The Group

Project LENS

What we do

Project LENS, a production of ANALOG arts, is a Boston-based performance collaborative that explores the ways in which music is connected to the world around it. Our events weave TED-style talks given by experts in their fields together with classical performance, revealing parallels that cast both subjects in a new light. We believe music can interact meaningfully with virtually any other discipline, and our events have featured topics as diverse as evolution, moral philosophy, neurobiology, visual art, and documentary filmography.

Why we're here

Founded in 2014, Project LENS was born out of its founders’ curiosity about the world and the music that we love. Ariel Mitnick (CEO, violinist), Rainer Crosett (CFO, cellist), and Alan Toda-Ambaras (COO, cellist) have been pursuing both classical music and academic studies with equal passion since childhood. Our goal is to explore how and why it is that thinking about and playing music while considering other contexts inspires us ... and what it can teach us.

What we've done... so far

Project LENS has collaborated with speakers such as psychologist and author Steven Pinker, Emmy Award-winning documentary film producers Kathleen Hughes and Tom Casciato, and numerous professors from universities such as Harvard, Tufts, and Wesleyan. We have worked with musicians including the Grammy-winning Parker Quartet, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and prize winners at various international competitions. Our events have been featured at festivals such as Cambridge Science Festival and conferences hosted by the American Synesthesia Association and the Diller-Quaile school. And we have appeared at venues including art galleries, educational spaces, lecture halls, and traditional concert halls.
We've performed a dozen original programs for thousands of people, and we can't wait to perform for you.

The LENS Team

Ariel Mitnick

CEO, Violinist

Ariel Mitnick, holds an A.B. in Neurobiology from Harvard College, from which she graduated magna cum laude, and an M.M. in violin performance from New England Conservatory where she studied with Donald Weilerstein and graduated with academic honors. At Harvard, Ariel was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa society and was a three-time Harvard College Scholar; at NEC, she was elected to Pi Kappa Lambda, a musical honors society. As a biologist, Ariel's research includes work on dopamine receptors involved in schizophrenia and zebrafish brain mapping, as well as an honors thesis on a cerebellar algorithm. With a wide range of academic interests, Ariel has also enjoyed exploring electrical engineering, literature, computer science, economics, and philosophy; she previously worked as a philosophy research assistant in the field of epistemology. Ariel's violin career has led her to appear at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as a soloist with the Westchester Philharmonic and other orchestras, and at music festivals such as Yellow Barn Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, The Perlman Music Program, and the Music Festival of the Hamptons. She has performed at venues such as Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory and has collaborated with renowned musicians such as Roger Tapping, Robert Levin, Natasha Brofsky, and Anthony Marwood. Ariel currently works at Knewton as a software engineer.

Rainer Crosett

CFO, Cellist

Rainer Crosett received his M.M. in Cello Performance at New England Conservatory, where he studied with Paul Katz. He received his A.B. magna cum laude in Philosophy from Harvard, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and received an Artist Development Fellowship and the Lucy Allen Paton Prize for excellence in the humanities and fine arts. He has performed at the Yellow Barn, Aspen, and Kneisel Hall music festivals and served as principal cellist of the New York String Orchestra. His philosophical interests include the foundations of human rights and international justice, and he has been involved extensively in advocacy efforts on the issue of North Korean human rights. He is particularly excited about the ways that music can be a force for social change, and he has given several fundraising concerts for North Korean refugees in both the US and Seoul. Rainer completed a Graduate Certificate in Cello Performance at USC in May 2017 and is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma there with Ralph Kirshbaum.

Alan Toda-Ambaras

COO, Cellist

Alan Toda-Ambaras is the recipient of the Prize for Most Promising Contestant at the 2005 Rostropovich International Cello Competition in Paris. Alan is active as both a soloist and a chamber musician. He has performed with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, appeared at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and performed in the Taos Music Festival and the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. Alan has participated in masterclasses and taken lessons with many of the world's foremost artists, including Luis Claret, Philippe Muller, Ralph Kirshbaum, Gary Hoffman, David Geringas (at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, in Siena), Jens Peter Maintz, Frans Helmerson, Anner Bylsma (all three at the Kronberg Academy in Germany), Janos Starker, and Joel Krosnick. He received an Artist Development Fellowship from Harvard, where he enjoyed studying the evolving significance of human gesture and physicality in modern and postmodern painting. He has an A.B. in History of Art and Architecture from Harvard and an M.M. from the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Laurence Lesser. Alan served as Music Scholar in ­Residence in Harvard's Cabot House and as co-director of the Quad Chamber Program for 3 years. He is co-founder of the Eureka Ensemble, a musical organization dedicated to social service and inclusivity projects in the Boston area.

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