'Live Joyfully, Work Hard, Play Hard:' David Stull Welcomes a New Academic Year with Convocation

david stull convocation

SFCM President David Stull addressing new and returning students.

The SFCM community gathered to celebrate its 105th year with a live performance, awards, and a special message on the future of music.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the protagonist famously references "the undiscovered country." (As does, a student noted, Star Trek VI.) At this year's convocation, President David Stull posed a new meaning for the notable quote: “The future of music is the undiscovered country,” Stull said as he welcomed the new academic school year inside Caroline H. Hume concert hall, adding that today’s students will create that future “music of quality and enduring importance.” 

President David Stull with advice for students.

Live joyfully, work hard, play hard. President Stull shared this advice and more with students as they embarked on a new school year challenging students to take advantage of their time at SFCM. “Find your friends, find a vision for yourself and use this precious time on campus to do these things for yourself,” Stull said, adding that being a musician is not just about practicing and performing: “At the end of the day we need pitch and you need time, but you also need storytelling… Be the best of the best of storytellers.”

Friends of the Moonlight Society perform inside Hume Hall.

SFCM's student-led Moonlight Society, which started in 2020, concluded the ceremony with a performance of "The Beauty of All Things," by Laurence Hobgood and Kurt Elling. The tune was bolstered by an interactive component: A QR code on the commencement program through which students could anonymously submit their fears—not, as the Moonlight Society's Michail Thompson explained, to give students more to fear, but to show the universality of their experiences. Answers provided ranged from "that I won't get to do what I love with my life" to "missing my train" and the answer that drew the biggest laugh from the crowd: "Sight-reading ... and death."

Among the awards and scholarships given out, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Michael Roest awarded violinist Magdalena Zaczek ’23 with the Presser Undergraduate Scholarship and Jonas Wright, Dean & Chief Academic Officer presented Rebeca Mauleón, Professor of Roots, Jazz, and American Music with the Sarlo Family Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching.

President Stull ended the convocation with a message on the role of music in a world full of issues and ongoing crisis, “Science can solve scientific problems, we solve human problems,” Stull continued, "It's only when we as a collective species on the planet embrace that side of humanity that really things will turn around. Where science can help us, where solutions are powerful: Art makes that happen. That is why you all are here."