Discover an appreciation for the arts

By Paul DeLutio, Columnist

Clutching my umbrella and grumbling to myself as I walked across campus to the Krannert Center, I resented having waited so long to attend a concert for my world music class. After a 20-minute walk in the dark and cold rain, thinking about all the other things I had to do, I arrived at Krannert.

The March 30 show I attended was a memorial concert for a late faculty member whom the department had lost in the fall, a professor named Reid Alexander. Having no connection to the deceased, I felt somewhat out of place in an audience that appeared to be composed primarily of close friends, family and colleagues.

The playbill informed me that Alexander was a professor of piano pedagogy at the University. The booklet included testaments from fellow faculty that all indicated his unwavering dedication to teaching — always making his students a top priority.

I kept the booklet’s synopsis in mind, although I had not even begun to scratch the surface of this man’s lifetime of experience.

It wasn’t until the show began that I started to have an immense change of heart — what unfolded at this concert turned out to be one of the most gratifying and moving musical experiences I have ever witnessed.

Close friends and fellow faculty members all performed musical pieces that held a significance to the late musician. Many of the musicians were well into their sixties or seventies, and I admired the lifetime of work and dedication these people sacrificed for their craft. The performance truly honored the memory of Alexander with the music he loved so much in life.

As I sat there in Krannert, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat embarrassed for my attitude prior to the performance. This man had committed much of his life to music and impacting the lives of others, and before this concert I could not have understood that.

By the end of the show, after hearing the intermittent speakers talk about Alexander and the selections of music, I felt as if I had known him personally. It was truly a testament to the power music has to express emotions that are beyond words.

When I left the performance and the magnitude of the show had finally settled, I came to a new and exciting realization.

This concert was not only within walking distance, but it was also held at a venue that regularly celebrates the importance of art in the form of music and theatrics.

Being a university that is largely composed of engineers and technical majors, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of us are missing opportunities to admire the works of human expression happening in our own backyard.

The incredible value behind this expression lies in its ability to form the mind into a more well-rounded mechanism, thinking and experiencing in a way that is unique to each person.

This is a message to all you left-brained people out there. Quantitative reasoning will get you far, but only so far.

Strengthening your mind’s ability to think creatively is the finishing touch on a flexible and versatile mind, capable of tackling the most enigmatic real world problems.

It took a performance of this caliber to remind me of the importance of art in our lives.

I challenge you to visit Krannert for a performance at least once a month. Take a break from the numbers and change your mental pace. You might find something unforgettable that expands your ability to understand and perceive the world that surrounds you.

And to the family and friends of Reid Alexander: Thank you for an unforgettable performance that immortalized a life with music.

Paul is a freshman in LAS.

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