JEFFREY T. PAINE
Arts & Life
In a private lecture for members of the performance music choir Friday, composer and conductor Robert Kapilow spoke about the difference between helping people and serving people, as well as the pieces that changed his outlook on his work.
Kapilow’s speech focused on several personal anecdotes about symphonies he composed and how they impacted his life and the lives of those with whom he has worked.
Kapilow has a well-established career in music and conducting, having conducted for the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Hagen Symphony as well as over 300 performances of the Tony Award-winning musical “Nine.” He was also music director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and has also written a book, “All You Have to Do is Listen: Music from the Inside Out.”
The talk began with an article by author Rachel Remen, who writes about the difference between helping or fixing people and serving people.
“When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole,” Remen writes.
This concept of helping and serving was central to Kapilow’s talk. Helping is not a relationship between equals, but serving is.
Kapilow engaged the audience during the talk, asking for what it thought and what it took away from the article. He then related several personal anecdotes, starting with his job as a music teacher at Yale and his experience conducting a Broadway musical. He then talked about his NPR program, “What Makes It Great?” which discussed music and how it achieves its emotional effects.
The last part of Kapilow’s talk was focused on his Citypieces, which were musical compositions made by collaborating with the city community. The first Citypiece was done in Kansas City, then Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Kapilow’s lecture neatly tied in each anecdote to his central theme of serving instead of helping.
Kapilow ended his talk with a quote by Joseph Campbell: “You must let go of the life you have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for you.”
Overall, Kapilow’s lecture was engaging, emotional and very motivating. Several students agreed, saying that Kapilow was a very sincere speaker and that he kept the talk focused. Kapilow’s talk on serving greatly affected many students, and I doubt that anyone left feeling dissatisfied.