By Alexis Schulz
Westminster Choir College welcomed staff and students back to campus at its convocation on Sept. 2 in the Marion Buckelew Cullen Center.
President Mordechai Rozanski, Dean and Director of Westminster Robert L. Annis and Provost DonnaJean Fredeen encouraged students to be passionate about what they will be learning this upcoming year.
“There are many sources for inspiration right here on campus,” said Fredeen. “I have learned so much from the students I have talked to, and we have great expectations of you.”
The event began with a piece called “Pictures at an Exhibition” performed by Phyillis Lehrer and Ingrid Clarfield, professors of piano. Then, a hymn called “Praise the Lord, the Almighty” was played by J. J. Penna, associate professor of piano, and James Jordan, professor of conducting.
The event also included the world premiere of a work by Ronald Hemmel, professor of music composition, history and theory, and a performance by faculty member William Hobbs, assistant professor of sacred music. All students and staff joined their voices together to celebrate the event in several different choral selections.
Convocation at Westminster is usually held at the Hillman Performance Hall, but President Rosanski said holding the event at the newly built Cullen Center was a great way to start the year.
“This semester is the start of a new chapter, and there are many great things to come,” said Rosanski.
Rosanski said that the Cullen Center was just the first of many new things to come on campus. The fundraising campaign to renovate the Playhouse is coming to an end and the university is eager to start construction.
“I am happy to announce that the Playhouse will be called the Robert L. Annis Playhouse when completed,” said Rosanski.
Annis welcomed students to the new semester by showing videos on the history of Westminster, and by reminding students and staff of the significance of each building on campus. He also announced that the new Cullen Center is now LEED certified, meaning it is environmentally sustainable.
Students also watched a time lapse video of the construction of the Cullen Center. The building that many called the “ghost building” took form in front of their eyes and many were amazed at the transformation.
“President Rosanski and I take great pride in knowing that the Cullen Center is environmentally certified and that the technology in the building is revolutionary,” said Annis.
After Annis spoke, students and faculty sang a piece called “Al Shlosha S’varim” which was played by Penna and Amanda Quist, assistant professor of conducting.
Convocation ended with a choral rendition of the Lutkin “Benediction,” which most of those in attendance sung from memory. It was the first song to be sung when Westminster first opened its doors in 1926.
Joshua Palagyi, sophomore vocal performance major said convocation made him enthusiastic about the upcoming semester.
“This was so interesting, I came back to campus to a brand new building,” Palagyi said. “I am so excited to start this semester and have classes in the Cullen Center.”
This semester will be the last for Annis as he will be retiring on Dec. 31. He said he holds Westminster close to his heart and looks back on the 20 years he spent here with great admiration.
“I take with me cherished moments that will never be replaced,” said Annis.