Alumni Column: Roll Over Beethoven, Bring on the Artsy Raiders

Robert B. Raiber, DDS

It is true. Jim Morrison and The Doors performed at Reid Athletic Center in the late sixties. I sat, mesmerized, in the tenth row, three hours after sitting with the band at dinner at the Inn (more about that later). Today’s Colgate students would not be surprised to learn that concert was sold out, but they might not know that the day before modern composer John Gage and Merce Cunningham also sold out. And, the week before that, the Colgate Orchestra filled the chapel in a concert that included Beethoven’s First Symphony. Ask any graduate of that era which CORE course they most enjoyed and chances are they will say CORE 21. Students referred it to as the “cocktail conversation” core course as we were required to be articulate in both music and art. The final exam was an oral in which the student was shown some slides of art and music of the same period. While one didn’t have to precisely identify the artist or composer, an intelligent discussion of the art and music was expected. The course was taught by teams of profs from several departments. Each week we became familiar with classical composers from Bach, Beethoven and Brahms to Stravinsky and Carl Orff. In the same semester as the Doors concert, our orchestra and theater group staged an amazing multi-media performance of the Carl Orff opera, The Wise Woman, under the direction of Professor Skelton. It was originally meant to satirize Hitler, but the target at the time was President Lyndon Johnson. Several days’ performances were completely sold out.

Of course, Hockey games at Starr Rink and home football games were also packed. As a former Varsity athlete of one of the “other” teams at Colgate, I am a big fan of the Rowdy Raider program. I think it is great way to support athletics and I wish someone had thought of it years ago. But in the absence of CORE 21, I wonder if students support the arts as they do athletics. After all, it is part of a liberal arts education.

In a few weeks, I read on the February schedule, there will be what should be an amazing concert on Valentine’s Day at 3:30PM in the Chapel. The pianist Gleb Ivanov, winner of the Young Concert Artists International Audition will be performing pieces by Schubert, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. What could be more romantic for Valentines Day! My guess is that there might be some Colgate students who have never attended a classical music concert in the Chapel and my advice to them is to try it. Or try one of the other concerts or art exhibits on campus at another date.

My daughter ‘02 once asked if there was anything I wished I had done while at school and my answer was I wished I had taken more Philosophy courses and golf lessons at 7 Oaks. If you have not taken in the wonderful arts courses, concerts and exhibitions, you still have time.

And one of my great moments in the Inn was listening to Jim Morrison telling his band mates stories about his growing up as a “Navy brat” all over the world. His father was an Admiral. I recall him saying something to the effect that his upbringing taught him to drink like a sailor. A few hours later, the warm up band of Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys were on stage.

When the Doors were introduced, they began their amazing concert with a “cover” of Linda’s “You and I travel to the beat of a different drum” before going through their repertoire including “Light My Fire”, which was at the top of the charts at the time. The wonderful thing about the Colgate experience is the chance to explore the beat of a different drum!