Editorial: Week's end

Apr. 19, 2013 @ 07:26 PM

In a moment that seems straight out of “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” Paul Bryan this week had an amazing opportunity, returning to Duke University at the age of 93 to see a Wind Symphony made up of current members and about 60 who studied under Bryan decades ago.

They performed in honor of Maestro Bryan, but he also got to conduct parts of Symphony No. 3 by Vittorio Giannini.

The Herald-Sun’s Cliff Bellamy reported this week about Bryan’s musical reunion at Duke.

The conductor served as professor of music from 1951 to 1988. During his tenure, he commissioned compositions for the symphony and wrote his own pieces.

But, as it was with Glenn Holland in the movie, so it was with Bryan: In the end, for him, the experience was all about the students whose lives he touched.

“The students are what make the whole thing exciting,” Bryan said. “In retrospect, I’ve been involved in a lot of things, but the bottom line is the students.”

His former students obviously think a lot of him too.

“He is a very smart man, but he is so humble,” said Janet Yarbrough, a 1978 Duke graduate. “I don’t think he gets the recognition he should.”

James Brooks, who graduated in 1967, established a music department endowment in Bryan’s honor. He described Paul Bryan as “my Duke.”

“It’s almost impossible to describe what a special human being that man is, and not just from a musical standpoint,” Brooks said.

Bryan, who plays trombone and euphonium, can’t seem to give up the wind instruments while he still draws breath.

“I love to play,” he said. “If a day goes by I don’t play, I don’t feel fulfilled.”

We’re glad this week’s end hasn’t seen a stop to his music.

It’s been a noisy, chaotic week since two young men apparently set off backpack bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

That tragic incident, which killed three and injured 180 people and sparked one of the most intense manhunts in Beantown history, overshadowed a tremendous accomplishment that The Herald-Sun’s Harold Gutmann reported on Tuesday:

Shalane Flanagan, a UNC graduate and three-time Olympian, finished the marathon first among American women and was the fourth fastest female overall. Her final time: Two hours, 27 minutes, 8 seconds.

She deserved to enjoy her achievement for more than a few hours. It may come as small consolation, but this week she gets our Durham Grit Award.

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