Carlyn graduated from Cleveland Institute of Music on Saturday – it was the most moving commencement ceremony I’ve ever experienced, and with two children, two grandchildren and a few of my own, there have been lots of them.
One of the things that made it so moving was the musical performances by extremely talented seniors – a string quartet played Mendelsson’s ‘Ist Es Wahr? (Is it true?) and there was a Strauss piece with voice and piano, and an amazing cello-piano piece by Gaspar Cassado called Dance of the Green Devil. The cellist used a borrowed Stradivarius and Antonio would have been proud.
There were just 86 in Carlyn’s graduating class, with another 75 graduate students, so every name could be read separately while the cap-and-gowned students had their walk across the stage to applause and some cheers.
The most moving part of the Commencement, however, was the recipient of an honorary doctorate to Jose Antonio Abreu, a Venezuelan conductor, composer, economist and former Minister of Culture.
Abreu has spent most of his long music career working with underprivileged children, introducing them to the world of classical music, and introducing them to musical instruments, forming 65 orchestras for young people. Many years ago he realized the power of music and the liberating influence of learning to play an instrument by children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to discover the deeply spiritual experience it provides.
A special Alumni Association Award was given to Isabel Trautwein who took a leave of absence from the Cleveland Orchestra for eight months to explore the above-mentioned Venezuelan music-education program initiated by Jose Abreu, called El Sistema, the System. She taught in Caracas, Venezuela and the countryside, where 350,000 children play in youth orchestras in 200 music schools.
Trautwein said, “If you take 10 children from the ages between 6 and 9 and you present them with the opportunity to play an instrument, you will find talent and enthusiasm for that in the same ratio wherever you go.” Carlyn will be staying at Cleveland Institute of Music for her graduate study. Lory and I are very proud of her, of course, and glad she found the teacher and program she wants to pursue.
Closer to home, Roberta Finkelstein met with the staff last Thursday, hearing from each one about their work at the church, and we, in turn, got to learn about her. We’re confident that she will provide the kind of transition work an interim minister offers – a bridge between a long-term ministry and the eventual introduction of a new, called minister.
I hope the transition is going okay for you as we move into these closing weeks. Be well.