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Nov. 3, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 5

Students relived a bit of their childhood with a game of kickball on the Campus Green, as part of the "Gym Class Series." [See "Old School" below]

Around Campus

Music that lives on

Gasson 100 was the setting last Sunday for a bit of musical history, with the performance of "Brundibar," a children's opera composed by Hans Krasa, a Czech Jew who perished at Auschwitz.

Presenting the opera were children aged five to 16 years old from the Dalcroze Center for Music and Movement, under the direction of the center's head, part-time faculty member Barbara Gawlick (Music), with assistance from her pianist husband, Ralf, who also teaches music at BC.

Based on a story by Czech playwright Adolf Hoffmeister, the plot of "Brundibar" is disarmingly simple: Two children set out to find food and drink for their sick mother, but their attempts to earn money by singing are thwarted by the arrogant street entertainer Brundibar; the siblings are befriended by animals and schoolchildren of the town, and together they scheme to overthrow Brundibar.

But the story behind "Brundibar" is compelling, the Gawlicks explain. Krasa composed the opera on the eve of Czechoslovakia's annexation by Nazi Germany and later was interned in the infamous Terezin ghetto near Prague. He continued to work on his composition, and arranged to have it performed at a Jewish orphanage in 1943 - Nazi propaganda films used footage of the production to depict their "humane" treatment of Jews - only months before he met his fate in Auschwitz.

"While it's true that 'Brundibar' really preceded World War Two, it's hard not to see some sociopolitical angles," said Ralf Gawlick, noting that one recent adaptation by Maurice Sendak gave Brundibar a distinctively Hitlerian appearance. "But that wasn't our angle. We wanted to present this first and foremost as a children's opera done by children, the way Krasa envisioned it."

Still, the history of "Brundibar" can't be ignored, the Gawlicks add, and to provide both a personal and historical perspective, they invited a special guest to speak after Sunday's performance: Edgar Krasa (no relation to the composer), a Boston-area resident who met Hans Krasa while they were prisoners at Auschwitz and witnessed productions of the opera at the infamous death camp.

During Edgar Krasa's hour-long talk, the Gawlicks' daughter Natasza, 11, helped provide one of the event's more memorable moments. "She asked him, 'Mr. Krasa, how does this performance compare with the ones you saw?'" said Ralf Gawlick. "He had tears in his eyes as he talked about how absolutely unbelievable this performance was, and how wonderful a job the children did - which was quite true.

"This was one of those examples that show how art is truly connected to life, how it helps us to think and to remember."

The event was held in connection with the McMullen Museum of Art exhibition, "The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and their Salons."

-SS

Urban Ecology Institute Program Director Maria Aucoin (left) talks with Jon Sege '09 about the institute's work under the gaze of a taxidermic grey fox during the Oct. 21 Harvest Fair on the Campus Green. The event included presentations and information on a variety of environmental issues. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Bridging the gap

On Nov. 14, undergraduates in the Boston College Presidential Scholars Program will put their musical talents to use for a good cause: raising money to send a group of BC students to help Gulf Coast residents affected by Hurricane Katrina.

All proceeds from the concert "Building a Bridge over Troubled Waters," to be held in Gasson 100 from 6-8 p.m., will benefit the BC service trip to Biloxi, Miss., which is planned for January.

The idea arose from discussions among a group of Presidential Scholars who met to discuss ways of responding to the devastation caused by Katrina, according to Presidential Scholars Program Assistant Director Jennie Thomas.

"Initially, we thought of raising funds to send to the Red Cross or some other relief organization, but knowing that we had current Presidential Scholars and program alumni who hailed from the Gulf Coast, the group thought doing something more tangible was important and so they decided upon a service trip.

"Meeting to organize the trip and brainstorm fundraising ideas the group decided to draw upon the wealth of musical talent in the program and hold a fundraising concert."

Among those scheduled to perform are freshmen Pilar Landon, Robbie Kubala, John Letizi and Nick Ackerman; sophomores Natalia Bauer and Sam Dolinger; and Patricia Noonan '07.

Tickets at the door are $12 for adults, $7 for students with valid BC ID. For more information, contact the Presidential Scholars Program at ext. 2-1360.

The Presidential Scholars Program each year enrolls 15 incoming freshmen, chosen on the basis of academic excellence, demonstrated leadership ability and significant community service involvement.

-SS

Playing host

Thanksgiving is still three weeks away, but members of the Boston College community can start making plans now - by volunteering to host an international student for America's signature holiday.

The University's popular Thanksgiving Day Host Program, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, invites administrators, faculty and staff to invite one or more international students for a Thanksgiving meal. No overnight stay is required.

Today is the official deadline for hosts to register, but Adrienne Nussbaum, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars - which oversees the program - said latecomers are more than welcome to sign up.

For more information, call ext.2-8005 or see www.bc.edu/ico.

-SS

Old school

Boston College undergraduates have found a new way to get their kicks on campus - and that's not a figure of speech.

On a late chilly October afternoon last week the Campus Green became the scene of a raucous kickball game reminiscent of an elementary school recess or gym class. While some students briefly paused to watch the spectacle before continuing on, others seized the opportunity to relive a game they hadn't played in a long time.

"I think a lot of people had a blast and we're excited about the turnout," said Ryan Brown '06, who helped organize the event, the first of what has been unofficially called the "Gym Class Series."

Sponsored by the Undergraduate Government of Boston College, "Gym Class" will take place every other Wednesday this fall and feature a different game every week, including capture the flag, wiffle ball and more.

The point of the series is simple: promote good, clean fun.

"We wanted to have some events on campus that were just informal, where people had a chance to get together after class and spend some time outdoors having a good time," says Sarah Williams '08, a UGBC representative.

As winter sets in, organizers plan to continue the series with snowball fights and snowman-building contests. In case of inclement weather, there will be board games at an indoor location.

Organizers hope the series' laid-back approach, and the chance to win prizes, will attract more participants and add to the enjoyment.

"We hope that people just chill out and have fun," says Brown. "It's a good way to build community on campus."

-SG

Fitting send-off

Last Friday, John Neuhauser marked his final official day as academic vice president and dean of faculties, and friends and colleagues made sure he had something special with which to remember his nearly six years as BC's top academic administrator.

Neuhauser was presented with a t-shirt bearing the small outline of a tree on the front, and on the back, along with a photo of Neuhauser, the inscription: "Thank you, Jack, for being our sturdy giving tree."

Yes, says Office of the AVP Executive Secretary Nancy Samya, that is a reference to the famous Shel Silverstein book. "The Giving Tree is one of Jack's favorites," she explained. "He's frequently given it as a gift.

"So it just seemed like an appropriate message to give him, in gratitude for the care and friendship he's shown over the years."

Neuhauser, who is succeeded by Cutberto Garza, MD, will rejoin the faculty of the Carroll School of Management, where he served as dean from 1977-99.

-SS

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