Humanities Moments

Humanities Moments

We’ve all had “humanities moments” — when our lives were made richer, more poignant, and meaningful because of the insights the humanities provide.

Browse Items (12 total)

by Yolande Frommer, 78, retired Travel Agent
Mstislav Rostropovich
It was our first real date. His blind date had backed out and I volunteered to hear Rostropovich’s debut in Washington to play the Dvořák. It was not only a memorable concert but a few years later I married my date. We had a wonderful marriage lasting almost 40 years until he passed away. This experience listening to the concerto was the real start of my love for classical music.

by Ben Wides, age 46, social studies teacher, East Side Community High School, New York City
William Millan
In June 2017, I found myself in a cramped, sweltering apartment in New York’s East Village. I was there with three high-school students to interview William Millan, founder of the seminal 1970s Latin band, Saoco. The students were working on a documentary film about the history of musical communities in New York City. After playing several Saoco albums for us, William described how his interest in the roots of Latin music led him on an intellectual journey to understand the cultural history of the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. Then he…

by Odera Tait
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It's not often that we interact with people that have disabilities. When I was in elementary school my mother worked in homecare and took care of a young girl. She was the same age as me but she didn't have the ability to communicate, walk, or even feed herself on her own. I would often frequent her house after school and I remember the first time I had met her. I was very awkward. I didn't know what to do with someone so different from me. Over time I became more comfortable around her. We would watch TV and play around. There was one day in…

by Weaver Academy student
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When I was a sophomore in high school, I had the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York with my high school choir. We had been invited to perform a solo set of three songs under the conduction of our teacher. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I experienced helped me to explore my relationship with music by perceiving the strong emotional connections of my fellow choir members. As I performed and saw how moved my classmates were, it made my experience more touching and memorable. I also was reminded of the hard work that was…

by Alex Blake and the Staff at North Carolina Governor’s School West
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A memorable humanities moment for me was when I was singing an arrangement of "Deep River" at North Carolina Governor’s School West. Our director, Alex Blake, had arranged the piece and we were performing it in front of our peers and parents at our last concert. In that moment I remember feeling really connected to the music and feeling the historical significance of the piece. Alex had shared with us the reason he had arranged the piece and the significance it held in his heart and how he hoped that the choir would give it our all. When I…

by The students of Weaver Academy and the students of Gateway Education Center
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Every year my school allows it's students to participate in an arts fair called Gateway. The students get to share their arts with disabled children or children who are less capable of performing the same actions we are able to perform every day. My first year going was a little nerve racking, but when in the element I was able to truly appreciate and understand the true meaning of why we go. Seeing children whose faces were elated at the sound of a note or seeing them jump around to a favorite tune I was playing seriously made me consider so…

by Blake Wilson, Dickinson College
Franchino Gaffurio, "De Harmonia Musicorum" (1518)
According to the ancient Greeks, harmony is discord rendered concordant, a concept that applied not just to music but everything from the order of the cosmos to human relationships. I have always loved this idea for two reasons: it was predicated not on the absence or erasure of difference, but the reconciliation of it; and it was perfectly embodied in the activity that had occupied a significant part of my career as a college music professor and conductor—choral singing. Upon my retirement, alumni of my choral group from across the decades…

by Averill Corkin, Graduate Student, Harvard University
Averill Corkin
Averill Corkin shares how a video shown in class of a performance of a song about a distraught female refugee singing about loss, fear and whether God exists inspired her to major in the humanities.

by Robert D. Newman, President and Director, National Humanities Center
from "The New York Times Magazine," June 25, 2013
In this video clip, Robert D. Newman shares how his friend Brooke Hopkins found meaning for his life after a tragic accident through his love of literature and teaching.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, "The Message"
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, a hip-hop group from the South Bronx in New York City, released a single on Sugar Hill Records in 1982 titled “The Message.”

by Robert H Jackson Center
Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial, 1939
Denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color, Marian Anderson was permitted to perform at the Lincoln Memorial by Harold Ickes at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt.

by David Denby, author, journalist, film critic
Herbert von Karajan
David Denby discusses hearing Herbert von Karajan conducting a performance of Mahler’s 9th Symphony.
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