Paulnack recounts one listener's reaction to a performance of Copland's Violin Sonata, written as a tribute to a fallen pilot:
“During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team’s planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, [...] and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn’t understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?”
Paulnack's address to the parents concludes with a portion of his speech to the incoming students. This is something all of us musicians should keep in mind:
I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. [...] If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.
I remember being on the bus not long after starting my undergrad, and somehow I got to talking to a fellow student, some liberal arts student of an as-then-undetermined major, who was avidly seeking out the doctor-and/or-lawyer type. When I told her I was a musician, she asked something to the effect of "Well, what are you going to do with that?" And I responded along similar lines - I can help people, too.