APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – COVID-19 got in the way but not entirely as Lawrence University marked a special occasion with a music recital Saturday night, Jan. 15, from Memorial Chapel on campus.

Pardon the pun in the headline. Primarily classical music was performed – very well, and thus making for classy listening.

Jan. 15, 1847, is the date of the founding of the university – 175 years ago.

It’s a not-oft-celebrated birthday, probably owing to so few entities in America qualifying to celebrate it.

During the livestreamed presentation, Lawrence University President Laurie A. Carter offered some perspectives:

In 1847, Wisconsin was one year away from statehood.

In 1847, Appleton was six years away from becoming a village. Appleton became a city in 1857.

So – by imagining what WASN’T in what was-to-become Wisconsin or Appleton in 1847 gives the birthday distinction.

What is in Appleton and Lawrence University in 2022 is COVID-19. The campus is closed to the public, so Saturday’s recital was presented without an in-person audience. Also, one of the groups on the program was scratched because of a positive test for COVID-19.

The show went on – 48 minutes or so – and listening/watching remains available on the Lawrence University website. The site includes a lode of historical information and options for buying “swag,” as memorabilia is called in the program.

Especially interesting are photos through time, starting shortly after photography came to be with separate photos of the women and men in the first graduating class in 1857. Some give pause, like a photo of a peace parade in 1936.

There’s kind of/sort of form to the program. Music composed in 1847 or having relation to a Lawrence University alum figure into the choices but not entirely.

At the core, the performance is an expression of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, the sole conservatory in Northeastern Wisconsin. Expertise reigns.

The works are carefully researched and performed.

Performing in the 175th birthday recital of Lawrence University are mezzo-soprano Karen Leigh-Post and pianist Anthony Padilla. (Warren Gerds screenshot)

The program:

+ “Wanderlied,” opus 8, no. 4 (1846/posthumously 1850) – Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847); performed by Anthony Padilla, piano)

+ “Spiritual Suite” III. “Troubled Water” – Margaret Bonds (1913-1972); performed by Anthony Padilla, piano

+ “Aequale No. 1” (1847) – Anton Bruckner (1824-1896); performed by Jacob Dikelsky, Mikayla Frank-Martin and Ryan Saladin, trombones

+ “Sonata for Piano and Cello” II. “Andante sostenuto” (1858) – Louise Farrenc (1804-1875), arranged by Susan Pickett; performed by Matthew Michelic, viola, Anthony Padilla, piano

+ Scheduled by not performed: “Three Songs”: “Es rauschet das Wasser, Opus 28,” “Weg der Liebe, Opus 20,” arranged by Verne Reynolds, “So lass uns wandern, Opus 75” – Johannes Brahms (1833-1897); to have been performed by Ann Ellsworth, horn, Tim Albright, trombone, and Nicholas Towns, piano

+ Toccata” (1947) – Clyde Duncan (1920-1984); performed by Catherine Walby, piano

+ “A Little While” (2020) – Martha Helen Schmidt ’79 (born 1956) poetry: Sara Teasdale; “Simple Gifts” 1848 Shaker song attributed to Joseph Brackett (1950), arranged by Aaron Copland (1900-1990); “There came a wind like a bugle” (1951) – Aaron Copland poetry: Emily Dickinson; performed by Karen Leigh-Post, mezzo-soprano, Anthony Padilla, piano


Notes from the university:

Lawrence Institute, a private college, took its name from Amos A. Lawrence, a Boston merchant who pledged $10,000 to endow the school. The campus was built on land purchased from the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, the ancestral homelands of the Menominee and Ho-Chunk people. The institution became one of the first co-educational colleges in the United States. In 1874, the Conservatory of Music was established. In 1913, the institution adopted the name Lawrence College to underscore its commitment to undergraduate liberal education. In 1964, Lawrence assumed the name Lawrence University when it was consolidated with Milwaukee-Downer College for Women.

The year-long celebration will include a community event May 14, a Blue and White Weekend Oct. 7-8 and a rolling series of campus-related activities.

With an enrollment of nearly 1,500 students, Lawrence University is situated on 84 acres on the eastern edge of Appleton’s downtown and includes 60 instructional, residential, recreational and administrative facilities. Bjorklunden vid Sjon, a 441-acre estate on the shore of Lake Michigan south of Baileys Harbor in Door County, serves as an educational retreat for students and alumni.

The 175-year milestone also is known as a demisemiseptcentennial.

Birthday vs. anniversary:

Jan. 15, 1847, is the birthday of the institution that became Lawrence University. An anniversary would not have taken place until Jan. 15, 1848 – the first anniversary. In other words, Jan. 15, 2022, was the date of the 174th anniversary of Lawrence.