Commencement 2011


The College of Fine Arts Graduation Convocation went very well as did the main Boston University Commencement on Nickerson Field the following day in which veteran TV broadcaster Katie Couric was the speaker, see text of Ms. Couric’s speech. We were very honored to have the noted painter, Frank Stella, give the address at the CFA Convocation. His address will appear in my next blog post.

Here are my introductory remarks to the Class of 2011.

On behalf of the faculty and administration, it is my honor to welcome you to the 2011 Graduation Convocation for the Boston University College of Fine Arts.

My name is Benjamín Juárez and I am dean of the College. Please be seated.

Today, we laid aside our brushes and books, our violins and scripts, to pause in celebration of the achievements of our students. I am delighted that you have joined us.

Soon, our graduates will join other College of Fine Arts alumni from around the world who not only make art, but defend and promote it. Graduates, I trust that you will demonstrate with your work, and with your voices, that the purpose of art is not merely to decorate society but to make a civilization worthy of our highest aspirations.

Art transcends. When politics fails to provide solutions, when science is appropriated for destructive purposes, when economics fails to serve the needs of all people, we must turn to art as it reminds us of what it is to be human. Without it, we are set adrift losing touch with ourselves and each other.

Therefore, you, the Class of 2011, are the heralds for our society of what is real and true — and you are needed now more than ever.

Multi-Media Concert Celebrates Puebla’s 480th Anniversary

BEJ-FIP550x240Last week, I had the honor of conducting at the Puebla Cathedral as part of the International Palafoxiano Festival in Puebla, Mexico.  The Festival celebrated the 480th anniversary of the founding of Puebla, a beautiful city with a rich arts tradition that is home to Mexico’s largest arts archive.

Puebla is a city that’s always been very dear to me, so I was particularly excited to participate in this important festival. Throughout my career I’ve conducted three or four major concerts at the Cathedral and have recorded ten CDs with music from the Cathedral’s archives, so it is a place that holds great joy for me as a musician.

As the Lamentations of Jeremiah was read,  images on three large screens depicted the challenges faced by modern-day Mexico including violence, drug abuse, and violence against women.  Even though the Hebrew Testament passage centers on the destruction of the Jewish Temple centuries ago, it was clear that it had much to say to us today.

As it was the start of Holy Week, the concert also included a musical interpretation of Tenebrae in which fifteen candles are gradually extinguished, leaving the church in total darkness.   A performance of two compositions written in the 18th and 19th centuries by Ignacio Jerusalem and Manuel Arenzana that had not been heard in 200 years were also performed, featuring mezzo soprano Carla Dirlikov and bass David Cushing.

Daniel Doña, a BU alumnus and current faculty member at CFA, was among the small group of Boston-based musicians that traveled to Puebla.  Doña eagerly describes his experience participating in the festival: “Performing works of Mexican Baroque composers in the shadow of the cathedral where these pieces were first heard was quite a thrilling experience. The interdisciplinary program that Dean Juárez created melding elements of theater, visual arts and music came off to great effect!” He continues, “The fact that the local musicians do not have many opportunities to collaborate with musicians from outside of Puebla, along with the great pride they exhibited in performing works of their home city, made our visit especially memorable. I sincerely hope that this is only the beginning of an ongoing relationship with these musicians and the festival.” (This paragraph from BU press release.)

Many dignitaries were present,  including the governor, bishop, and archbishop,  several university presidents and leading members of the military.  The local newspaper, El Sol de Puebla, featured the concert on the front page the next day.

Composer Daniel Catan Dies Suddenly at 62

Sad news — Daniel Catan was found dead this morning at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was teaching.

I spoke to him about working with us here at Boston University and he was looking forward to it.  He and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.

BU Presents Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” at Symphony Hall


Professor Ann Howard Jones Conducts at Symphony Hall, 2003. Photo by Vernon Doucette, BU Photo Services.

Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah, will bring together hundreds of School of Music instrumentalists and singers in Symphony Hall, in what is his most endearing and embracing work.  The prophet’s dramatic life story is  told through brilliant arias and vibrant choruses.

Tickets: $25 general admission. Student Rush are $10, available at the door, day of performance, 10am-6pm.

BU community: One free ticket with BU ID at the door, day of performance, 10am-6pm. Box Office: 617.266.1200.

Boston University Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Chorus


Felix Mendelssohn

Ann Howard Jones, Conductor

8:00 pm on Monday, April 11, 2011

Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue

The Fiddler and the Old Woman of Rumelia

Cy1gVnpwwDLeQ9Ibj3tSedLast week, I had the pleasure of seeing Professor Ketty Nez’s opera, The Fiddler and the Old Woman of Rumelia. It was a colorful production, with committed performances.  I predict a bright future for it.

Speaking of Professor Nez, she has an upcoming recital.

Professor Nez will participate in an upcoming faculty recital with Professor James Winn (Professor of English and Director,  BU Humanities Foundation) on Sunday, April 17, at 4:00 p.m. in the Marshall Room, College of Fine Arts, 855 Commonwealth Avenue, 2nd Floor.

Contemporary American music featuring the flute and piano.

Ketty Nez– composer/pianist

James Winn–flute

BU Music Professor Martin AmlinSonata No. 2 for Flute and Piano

BU Music Professor Ketty Nez – The Moon Passes Over

Walter Piston – Flute Sonata

Peter Westergaard – Divertimento on Discobbolic Fragments


I hope you will join us for this wonderful production.

The BU College of Fine Arts presents Charles Gounod’s opera Roméo et Juliette, running April 21-24 on the mainstage of the Boston University Theatre. The opera features conductor William Lumpkin, stage director Sharon Daniels, singers from the BU School of Music’s Opera Institute and vocal program, with the BU Chamber Orchestra. Production, costume, and lighting design are by students from the BU School of Theatre, assisted in build by Huntington Theatre Company staff. Jules Barbier and Michel Carré’s libretto will be sung in French, with English supertitles by Professor Allison Voth.

Tickets: $20 general public; $15 BU alumni, WGBH members, Huntington subscribers, students, and senior citizens; BU community: one free ticket with BU ID at the door, day of performance, subject to availability.

Composer Charles Gounod.  Public Domain.

Composer Charles Gounod. Public Domain.

Box Office: or 617.933.8600.

Boston University Theatre, Mainstage  (264 Huntington Avenue, Boston)
Getting There: T Green Line, E line, Symphony stop; T Orange Line, Mass Ave stop

Thursday, April 21, 7:30pm
Friday, April 22, 7:30pm
Saturday, April 23, 7:30pm
Sunday, April 24, 2:00pm

Content from March 31 press release.

The Launch of BU’s Arts Website


BU Schhol of Music musician. Photo: BU Photo Services.

With listings of every arts happening at BU and many beyond, the website, Arts Live, launches today.

Tonight — The Music of Tango with Osvaldo Golijov

Wikimedia Commons Image.  Public Domain.

Wikimedia Commons Image. Public Domain.

Please join us!

Composer Osvaldo Golijov in conversation with BU Professor Alicia Borinsky tonight at Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Avenue, 6:00 p.m.  FREE admission.

With a performance of Mr. Golijov’s Last Round by musicians from the BU School of Music.

Professor Jon Lipsky 1944-2011

“The quality of the man and the quality of the intellect and the quality of the talent are really something very special.” –Robert Brustein, Boston Globe 3/21/11

I am sorry to report that School of Theatre professor Jon Lipsky has died.  A funeral service was scheduled for today at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. Jon was surrounded by his family: Kanta, Adam, and Jonah. They and Jon are in our thoughts and prayers.

Students, faculty, and staff will remember Jon with extroardinary affection.

Professor Jon Lipsky

Professor Jon Lipsky. BU Photo Services.

Jon’s family and friends are planning a memorial service on the Vineyard later in spring.

Read Boston Globe obituary.

His work appeared at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival of New Plays, American Repertory Theatre, La Mama ETC., Berkshire Theatre Festival, Missouri Rep, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Theater Emory, Sugan Theatre, and other regional theatres. He was a director and Artistic Associate at the Vineyard Playhouse on Martha’s Vineyard, where he lived, and was playwright-in-residence at the Merrimack Rep, TheatreWorks/Boston, and Boston’s Museum of Science.

His work also included: Living In Exile—a retelling of the IliadThe Survivor: a Cambodian OdysseyDreaming with an AIDS PatientMaggie’s RiffMolly MaguireBeginner’s Luck; and an interconnected series of nine short plays called Book of Revelations. In 2007, he won the Boston Critic’s Eliot Norton Award for Best Direction in a small company. His award-winning collaboration with jazz musician Stan Strickland, Coming Up for Air: An Autojazzography, was presented at the Boston Center for the Arts in September and toured in 2009. As part of the School of Theatre’s New Play Initiative, Jon developed a musical adaptation of Jack London’s Call of the Wild, which toured with the Olney Theatre Center’s National Players in 2007–2008.

His play, Walking the Volcano was produced through a collaboration between the Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University and the Boston Center for American Performance, the professional extension of the BU School of Theatre.

Message from President Brown on Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

Boston University Office of the President

March 14, 2011

Dear Friends,

We have all been horrified by the extent of the devastation and loss of life caused by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last Friday. The thoughts and prayers of the Boston University community are with the students and staff who have families and friends in the afflicted region of Japan.

I write you to let you know that the members of the Boston University community in Japan are safe, including students in the study abroad programs in Kyoto and Tokyo, our employees at our liaison office in Tokyo, and faculty traveling in Japan.

Many people are very interested in how to support the victims of this terrible disaster. The website has been developed to list agencies that are actively supplying relief in Japan and to whom you can donate. I know the members of our community from Japan will appreciate your support during their hour of need.


Robert A. Brown