Connected Though Music concert promotes unity as part of Founders Week

The Connected Through Music concert showcased music from many cultures
The Connected Through Music concert showcased music from many cultures


Krystina Primack | staff writer

We take pride in the familiar story — more than three centuries ago in France, the Spiritans began as a group of Catholic missionaries that chose to forgo aspirations of prestige in favor of ministering to the poor and disadvantaged. Later, here in the U.S. in 1878, the Spiritans and Rev. Joseph Strub of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit founded Pittsburgh Catholic College, which, of course, was officially renamed Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit in 1911.

Since its earliest days, our school has thrived upon the Spiritan ideals of service to the Catholic Church, the community, the nation and the world. Theirs is a ministry that aims to promote a sense of selflessness that continues today. Therefore, each year in late-January/early-February, Duquesne University hosts Founders Week, a series of events in a university-wide celebration to honor our Spiritan roots. This week serves as a time to highlight the Spiritan origins and integral contributions to our institution, as well as their vision, values and legacy.

This year, the Founders Week theme has been Companions on the Journey.

As the official event summary states: “Walking with one another is a concept that is deeply rooted in the Spiritan tradition…We are called by our Catholic Spiritan Heritage to walk not as individuals, but as a community rooted in love, patience, and trust…We are called to be companions to one another on the journey.”

Other Founders Week events have included A Journey In My Shoes: Sacred Conversations on Race, Interview with a Spiritan Lunch Edition and Feast of Feast Days Give Away. A complete list of remaining events, times and locations can be found online by searching “Duquesne Founders Day 2019,” and are posted on bulletin boards across campus. RSVP is required for some events.

One way that campus communities and the Spiritans have celebrated the Founders Day theme thus far has been through the unifying power of music. They did so on Jan. 28 with a world-music concert entitled Connected Through Music. Presented by Dr. Joseph Sheehan of the Mary Pappert School of Music, this concert featured instrumental pieces and vocal ensembles to represent China, Colombia, Brazil, Benin, Ghana and Argentina.

In keeping with the theme of companionship, each musical piece was chosen not only to illustrate the diversity that Duquesne values as an institution, but to share music from different cultures and different places around the world with the audience.

“I just tried to choose repertory that I thought was interesting to play and that represented a wide variety of countries and cultures. And I also asked a couple of graduate students, and two of them that got back to me were from Colombia so that’s why we did a piece from Colombia,” Sheehan said of the decision-making process that went into building Monday evening’s program.

Beginning the concert by representing China, special guest performer Yang Jin played the traditional Chinese song “The River on a Spring Night” on the pipa, a four-stringed instrument similar to the lute. Jin also played “Spring in the Tianshan Mountain” and “Theme from Schindler’s List,” alongside Samuel Boateng and Joseph Sheehan on percussion and piano, respectively.

Graduate students Maria Hincapie Duque, flutist, and Harold Gómez, clarinetist, played a lively song entitled “Jorge Humberto (Pasillo)” to represent Colombia.

Representing Brazil and Benin together, guitarist Anthony Ambroso, bassist Jason Rafalak, percussionist Peter Roduta and Sheehan on piano played “Retrato Em Branco E Preto,” which translates to “Black and White Portrait.” The group also played “Benny’s Tune.”

Later, to represent Ghana, vocalist Maya Brown and pianist Samuel Boateng joined the group with their renditions of “Anoda Day” and “Nana Ere Ba,” songs reminding the audience to live life to the fullest. Additionally, this ensemble played Boateng’s own “The Movement So,” another lovely song set to the melody of “The Way You Look Tonight.”

For the finale, the musicians gathered to represent Argentina with the song “Libertango.” This song choice closed out the evening with a note of joy, something to leave the audience with the positive sentiments of togetherness that are such foundational aspects to the Founders Week theme of Companions on the Journey.

This year’s Connected Through Music concert served as an excellent occasion to promote unity and diversity, as well as to exemplify the rises and falls of life’s journeys. As the Rev. Raymond French observed at the event’s introduction, music provides a way to connect us all, through the good times and the bad. As such, the Founders Week concert reminds us of the Spiritan legacy of working together for the common good.