What a wonderful week!
This week marks Weill Week on campus, a series of events honoring the late Kurt Weill, the composer perhaps best known for his work with Bertholt Brecht on the “Threepenny Opera.” Weill, along with poet Langston Hughes and playwright Elmer Rice, created the American opera “Street Scene,” which is being performed this week by the Oberlin Opera Theater.
The show opens on Wednesday, November 5, in Hall Auditorium and is also being presented on November 7 and 9. Tickets are $10 for the public, and $8 students.
I have a special interest in this production. My wife and I have very brief cameos near the end of the show.
Preparing for our quick turn under the lights has been fascinating. It is such a pleasure to see the talented Conservatory students interpret this American classic under the direction of Jonathon Field and the conducting of Christopher Larkin. The singer/actors and orchestra (and their faculty) and all those involved with the stunning set, lighting, and costumes deserve great applause. The opera, which takes place on two scalding hot days in 1946, strikes me as extremely relevant today with its themes touching on inequality, prejudice, and violence. If you have a chance to see it, please do.
Speaking of a wonderful week, I was pleased to hear Ray English, Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries at Oberlin College, deliver the talk at the annual Friends of the Library dinner. Ray’s speech was entitled, “It’s a Wonderful Library!” That title was in part a reference to the famous Frank Capra film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Ray, who will be retiring in June after 25 years of service here, not only talked about the tremendous resources of the library including our superb collections and the state-wide access to materials via OhioLink, but also discussed the library’s future. Among other challenges, Ray mentioned the growth of technology, the need to evaluate the quality of information available now on the web, and the changing nature of the library as a place.
Ray has been a leading expert on local and national library issues. He was named Association of College & Research Libraries Academic/ Research Librarian of the Year in 2006, and received in 2009 the Hugh Atkinson Memorial Award that recognizes “an eminent librarian and leader” in the academic library profession.
Thanks, Ray, for your extraordinary leadership at Oberlin and at the national level in promoting open access, raising information literacy, recruiting talented students into the library profession, and other important issues.
Finally, I note that many significant people will be coming to campus this coming weekend—namely parents and families. This year’s schedule of activities features an amazing range of attractions.
To note just a few, on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. in the Science Center’s Dye Lecture Hall, I’m moderating a panel discussion “What the 2014 Election Means for the Future,” featuring John Lawrence '70, PhD, retired chief of staff for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; Michael Parkin, associate professor of politics; Eve Sandberg, associate professor of politics; and Tim Hall, associate professor of philosophy.
Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at the Apollo, current Oberlin parent Jim Miller, will talk about his New York Times bestseller Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told by Its Stars, Writers and Guests. Jim will also share clips from the show.
And of course there’s the big parents brunch on Sunday morning. There are also some impressive new establishments in Oberlin comers since I wrote that column. They include Treehuggers, Kim’s Grocery, and The Local. And a word of caution to first-years, if you’re planning on taking your family to brunch at the Feve or Black River Cafe, be prepared to stand in line.
We’ve had terrific Convocation speakers this semester, and more to come in the months ahead. Unfortunately, Zadie Smith will not be able to take part in the series as planned. We will reschedule her for the following academic year.
Our Convocation speakers second semester will be: Regina Benjamin, physician and a former vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps who served as the 18th Surgeon General of the United States on February 25, 2015; Dean Baquet, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and executive editor of The New York Times on March 25; Annie Leibovitz, the famed photographer, on April 1; and Vijay Seshadri ’74, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, on April 7.
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