Arts and Culture at Yale University

September 23, 2013

Every once in a while, I have a couple of weeks where Yale’s amazingness (is that a word?) is revealed in all its glory. The last two weeks were one such time with respect to the arts on campus.

Two weeks ago on Monday, I attended the School of Music’s Convocation, at which Dean Robert Blocker welcomed the newest class by urging them to rediscover wonder. We were then amazed by the performances of five students: a violinist, three percussionists, and a pianist. And I also have to say that it is quite moving to sing – and try to harmonize – with 400 or so School of Music faculty and students, a Convocation tradition.

The day after that, on Tuesday, I had the honor of conferring the first Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes to nine amazing writers from around the world. Each one received an unrestricted grant of $150,000 to allow them to focus on their craft without financial worry, at least for a while. Following the award ceremony, Yale hosted a four-day festival to celebrate the prizewinners’ work. Yale students, faculty members, high school students, and the local community had the chance to interact with this supremely talented group of writers at master classes hosted by the Yale School of Drama, and at talks, readings, and residential college teas. The Windham-Campbell Prize celebration is destined to become a highly anticipated annual campus event.

As if that were not enough, this past Friday I attended a Yale Rep preview performance of  Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which more than lived up to the advance billing. The sets, the direction, and the amazing performances of School of Drama alumna René Augesen as Blanche, Joe Manganiello as Stanley, and the rest of the cast all confirmed that Yale has some of the best theater anywhere in the country.  

I am looking forward to what the next two weeks will bring!