I know it’s been a long prelude, but I’m here to tell you that the fugue has begun. We’ve assembled the $98.5 million that is required; the board has approved building the new music building that all of you helped design; and, although you didn’t see it, site preparation for construction actually began today. I will be announcing this shortly to others within and beyond the university community, but I wanted you to hear it first.
I’m thrilled this moment has finally come. You’ve built a world-class School of Music, and you deserve world-class facilities in which to teach and in which our students can perform. After more than 100 years, it’s time.
If you will permit me, however, there’s something more I would like to say to you today.
No one would confuse a music score with actual music. The notation on the page only leaps to life when breath is pushed into an instrument, when fingers attack the keys, when a bow touches the strings. For that brief moment, music exists.
The same is true of a School of Music. Each morning, as you enter the building and take up your teaching, conducting, and critical support for all this, the DePaul School of Music leaps into life for the day. And then, as you head home, the School of Music disappears as well until the following day, when you return and it springs back to life.
You are the School of Music; not the building we are about to construct. The building will be beautiful, I promise. But it is no more the School of Music than these notes on the page. You bring this school into being every day, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
You have created one of the nation’s preeminent schools of music. Your studios have exacting standards, and develop musicians of extraordinary proficiency and musicality, as well as ensemble playing that is precise and thrilling. Our students walk away each day better musicians than when they began the day because of your tutelage and, I believe, better human beings as well.
We all know when the human heart infuses a performance or is sterilely absent. You call that forth from of your students. This is a small community. You know one another well. You walk with our students through their discoveries of life – through early loves and breakups, through self-doubt and fear, through the loss of friends and colleagues, all the challenges of real human life. You can’t fix your students’ or even each other’s lives, but you do put a true community around those lives. This is a place for laughter and friendship, and to close ranks around each other in times of need.
Every human being needs to learn to manage life with grace and wisdom, but musicians even more so. Thank you for the humanity at the core of your technical prowess. Both are key and characteristic of the work you undertake. That, too, is the School of Music that comes to life each day, and which I so admire.
Thank you for making all of us so proud. Thank you for the magnificence of your work. As we now construct a new showcase for the school, may you go from strength-to-strength, and may the heart of this school always flourish.
God bless you and congratulations.