"mentioning Gary Tanaka as a good example of an alumnus who had maintained contact."
Gary Tanaka is not a good example of an Alumnus who keeps in touch. Dr Tanaka is a good example of an alumnus with a huge stash of money who rang up college randomly and said "I want to donate some of my huge pile". Prior to that, no-one had been in contact with him for ages...
Sources tell me that since that fateful day, the Alumni Office has gone from a couple of dingy offices, to a sprawling metropolis... coincidence? I think not.
Being a member of the choir, I'd like to point out a few things :-)
(1) The "extremely dreary work" sung during the procession was in fact "Gaudeamus igitur" which has been sung every year as tradition - it is according to http://ingeb.org/Lieder/gaudeamu.html - one of the oldest student songs ever. However, I can't disagree at all with the description of the piece. Not wonderful at all.
(2) The music sung underneath the graduating students was Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus and Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine. Both pieces are popular favourites in the Classical Music world - and are highly regarded beautiful works, not like a "Funeral March". Obviously our tastes cross on this point. Oh, if you couldn't hear the names then perhaps you should ask the technical people in the RAH to turn up the speakers - I'm sure they are powerful enough to drown out the funeral music.
(3) Just in case anyone else is interested, the other piece of music sung by the choir - as a pure performance with nothing else happening was Parry's I Was Glad which was written in 1902 for the coronation and has been sung at everyone since upon the arrival of the new Monarch. This is a absolutely fabulous piece.
Please remember that choir gave up the entire day to make yours better - perhaps some mark of graditude would be nice for our hard work on your behalf.
[Simon] Andy, as a choir conductor himself, is well acquainted with all the choral lollipop music from the ceremony. As am I.
And lovely as the music is and as generous as it was for you all to give your time to sing, it doesn't counter the fact that graduand names were often rendered inaudible.
Of fantastic amusement value was the fact that when the incidental music took a minor lurch, one couldn't help but feel that the student on stage was slightly sinister (mindful of the "baddie music" in films).
I there was only one piece for which I couldn't hear the names - played by the ickle (chamber?) orchestra, not sung by the choir - and it did have slight sinister tones in it and felt somewhat out of place.... I heard the names over all the rest of them ok, but then I was sat at the front so perhaps that helped. It would be a bit upsetting for parents not to be able to hear their offspring's name....
I agree with Nia, I was in the middle and there was only one short piece when the names were drowned out. (And they were medics anyway)
I actually thought the most dissapointing bit for a few parents was the fact that the video, playing above the choir, showed close ups of the majority of people as they crossed the stage, but occasionally, and apparently randomly, panned the audience and missed someone. If I was that parent, I'd be pissed!
Personally, I kinda wished Sykes hadn't been there the moment he opened his mouth and started his "yay to fees" speech. It was the graduates who were supposed to be celebrating, (and to be celebrated), not his dodgy politics that most graduates disagree with. No wonder we weren't allowed to wear those funny hats for the ceremony. It would have made a great projectile, and it would have been only too tempting to try and shut him up that way.
Which reminds me. Despite best pre-ceremony intentions, I completely forgot to stop in front of him, face him, and whisper expletives at him.
It's all up to the soundman really to have made sure the names of all students were heard clearly at every point in the hall audience while the music was going. Given the terrible acoustics of the RAH, that was probably impossible.
Yeah Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the wall could have fitted the occassion too, "we don't need no education"
Yeah, I thought it a little inappropriate that Sykes had used this particular occasion to jump onto his soap box.
Re: "It's all up to the soundman really to have made sure the names of all students were heard clearly......" there's a limit to how far you can turn up the mic without getting feedback (ouch!). If the announcer was standing too far away from the mic or the music was a bit too loud then having already pre-set the volume level (most likely just below the level at which it'll feedback) there's usually little the sound engineer can do to help.