Beautiful music on Penn’s campus comes from the Alumni Carillon . . .
The Westminster bells chime on the hour, and popular songs are heard throughout College Green at exactly noon and 6 PM each day. Since the late 1980s, I have had the pleasure of listening from my second floor office to beautiful bells playing throughout the center of campus. There were a few years, however, in the late 1990s that the Carillon did not play, but in 2004 a new Carillon was installed and continues to fill the center of campus with music.
This blog post is not only about the music of the Alumni Carillon, but to let you know that a plaque was just recently placed next to the front door of the E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House at 3533 Locust Walk. This acknowledgement displays not only our Penn pride, but our thanks for such a beautiful gift to Penn . . . now for all to see, as well as hear!
Plaque installed next to the front door entrance of the E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House
Today, I got an email from the Philadelphia Orchestra (nerd alert – I’m on their mailing list!) advertising a visiting orchestra coming to town and the fact that they’d be playing an all-Beethoven program, including my two favorite symphonies – Eroica and the 5th. I had a major, all-out nerd attack. In the span of two minutes, I called my husband, made sure that he was on board with the ticket purchase, ordered us two seats (after memorizing the seating layout in the Kimmel Center, including doing some Google image searches, to make sure the seats were acceptable), and exuberantly ran into another employee’s office telling her about my AMAZING purchase. Let’s just say that her reaction did not come close to matching my level of enthusiasm. I’m a classical music nut and I’m proud of it! I owe almost all of this love to the University of Pennsylvania’ s Department of Music.
As a freshman at Penn, I signed up for a first year seminar called “History of the Symphony.” I was intrigued by the title and thought it might be a good chance to learn something new. I sang in select choirs all through high school and was in the shows, plus I enjoyed musical things like Broadway. My dad is a classical music fan, and I’d always have to listen to classical music in his car when he’d drive me places. He give me the choice of riding with no music and actually…gasp…talking, or listening to classical music and, to me, the choice was clear. I’d pretend to hate it, but deep down, I thought it was beautiful. I liked how listening to classical music stirred my imagination, painted a mood for me, and let me be peaceful and reflective. I didn’t get to take any classes about classical music in high school, so when I got to Penn, it made sense to me to learn more about it. I loved my symphony class and before I graduated I took two more music classes, including a music history course and a course entirely on Beethoven.
I’ve talked in this blog before about how Penn is very pre-professional and how I was constantly worried that I didn’t know what I was going to do for the rest of my life. That’s true – except for the time I spent in music class. In music class, my fears about what would happen to me, my worries that what I was learning wasn’t applicable to the real world at all, faded away. I would watch my professor map out a symphony, feeling like I was learning a secret, beautiful code. I learned what motivated Beethoven to write such deeply meaningful pieces. I spent hours in the music library, learning how to identify parts of the symphony like the introduction, recapitulation, bridge and coda. Soon, I was mapping symphonies on my own. By the end of my classes, I could hear a few seconds of any Beethoven symphony, at any point, and correctly name it. It was amazing. I didn’t care how or when I used this knowledge, but for one of the only times in my life I was learning for the joy of learning. And I was happy.
I didn’t become a music major or even a minor. I never worked for a symphony or played for one. But what I gained from my three music classes was so valuable. I gained a love and knowledge of a true art form, which I will carry with me throughout my entire life. I learned the power of music to inspire true creativity and emotion. In learning this, I really think I became a better, more well-rounded person. When it comes down to it, I think that’s what a good college education should be about.
The Penn community has something to be excited about this October. A great piece of our University’s history and culture is turning 20! WXPN’s flagship program the World Cafe with David Dye is celebrating two decades programming all month long. I think all Penn students, faculty, staff and alumni will be surprised to know just how special this program truly is to our community.
The World Cafe has brought something really special to our campus. We house public radio’s leading popular music program. That’s pretty awesome considering that the program first aired out of WXPN’s original location which was a converted row home on 39th and Spruce and was distributed to only five radio stations throughout the country. Today, the program is produced in XPN’s beautiful facility at 30th and Walnut Streets and is nationally syndicated to more than 230 radio stations.
The show has been responsible for bringing so many musical legends to our neck of the woods. Elvis Costello paid a visit to our old station and had to borrow a keyboard from the guys across the street at Pi Lam fraternity. David Dye has interviewed legends like Herbie Hancock, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Steve Miller, Tim Robbins, (Penn alum) John Legend, Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson, and Michael Stipe all right on our campus! Now how many Universities can say that!?
We’ve also had many major artists visit the XPN studios for a World Cafe session at the start of their careers. Some of our first timers include Sheryl Crow, Ray LaMontagne, Feist and Adele. Thanks to the World Cafe, the Penn community has some great bragging rights and can say that we heard them first. To check out some more of our first timers, you can visit our 20th anniversary webpage.
WXPN and the World Cafe have served as great learning experiences for many Penn students through their internship program. I started working at XPN as an intern and a few of my colleagues are also Penn grads who started as interns, including our World Cafe line producer Beth Warshaw-Duncan. It’s been an exciting journey working on the World Cafe and I encourage Penn students to continue getting involved with our internship program- if you are interested you can find more info on the internship program here.
Now for the fun stuff… We’re having a month-long party over at XPN and we want you to celebrate the milestone with us!
You can tune into our show Monday through Friday from 2-4 PM to hear some fascinating programming that features the best interviews and artists that have appeared on the show. You can also visit our home on the NPR Music site to check out these themed programs that we have been broadcasting throughout October or to hear a mix of songs recorded for the World Cafe over the last twenty years. If you love these one-of-a-kind performances, we have created a 20 song sampler for the taking here.
WXPN's Host, David Dye
As much as we are looking back, we are also looking forward. We would love to share another sampler with you- 20 bands we have chosen as up-and-coming talent as a part of our daily World Cafe: Next feature. You can grab that music here.
We’re going to culminate our month-long celebration during the World Cafe Weekend Celebration from Friday, October 28 through Sunday, October 30 at World Cafe Live. We have some amazing artists coming to visit and pay tribute to the show and David. Throughout the weekend, you can catch performances by the Indigo Girls, John Hiatt, The Little Willies, Feist, Dawes, Amos Lee, Rhett Miller and Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks. It’s going to be a blast and we hope you that you can join us. Click here to learn more about the event and buy tickets!
We hope to keep the World Cafe going for another 20 years! We thank all of our fans and the Penn community for supporting us and helping us grow. As a listener supported station, we literally couldn’t have done it without you.
For more information on what’s happening during the anniversary month, click here. We sincerely hope that you’ll be able to join us as we celebrate this milestone and thank you for your continued support!
I jetted up to Boston for an alumni event with Eric Furda this Monday. While that event will be a future Locust Walk Talk entry, some of the particulars of the day inspired me to pursue a nostalgic topic for my Top Penn list today.
I had scheduled 6:05am flight to Boston. I rushed to the gate and learned there was a major delay with the flight. While I was waiting in line at the counter to learn about the delay’s impact on my travel I saw a fellow classmate and reunion planning committee member, Christine, heading down to her gate for an early morning flight too. We said “Hi” and waved, like two ship passing the night.
While finally en route, I cursorily scanned the invite list, so I didn’t notice that surprised that laid in store for me. Finally in town and at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, I set up the event and I remained oblivious to my future good fortune. As I was checking in attendees, someone called my name and I knew that she wasn’t reading my name tag. It was one of my Class’s Vice Presidents, Ari. We caught up a little as I checked her in and directed her into the reception.
Before the Dean arrived, I looked up and saw yet another classmate. I shared with Clé, who was on the reunion planning committee also, that I saw Christine in the morning. We also had a nice moment to chat before the program started and I was generally energized by seeing three of my classmates unexpectedly that day.
At the end of the program, I was able to chat a little longer with my classmates and we all were pleased about our very mini-reunion. Musing on our last quinquennial reunion, we all had remembered how good the song list was. I know from my days in Classes and Reunions how diligently our student volunteers, College House Alumni Ambassadors (CHAA) , worked to come of with a good list of songs for our DJ to use to plan the reunion’s music. I remember in one meeting that we, the committee, suggested that the CHAA students look up the top singles from our last year at Penn. That would be a great source of songs that would be evocative of our senior year. They did it and it brought us back to 1995.
Reminiscent from seeing my classmates, I looked up the 10 Billboard Hot 100 songs for our last year at Penn. This list ranks the best-performing singles in the United States on a weekly basis. Ending with the best performing single of our senior week, I give you the last Ten Hot 100 number-one singles for the Class of 1995.
10. “Bump n’ Grind,” R. Kelly
9. “The Sign,” by Ace of Base first hit the best single list on March 12, 1994, and ran for four weeks until R. Kelly dethroned it. After a month of “Bump n’ Grind,” “The Sign” came back an bumped R. Kelly from the number-one position and earned the top spot in time for the Class of 1994’s senior week.
8. “I Swear,” All-4-One held on for eleven weeks as number one during the summer before our senior year.
7. “Stay (I Missed You),” Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
6. “I’ll Make Love to You,” Boyz II Men ruled the airwaves for 14 weeks, defining our fall semester.
5. “On Bended Knee,” Boyz II Men
4. “Here Comes the Hotstepper” Ini Kamoze
4a. “On Bended Knee,” Boyz II Men took a break for two weeks for “Here Comes the Hotstepper” and resurged back on the list. Our senior year was the year of Boyz II Men; their two singles were on the list for a total of 17 weeks!
3. “Creep,” TLC
2. “Take a Bow” Madonna, and, if you know me, you know that I’m very happy to include her!
As the class of 1995 donned its graduation robes and lined up in Superblock (now known as Hamilton Village), the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of the day was:
1. “This Is How We Do It” Montell Jordan, which is a great song for the Class of 1995, and this is the song that heralded us onto College Green as we marched in the parade for our 15th reunion.
Earlier this year, the Penn Club of Austin hosted a kick-off event for South by Southwest, the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival. Penn Alumni were invited to LIVESTRONG head quarters to hear from Philippe G. Hills, Executive Vice President for Development and Renee Nicholas, Challenge Director.
Phil and Renee spoke about Lance’s story with his battle with cancer – all before he even won a Tour de France jersey – and the mission of the Lance Armstrong Foundation – to inspire and empower people affected by cancer. Lance took an active role in educating himself about his disease and underwent aggressive treatment to beat the disease into remission. From this experience, he funneled his work and research on cancer and its treatment into the Lance Armstrong Foundation, LIVESTRONG, in order to provide people affected by cancer, the survivors and their family, with information that they need to continue living with the security that they will be able to access treatment and life has they know it will continue.
Lance’s Seven Yellow Jerseys, one for each Tour de France victory
Renee told her personal story of her involvement with LIVESTRONG. After losing her father to cancer, she joined her sister in Austin to settle down. She started to volunteer for LIVESTRONG after hearing a story on the radio about the local Lance Armstrong’s work in cancer support. Her volunteering led to her being hired as LIVESTRONG’s third employee. “The sentence, ‘You have cancer,’ is one of the most frightening that you will ever hear,” she said. Renee then explained how LIVESTRONG’s mission was to provide all the information to a survivor to make decisions for their treatment and well as continuing one’s quality of life after treatment is over.
The wall of all the LIVESTRONG employees
Renee illustrated the work with examples. Cancer and its treatment can leave a survivor with the need to review current and future financial goals. Knowing that dealing with financial matters is overwhelming, the organization can help define one’s present financial status, as well as prepare for future needs through planned spending and refocusing of one’s budgets. Chemotherapy can render survivors infertile. Therefore, the organization developed the Sharing Hope program to connect recently diagnosed cancer patients to discounted fertility preservation options before beginning cancer treatment. In addition to teaching patients, LIVESTRONG has programs to teach doctors how and what to speak to their patients about in addition to their diagnosis.
A piece from the STAGES exhibition (on loan from Mark Parker, President & CEO of Nike Inc.)
Ten years after she started working with LIVESTRONG, she found herself on the receiving end. “ ‘You have cancer, ’ my doctor told me,” Renee shared with us. She, however upset and devastated, didn’t lose hope. The work that she had been doing for a decade immediately gave her strength. All the research that she did and the relationships that she forged were going to be at her service to help her survive. With the resources at LIVESTRONG, she has now been in remission for over three years.
This story instantly affected all of the Penn alumni in the room. Everyone seemed to exhale at once in awe of Renee’s story. Some people were wiping their eyes and others were grabbing the tissues on the table. She is the example of what LIVESTRONG is all about.
Deeply moved, we continued with a tour of the LIVESTRONG facility, including the office space, the event space and the amenities for staff, volunteers, and cancer patients and survivors. The location in East Austin is a rehabilitated warehouse, and the architects reused most of the original materials to earn a LEED Gold certification for renovations. The headquarters house several pieces of art from Lance’s private art collection, includes some from STAGES, LIVESTRONG’s global, thematic art exhibit aimed at raising worldwide awareness.
At the end of the tour, Phil and Renee brought us back to the boardroom and let us know that any non-profit organization in the greater Austin area can contact LIVESTRONG to use their faculty outside of business hours to hold meetings and to host events since the foundation feels that it is its responsible to help other non-profits success when resources are scarce and meeting space is at a high premium.
The East Austin neighborhood
The evening ended with many people thanking Phil, Renee, and David Hanson, our Penn alumnus who worked with LIVESTRONG to make this event happen. Several of the alumni attending the event went out of their way to note their appreciation of the access to LIVESTRONG and to express their gratitude to Renee for sharing her story.
A parking lot of food trucks in East Austin
I am always amazed at how connected our alumni are in the world. Without a Penn alumnus volunteering to host an event for his fellow alumni on the eve of one of the biggest music, media, and film conferences and festivals in the world, we wouldn’t have shared in this wonderful tale of triumph. Personally, I am grateful beyond words.