and Culture

with poet and interviewer Grace Cavalieri, storyteller Gail Rosen, and Werner V. Cohen following the taping of an hour-long audio feature about the Hilda Stern Cohen project for “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress.” Photo courtesy Ken Flynn.

Hear the feature online from the Library of Congress website by clicking here.