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Alumni Council Welcome

Welcome to the Class of 2013


Daniel Matsukawa (’92), bassoon faculty and Alumni Council representative

When I was asked to say a few words today, I thought to myself, oh wow, I would much rather play the Rite of Spring, and it is much more nerve racking to stand here and speak to all of you. But then I thought it is really a great honor and a privilege to welcome the graduating class of 2013 into the world, as you will no longer be students here in a few moments. Don't worry, my words here will only take a couple of minutes.

I graduated 21 years ago and now as a fellow alum, I could stand here and say it is about giving back, and giving back in a way whether it is monetary or spreading what you have gained here at Curtis. And that it is about being involved. But to me that is a given.

Curtis has always been about inspiration. To be here is to inspire. To be here is to be inspired. Teaching perhaps is not just teaching… could teach anyone how to finger an F# on any instrument….but it is more about inspiring. Perhaps anyone can open up a checkbook which is very kind indeed….but Mr. Lenfest inspires us with his grace, generosity and involvement. Mr. Diaz inspires us with his leadership, vision, and heart. Any conductor can learn how to beat time, but Sir Rattle inspires us with his musical soul. Dr. McGinn inspires us by simply putting together mere words. Dr. Ludwig inspires us with the creation of mere notes put together. And without offending all the other faculty and staff members, please know that I could go on and on and everyone at Curtis has inspired me and continue to inspire me and I think all of us.

Class of 2013, you are extraordinary people and you will do extraordinary things. And I know it is innate in all of you otherwise you would not be sitting here today. I used to say this as my own sort of philosophy: If you practice all the time and master your instrument then call yourself a great instrumentalist…a great pianist, a great violinist, a great bassoonist, a great cellist. And if you learn how to phrase musically, and understand the musical structure and grammar of music and so forth, you call yourself a musician. But until that person out there listening gets some kind of goose bumps one way or the other, through joy or sorrow or what have you, then don't call yourself an artist. 

But, my friends, I'm going to one up that….you are all artists, and it is a must that you do and continue to do wonderful things with your gifts, talents and abilities and you have the power to move and touch people. Please never just be idle. Please never go on automatic pilot. It is your job to go out there and convey this beautiful tradition. You have been trained to walk out on stage and perform but really it is so much bigger than that. You also have a responsibility when you walk out these doors to think of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and their grandchildren. In this day and age where our art is struggling against so many modern changes in the world like high speed internet and multitasking and perhaps even becoming an endangered species, it is important that we carry on the traditions and take on what we have learn, express it to the world, and make sure we continue it. And believe in what we do and take it to the next generation.

Lastly, some of you may have heard me say this before…and it is similar to and along the lines of being free and staying curious….and that is, "Students for life". This is only the beginning, the beginning of your journey.

I continue to learn things every day. I learn from my own children. I learn from my students. I learn from my colleagues. Every week I go to work to grow as an artist, and for example every time Sir Simon [Rattle] comes to Philadelphia, the orchestra learns things we did not know or think of before.

I learn something new from people I meet every day. We are all students for life. We will never get to learn or even listen to all the music that was ever written. We will never get to read all the books we want to read in our lifetime. And we may not get to see all the wonders of the world, man-made or not man-made, or even just the things we hope to see. And whether we are eight, eighteen, or 88, we must be students for life. The learning never ends, and it never stops. It is important to pay it forward, the things I have learned, as a teacher, as a colleague, as an alum.

Yes, graduating class, you can now call me Danny and you can use bad words you didn't use before….um you are allowed to. No more of this professor or Mr. Matsukawa stuff….we are now colleagues!

Thank you for listening, and my heartfelt congratulations!