Upbeat Pink Concert - Musical Tribute to Breast Cancer Survivorship

October 12, 2008

Good afternoon.

My name is Mark Workman. I am the provost and vice president for academic affairs, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to UNF. I am particularly pleased to be able to welcome you to this afternoon’s concert because this annual event stands out as one of the most special occasions of the year. I would like to suggest why this is so.

On their surface, music and breast cancer would appear to have precious little to do with each other. Upon reflection, however, I believe that each informs and is illuminated by the other in genuinely profound ways.
Breast cancer engages us in a contest with mortality. None of us will live forever, but all of us wish to be in command of the time and manner of our demise. What we are here today to celebrate is precisely the genius of our researchers and the determination and tenacity of breast cancer survivors that allows them to do just that; taken together, their genius and their determination prove that our noble physicians and our courageous mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, nieces, aunts, and girlfriends can indeed dictate the conditions and quality of life rather than being the passive victims of a force beyond their control.

What music bears witness to, it seems to me, is something similar. On the one hand music gives voice to the relentlessly enigmatic nature of human being, with all its pain, its joy, its despair, its hope, and its unpredictability. At the same time, unlike an unanswered ringing telephone, music never merely arbitrarily stops. Rather, through its remarkable organization of complex sound, its ability to always reach perfect closure regardless of the dissonance that might precede the last note, the best musical compositions invariably finish in a perfectly deliberate, seemingly inevitable fashion. In doing so, music powerfully reaffirms the ability of human beings to gain mastery of their lives even when aspects of those lives defy human understanding.

This is why today’s concert is so meaningful. In concert with one another, our breast cancer survivors, our physicians, and our musicians provide exquisite testament not just to our human frailty but also to our human strength, testament not just to our inescapable finitude but also to the transcendent spirit to which it gives rise.

I began by welcoming you to this concert. I would like to conclude by saying that it is really my sincere honor to be among a group of people as brave and as purposeful as those of you gathered here today, both in the audience and on the stage.