Never a Dull Moment

Some semesters slip by smoothly. For reasons unknown, others are frantic with activity. Spring 2004 was such a one, with an unusual number of speakers, projects, conferences, workshops, events, dinners, and award ceremonies.

• Laurie Halse Anderson, a writer of children’s books, including Speak, frequently used in middle school classes, was one of several speakers about the writing profession. They were hosted by Paul Acampora, director of development and a published writer of short stories, who volunteered to teach a section of the freshman writing course this year. Anderson’s daughter Stephanie just finished her freshman year at Moravian.

• To no one’s surprise, a concert April 4 by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis was sold out months ahead of time and played to perfection. But he really brought down the house the morning after, when he gave a master class for student jazz ensembles. Emphasizing eye as well as ear contact between players, he coached them into tighter performances and more intricate improvisations. For Nancy Clark, assistant dean for music, his concert was particularly poignant. Marsalis asked Nancy’s father, jazz pianist Sheldon Clark, to join him onstage during the pre-concert sound check, and they played “For My Nancy,” written by her father just after he came home from seeing his new daughter in the hospital. “That explains why I was so calm during the performance,” Nancy said later. “I had a chance to react before all eyes were on me.”

• Geometry. That’s about planes and angles and proofs that end in Q.E.D., right? Gordon Williams, assistant professor of mathematics, thinks it should be fun, too. So he brought George Hart, professor of computer science at the University of Stony Brook, to give students a hands-on look at his computer-designed geometric sculpture by having them assemble one. Hart’s sculptures involve mathematical objects such as regular and uniform polyhedra (surfaces made up of many polygons). For fun, he makes the polygons from materials and shapes that relate to the sculpture’s overall setting: for instance, books, carved from beautifully grained woods, are the facets of a decorative chandelier made for a public library. At Moravian, he brought stick people carved from plyboard and had the students link them into a polyhedron that might have been called “We Are the World.”

Nancy Clark, left, assistant dean for music, and Sharon Brown, right, director of institutional diversity and multicultural affairs, greet Wynton Marsalis at the reception after his April 4 concert.

Photo: Michael P. Wilson

George Hart shows Angela Palumbo, Robert Koepplinger, Brian Hopkins, and Ekow Bedu-Amissah how to assemble one of his geometric sculptures.

Photos: Gordon Williams