The music was proud, bold, and joyous; indeed, so was the president.
Marking the final months of the Simmons presidency, the Brown University Orchestra and Chorus, together with the Providence College Cantori and Festival Chorus, celebrated Ruth J. Simmons with a tribute concert Saturday evening, March 3. 2012, sponsored by the Department of Music at Brown. In front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 1,900 people, the orchestra and choruses — mostly undergraduates - performed Beethoven’s ninth symphony. The concert is believed to be the first time that Brown students have performed the well known, challenging piece.
“This is music of ideas and ideals, capable of lifting up and transforming human kind. And we aim to do that for you, tonight,” said James Baker, music department chair, introducing the concert.
Preceding the music, several members of the Brown and Rhode Island community offered remarks, praising Simmons’s leadership and vision, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and undergraduate music concentrator Katie Cohen. Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company, called Simmons an artist for her ability to see things not as they are, but as they might be.
“Your vision for what Brown and Providence could be profoundly changed this place to make it a better place to seek the divine, a better environment for artists and thinkers and seekers,” said Columbus, who also heads the Brown University/Trinity Rep M.F.A. programs in acting and directing.
The concert opened with Giuseppe Verdi’s “Overture to La forza del destino” — the force of destiny, the same overture the orchestra played to begin Simmon’s inauguration 11 years ago.
“Ruth, it must have indeed been destiny that you came to Brown,” Baker said. “Tonight, we celebrate your accomplishments and thank you for all you’ve done for the University and community. This one’s for you.”