By Isabel Knight '16, co-chair of the Inaugural Steering Committee
During inauguration weekend, a number of student performers helped celebrate the installation of President Valerie Smith.
Students were a major part of both Friday's arts celebration in the Lang Performing Arts Center and Saturday's community celebration under the tent on Parrish Beach.
The Tri-Co a cappella group Chaverim, which brought in five new members this year, welcomed Smith with two pieces during Saturday's celebration: “Baba Yetu,” a Swahili version of The Lord’s Prayer, and “Kaval Sviri,” a Bulgarian folk song.
According to the group’s director Z.L. Zhou ‘16, "Baba Yetu" was chosen for its meaning and the universality of its sentiment. It is well-known not only because it is the Lord’s Prayer, but also because it is the theme song for the popular video game Civilization 5. The linguistics major from Tucson, Ariz., says the group chose "Kaval Sviri" because “it is very dissonant at times, but at others, it collapses into these perfect, clear notes that fit into the idea of community and collaboration in ways you would not expect from most pieces in the Western tradition.”
Grapevine, Swarthmore’s all-female a cappella group, also performed an iconic song: the classic “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse, and “Eet” by Regina Spektor, both arranged by film and media studies major Kemmer Cope ’17 of Lake Bluff, Ill. “We thought they were great complements for each other," says Sophie Miller ‘16.
“I see this as a huge celebration about how we feel about [Val] coming," adds Miller, an English literature major from Chevy Chase, Md. "People are freaking out about her and it seems like everyone is so excited to be around her. She seems really excited to be here."
In addition to a cappella, the Tri-Co dance group Rhythm ‘n Motion (RnM) also performed. They started with their classic opener in the Umfundalai African technique, transitioned into a very high-energy Nigerian African style, and ended with a hip hop piece.
“We wanted to pick pieces from our past that best represent our group," says RnM co-director Frank Wu ’16, a mathematics and education studies major from Birmingham, Ala. "So we went through our repertoire to find something fun and energetic for Val’s inauguration. Our goal this year was to be more connected with our community and we thought this would be a great way to welcome Val to Swarthmore, RnM style.”
The community celebration also featured spoken word from Our Art Spoken in Soul (OASiS) and a performance by Isaac Akrong and the African drum and dance ensemble.