Jeffrey Mumford
Assistant Professor of Composition

Emeritus Professor of Musicology Sylvan Suskin's final lecture last May was as picture-perfect a call to and for civilization as I have ever heard. Among his observations, which I share:

Isaac Stern's definition of music: "Music is the speaking voice of the best part of human nature."

And Mendelssohn observed that for him, music "fills the soul with a thousand things better than words."

Who can argue?

Art with a capital "A" and love are all we have left to whatever is left of our humanity.

I want my work to touch people and transform them.

I believe that now I must redouble my commitment to my work and (I hope) inspire others (students, whomever) to reach deeply into their souls and do their best work.

I have so much to say and I now feel even more urgency to say it. I definitely feel now that time is of the essence; this feeling is one the likes of which I have not felt before.

Conrad Jeffrey Mumford is from Washington, D.C. His family lives 40 minutes away from the Pentagon.



Tony Arnold '90

I think it is important to remember that, whether in good times or bad, the function of art remains constant. What it means to be a musician today is no different than what it meant four months ago or four decades ago.

Music, like all art, serves as a mirror to humanity. Its purpose is to ask the questions, not answer them. Every insight gained proposes yet another avenue of inquiry.

In difficult passages, we feel pushed against the limits of our literal minds. Music can then be an expansion into the conceptual realm for some, or a buffer or anesthesia for others. In any case, all art has its limits ­ it cannot serve as a substitute for spiritual clarity. However, art can be a vehicle that draws us closer to such clarity. In this light, every artistic endeavor is worthwhile, in any moment, not just the poignant ones.

Artistic activity is of most importance during the mundane times, when nobody in particular is looking or listening.

Antonio Pompa-Baldi
Visiting Assistant Professor of Piano

My English doesn't really allow me to say everything I feel and think about the role of music in our lives, especially in dark moments like this. All I know is that music is fundamental in helping all human beings to believe once again in life, love, and joy after such tragic events like the ones that occurred on September 11, which make them doubt these feel- ings will ever exist or be the same as before. Music does this, not just because it helps distract the mind from the terrible thoughts that evil acts generate. Music helps, in these circumstances and along with all arts, because it is synonymous with creation, and with life, which is the opposite of destruction and death. I think this is a good reason to consider music, and our effort to offer music to the others, fundamental.

Antonio Pompa-Baldi is from Foggia, Italy. He performed Chopin's Scherzo no. 1 in B minor at "A Gathering for Reflection: Words and Music." Read more about his recent accomplishments here.

Wendy Richman '01

Whether putting my thoughts into writing, raising my hand in class, explaining a concept, offering an opinion, or arguing a point, I'm seldom a person who is at a loss for words. But September 11 left me speechless, as it did many of us. I was surprised by my absolute inability to process any coherent thought on the matter for several weeks ­ I still have trouble sufficiently articulating how I felt that day.

To me, music is a medium through which I communicate everything I can and cannot express through words: physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Obviously, each musician's balance of these factors is unique. I think we all share, however, a need to create a product that transcends all the boundaries of speech. Even music that uses text (and those who perform it) is crafted to highlight the text through music.

What does music give us when language fails us? It's almost paradoxical. I think most musicians and lovers of music would agree: listen, and you'll know.


Violist Wendy Richman performed Elliott Carter's "Elegy" at "A Tribute Without Words," on November 8 at a musical response to the events of September 11 held in Finney Chapel. (See "A Tribute Without Words, Answered With Silence" on page 4.) She presented the world premiere of Jeffrey Mumford's "wending" three days later at a solo recital at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. II


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