Monday, August 19, 2013

Something to sing about

Orientation for new students started today, with a bang! I've been to a lot of these, but this one really wanted me to be a student starting at Lang. The dean recited poems about New York. The president of the university held up yesterday's New York Times Magazine, whose cover story profiles the journalists who helped Edward Snowden in his whistleblowing - the woman on the cover is a New School alumna! And then one of our own alumna spoke (a tradition I started two years ago). This time it was Jean Rohe, a folk singer who was also the student speaker at university commencement the year she graduated in 2006 - the year our then president controversially asked John McCain to be the main speaker; Jean reclaimed the graduation for the graduates (and made the news, too), in part with a song.

We got a song today, too. After some beautiful reflections on environmental, artistic, cross-cultural and exisential questions she picked up her guitar and sang us - actually, led us in - one of her songs. A radio station a few years ago challenged people to write a new, more relevant national anthem, and this was her response. It's quite lovely, and in its truthfulness very moving. I can't share with you the experience of her, alone with her guitar on the stage of the New School's famous auditorium, drawing us into her song. But she did just recently record a video of the same song, with a band and choir at Judson Church, which you can see here.

What a terrific way to start a college career!

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