Wednesday, February 1, 2012

If One Is Good...

...two are better. Right? Depends, but in this case, better for musicians.

The UCLA Medical School graduation ceremony for years has utilized brass music. It's perfect for outdoors, where the rites are held, and can be stylistically diverse, upping the entertainment value. At first they hired one quintet, but the promoter complained about the time between numbers, and the players' "phbllllth" sound, buzzing and flapping their lips to try to get some blood back before the next tune. He asked if it was necessary (yes) and what could be done about it. Chris, the leader, being the wily businessman he is, immediately said, "Hire two quintets." They did, in subsequent years, and five more musicians had an extra job each year.

The groups alternate, segue-style, leaving no down time between numbers, and plenty of time for one group to "rest their chops" while the other group performs. There's 30 minutes of "atmosphere" music consisting of classics, pop, and some light jazz, leading up to the start of the ceremony. Then a fanfare kicks off the start of the event, the speakers and the reading of names of the graduates, and the band takes a break for an hour or so. Then it's back to play a little exit music.

The highlight of the afternoon, for me, follows the announcement, "As you go forth, let us listen to the diverse voices of the class of Two Thousand and Eleven, as they bless us with the rainbow of languages represented in this outstanding class and medical school. Each physician graduate will say the same phrase in a different language. Listen to the different languages united in one common mission."

Each graduate representing a different culture steps to the podium in turn and recites the phrase in his or her native tongue. (The first graduate steps up and announces, "English,"to gales of laughter.) The phrase, "May we leave here to cure when possible, to care always," is then spoken in Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and a great many others. It's inspiring, and we would hope they never forget that beginning of a career and life of service.

1 comment:

M. L. Benedict said...

Great post, my brother.