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Concert attendance disappoints

| Tuesday, September 27, 2005

At the concert Thursday evening featuring legendary pianist Leon Fleisher with the University symphony and choirs, the Leighton Concert Hall was only half full. This was particularly surprising for us musicians, since we were informed that every seat was reserved for a University official or visiting inaugural guest who had committed to coming. Why was Notre Dame unable to greet this world-renowned artist with a full house (in an only moderately-sized concert hall)? Why weren’t students invited to this unique event or any of the other simultaneous art events celebrating the inauguration? (This point is especially pressing, since half the seats were empty.) Why did many of the concertgoers leave the performance at intermission? These questions are fresh in the minds of the musicians who dedicated so many extra hours of rehearsal to the concert. It was disheartening for all of us to expect a full house and find instead half of an audience straggling in ten and fifteen minutes after the performance was scheduled to commence.

The purpose of this letter is not to assign blame, but to provide an impetus for a campus discussion of the role of the arts at Notre Dame. We are truly blessed as students to have such an extraordinary performing arts center with an equally extraordinary concert schedule. We cannot thank enough those responsible for building and maintaining the program. But have we been found worthy of these blessings? DPAC Director John Haynes has inspired us with his vision of a “culture of the arts” on campus – but we are far from this goal. The Thursday concert witnesses the fact that University officials and professors need to work as hard as the students in building this culture. It is a task that must be accomplished together; holding special invitation concerts to celebrate the arts at Notre Dame simply does not make sense. With the new performing arts center, we have the material and the occasion for art to take place. Now Notre Dame needs only the will to make it happen.

Mark Thomas Josephrepresenting University choir membersseniorSorin HallSept. 25