Thank you for the extensive piece on the Northrop reopening [Spring 2014]. Its iconic structure has supported a legacy and cultural impact that is far broader than most of us can realize or quantify. I was particularly interested in your descriptive inclusion of improvements to the acoustic character of the auditorium. During the residency of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (Minnesota Orchestra) at Northrop, conductor Antal Doráti is said to have stated that the only thing that could improve Northrop’s acoustics was dynamite. It appears that the redesign has aggressively addressed Dorati’s disappointment. As for me, it is the library and Arts Quarter events that have continued to draw me to the University campus this past year. My view of the University has always embraced a vision of study including the performing arts. For this reason, I am particularly excited about the revitalization and preservation of the historic Northrop. Ski-U-Mah!
Richard Hahn (M.A. ’79) Forest Lake, MN
Congratulations to the U for Northrop’s restoration and for your article. As a grade-schooler in the ’30s I remember Northrop filled to the brim with pupils from all over Minneapolis and St. Paul in awe of Dmitri Metropolous conducting the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra without score or baton. He encouraged these youth concerts. He was our Dionysian god, conducting with his whole body. Much later, when I was in graduate school, came Arnold J. Toynbee with his panoramic view of history. And Frank Lloyd Wright. Before his lecture, Wright looked around with ill-disguised contempt. Everyone knowingly laughed. T.S. Eliot was relegated to Williams Arena, where, as he said, he had assembled the largest audience ever to hear a lecture on literary criticism.
D. Stanley Moore (M.A. ’56) Park Forest, Illinois
It was wonderful to learn about the new Northrop. As a student leader, I met Martin Luther King Jr. there before he lectured. I had the amazing good luck to subscribe to the Minneapolis symphony at a student rate of $1 per concert in the highest rafters of the auditorium. That experience, together with a wonderful freshman class on classical music, created a lifelong passion that has led me into great music halls across the world and to always do my writing in a world illuminated by great music.
Gary Orfield (B.A. ’63) Los Angeles
Northrop has been part of my life since my 4th birthday when my father, Ralph Berdie, took me to my first ballet. From that time on through the ’60s I saw every ballet that was performed at Northrop. I danced with the Andahazy Ballet Borealis several seasons. My first live opera was The Gypsy Baron and I still remember the squealing piglet. A highlight for many years was the arrival of the Metropolitan Opera. I also remember my graduation in 1966. It was a rainy day, so the ceremony took place in Northrop. My father sat onstage as a member of the faculty. I received my B.S. in elementary education. I look forward to many more years of exciting events at Northrop!
Phyllis Porter (B.A. ’66) Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Your article on Northrop was nostalgic for me. As a freshman I walked past Northrop every day to class from Sanford Hall for women. My fiancé had the only photograph (back alleys of Innsbruck, Austria) in a student art show there. When the Metropolitan Opera came for a week in May, we attended. The first two rows were the cheap seats; later we sat in the top balcony. On December 21, 1950, we graduated from that stage. I was employed at Murphy Hall in journalism research, and that December, carrying the School of Liberal Arts banner and wearing a floppy gold satin beret, I led the class on stage there. For years we held Artist Course tickets and attended events at Northrop until the 240-mile drive and overnight stay became too much. I am now a second-time widow and in my 80’s, so although I travel a lot, I may not get to see the new Northrop. But it will give others happy memories.
Elizabeth Boughton Hanson (B.A. ’50) Bemidji, Minnesota
Sports Are Important
A letter writer writes that sports on college campuses are meaningless and should be dropped [Spring 2014]. I disagree. Varsity sports have been played at the vast majority of colleges for well over a hundred years. Programs include those at the academically highest-ranking schools such as Northwestern and Michigan in the Big Ten and Stanford and Duke on the coasts. I propose that if the University of Minnesota wishes to make a statement by dropping varsity athletics, it be done by first polling students, staff, and all alumni. Then, if that is the wish of the majority, the decision will have the authority of representing most of the Gopher nation.
James Riehle (B.S. ’66) Hayden Lake, Idaho