Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

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Holiday Concert

Category: University Events
December, 2021
EMPAC Concert Hall

Holiday Concert

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Welcome, everyone — to those here in the audience, and to those watching on livestream. 

This afternoon, we are going to enjoy the President’s Holiday Concert — each year, one of the most delightful events on our calendar.

Last year, the exigencies of the pandemic meant that we could not be together in our magnificent concert hall at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, or EMPAC. Nonetheless, we experienced a wonderful virtual concert, ingeniously assembled from remote performances, as well as carefully socially distanced performances without an audience, here in the concert hall.
It truly is a delight to be able to host an in-person concert for the members of our campus community. I know that our musicians are thrilled to be performing again in front of a live audience.

This afternoon, you will hear our Rensselaer Orchestra, Concert Choir, and Chamber Music Ensembles in a remarkably diverse program inspired by Hoagy Carmichael’s 1927 jazz standard “Stardust.” 

Since starlight comes to us from light-years away, it can be both a wistful reminder of the past gone by — and a representation of our most soaring aspirations for the future. 

You will hear wonderful music that captures both a longing for the past and dreams of the future, from across a wide arc of music history, with composers that range from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ysaÿe Barnwell and Jake Runestad. You will even hear — and this does not happen every day — a tuba solo by a remarkably talented first-year student named Elihu Conant-Haque.

A number of our student performers are single or dual majors in music. Several years ago, we added a Bachelor of Science in Music degree program because the accomplishments of our students as performers and composers was simply undeniable — and we believed that Rensselaer had an important role to play in preparing them for 21st century careers in music.

I thank Dean Mary Simoni of our School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, who is performing tonight. She has moved music to the fore of a Rensselaer education, including by spearheading our designation as an All-Steinway school. I thank Dr. Christopher Fisher-Lochhead and Ms. Tamara Dworetz, lecturers in our Department of the Arts, for assembling this wonderful program. And I thank Professor Michael Century, our undergraduate music program coordinator, for helping to direct the video for the livestream. 

When I was a child, my father always said to me, “Aim for the stars, so you can reach the treetops, and at least be sure to get off the ground.” In other words, if you do not aim high, you will not get anywhere.

Today, we will hear music that will transport us to the stars — and set the tone for a season of celebration.

I speak for all of us at Rensselaer in wishing you a happy and safe holiday season! Now, please, enjoy the concert.