Music is always a powerful element of Convocation at Teachers College, but in this year’s edition, both conceptually and literally, it went where it’s never gone before.
The virtual ceremony opened with a gentle, Latin-infused version of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance,” adapted by composer Gabriel Judet-Weinshel.
There were subsequent performances of:
“For Good,” the classic duet from the musical “Wicked,” sung by Jeanne Goffi-Fynn, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Music & Music Education, and doctoral student Ereni Sevasti, on West 125th Street and 12th Avenue, under the elevated subway tracks.
“Somewhere (There’s a Place for Us)”, from the musical “West Side Story,” sung by Colette Young (Ed.D. ’21) under vaulted ceilings near the entrance to the Gottesman Libraries.
“Neverland,” by the Polish composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, performed on the steps of TC’s main entrance by Anastasia Pike, Instructor of Music; Kirsten Shippert Brown, Ed.D. ’21; and Lindsay Elizabeth Blackhurt, Ed.D. ’21).
“Sir Duke,” by Stevie Wonder, performed (on the deck of a retired U.S. Navy vessel docked at the Hudson River) by vocalist Darryl Jordan (Ed.D. ’21, Applied Lessons Instructor and Assistant Adjunct Professor) saxophonist and band leader Drew X. Coles (Ed.D. ’19), pianist Anna Laura Freedman, master’s degree student and Assistant Director, Singers Workshops; and drummer Philippe Lemm, Instructor for Drums and Percussion).
And, of course, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” performed, flash mob-style, in Russell Courtyard (and via home recording) by more than 50 musicians from TC and the Manhattan School of Music.
But Convocation 2021, produced by Trish McNicholas, Executive Director of College Events and Internal Communications, and her team, delivered high production value on other fronts as well.
There was the explosion of virtual fireworks as the figurative curtain went up on the opening shot of Teachers College’s campus and a narrator’s voice welcomed viewers to Convocation.
There were the greetings to graduates from TC’s 10 department chairs, whose faces appeared on faux laptop screens on the desks in the Dawn and Ric Duques Theater on the first floor of Horace Mann Hall.
There were the greetings from a score of other faculty members, whose faces appeared in the windows of an illustrated arriving subway train reminiscent of the old credits from “Saturday Night Live.”
And there were other deft touches throughout, including edgy visuals added by a graphic recording artist to give speeches added color.
Without question, everyone is hoping that Convocation 2022 will take place live, with graduates, families and friends all in attendance. But like many other staples of our lives – including education itself – Convocations may look a little different going forward. And as this year’s ceremony demonstrated, that may be a reason to celebrate.