Last week I went with a number of colleagues to see the Met’s new production of Porgy and Bess and we happened to sit next to an alumnus. I had never met him. When he realized who we were, he talked a little about his time at the School in the 1950s and even did a very good imitation of the School’s first orchestra director, Stanley Gauger. I’m no longer surprised at this kind of Allen-Stevenson serendipity, and I delight in it. This time, perhaps because I’m beginning to hear snatches of The Pirates of Penzance in the hallways of the School, I fancied it was the School’s long embrace of music that had brought my fellow teachers and this alumnus together in America’s great opera hall. This was another reminder that the School’s music program is a blessing to us all.
Great minds have spoken eloquently on the subject. Whitman called music “the profoundest expression of nature,” and Nietzsche, bluntly, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Researchers continue to discover all the ways music enhances our lives, and clearly, an education without the study of music is hardly an education at all. More recently, Michelle Demko, Head of the Music Department, at home among great minds, movingly described earlier performances of Pirates and “the wall of sound” that greeted her when all boys, maidens and pirates, raised their voices in the operetta’s grand paean to poetry, “Hail Poetry.” I’ve heard that “wall of sound” many times, and it is thrilling. Her reminding me of that music made me wonder if over sixty years ago and under the baton of Maestro Gauger, our fellow opera lover and new alumni acquaintance, had raised his voice in praise of poetry. I think he did.
Fortiter et Recte!
David Kersey h'98