NEW YORK — Since his death on July 9, the life of musician Ugonna Igweatu ’09 has been honored by thousands who shared an appreciation for his artistic work.
Shortly after Igweatu died of an asthma attack in his Bronx home on July 9, Jamie Van Dyck ’10 posted a song he had recorded with Igweatu just days earlier on the music-sharing website SoundCloud, and Max Lanman ’10 posted the link on the social-networking website Reddit. Since the original July 11 post, the song has been listened to over 143,000 times, and has climbed as high as No. 10 on Reddit’s front page.
A funeral was held on Saturday for Igweatu, a member of Calhoun College and a son of Nigerian immigrants who had lived in the Bronx with his family since graduation as he pursued a career as an artist. At the well-attended, Catholic service, Igweatu’s family members and middle school principal shared memories recalling his intelligence, dedication and humility. The recording of his final song was also played.
Van Dyck said he initially posted Igweatu’s song to SoundCloud as a way to help Igweatu finally achieve his goal of becoming a musician.
“What’s given us strength in this time has been fighting for Ugonna’s dreams,” he said, “even though he’s no longer here.”
A budding filmmaker as well as a musician, Igweatu entered Yale intending to specialize in the sciences but soon devoted his attention to music after teaching himself to sing and play the guitar during his sophomore year, close friend Stephen Brandes ’09 said.
Anne Xu ’09, a classmate and close friend of Igweatu’s, said she thinks Igweatu’s music has gained popularity because of his compelling personal story and “amazing” voice.
Igweatu’s love of music developed “organically,” starting when he played the flute in the high school band, said his friend and high school classmate Justin Muirhead ’09, who attended the funeral. When Muirhead visited the set of a music video Igweatu was shooting, he said he was “blown away” by his friend’s talent.
“He talked with such enthusiasm and you could tell he was only happy doing what he did, music,” Muirhead said.
Igweatu’s cousin, Soochie Nnaemeka ’09, said Igweatu was able to nurture his creative side because of an environment at Yale that fosters musical talent. Though Yale can often be overwhelming, Nnaemeka said, Igweatu was able to “come out of his shell” through music and embrace his college experience.
Igweatu was living with his mother and siblings when he died.
The piece below, titled “Running out of time,” was written by Marie Colvin ’78 for the special issue of the News handed out at Commencement 1978. Colvin, a seasoned war correspondent, was killed by a mortar strike on Wednesday while covering the escalating violence in the city of Homs.
The most memorable event of my Yale career occurred in the dining hall. At Silliman lunch last week, I was eating and commiserating with a group of fellow seniors, slaphappy at the thought of all the work to be done in the last week of term. Everyone had a how-to story, the kind that only circulates at finals time, like the one about the student who handed in a bluebook with “IV” written on the cover, inscribed with one sentence on the first page: “and that’s the way it was in seventeenth century England,” and received a final grade of “B” from some T.A.; talk about surefire dean’s excuses and where to catch a quick 24-hour bug, always good for a night at DUH.
At a pause in the conversation, during which I flashed on the twelve pages per day I’d have to write for the next week, a friend next to me sighed and said profoundly, “There’s just not enough time.” It came out of the blue, but it was the most relevant non-sequitur ever uttered.
It sums up my Yale career. I’ve spent the last weeks of every semester holed up in the Sillibrary, coffeepot by my side, moving from one stack of books and clutter of papers to the next like a guest at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The last week of my senior year I was there again, drinking coffee by the pot, sleeping two hours nightly, marshaling enough credits to graduate.
That’s why I wasn’t a varsity athlete, or an editor of the Oldest College Daily, why every room I’ve ever lived in has been almost furnished. It’s why my papers come back marked “good potential, inadequately realized.” And it’s why I can’t tell you what it feels like to be finished with Yale, whether it’s euphoric or just anti-climatic, because I’m not, and by the time I am everyone will have left and I won’t even be able to ask anyone.
It takes everybody but the football team four years to realize that there is no way to do the work expected of you, that teachers and deans don’t really expect you to do it all and that the real test of intelligence is to do the minimum amount of work for the maximum reward. The football team somehow learns freshman year what it takes everyone else three years (it took me four). The most important things to look for when choosing a course are not relevancy to future career, interesting subject, or something you should know. Number of papers and pages per paper, number of exams, and Course Critique grade point spread are all you need to look for. And if the football team shows up for the first lecture, you’ve chosen correctly.
The finer points of course selection involve arranging enough of a workload so that when you do go out to Rudy’s, Mory’s, or the Elizabethan Club for tea you can feel a twinge of guilt. And so that you can participate in end-of-semester-conversations.
The worst thing about graduating is that I can’t remember what I did all semester. I thought I was working, but that seems impossible. I’ve started promoting the theory that Yale is centered in a time warp. Time doesn’t just seem to pass twice as fast, it does. We have only one week to the universal two.
I haven’t accepted the fact that I am not going to do everything I kept putting off. I am not graduating Phi Beta Kappa, I don’t have 48 credits and 47 A’s, I will never read the bookcase of course books diligently bought in the Co-op, lined up neatly with their binders unwrinkled. I will not paint the fourth wall in my bedroom. I will probably never even find out the name of that curly-haired boy in my English seminar I’ve been flirting with all year.
It’s hard to say even what I’ve learned here. I don’t think I’ve finished adjusting yet. I have nothing striking to say about anything and it seems like I should. I’ve changed from a regular science major to a science major who only takes English courses (there was no time to change majors), learned about weenies, jocks, and turned-up collars, learned how to run, not fast but far enough to enjoy the sweat, learned how to do footnotes. Unlearned a lot too — like weenies and jocks don’t exist and that turned-up collar means zilch. And I’ve learned how ridiculous it is to try to convince people that you are serious about something, that you have a direction. Best of all, I missed all the deadlines — LSAT, GRE, scholarships, grants, and fellowships — not enough time— so I guess I’ll wake up Tuesday morning and start thinking about it. Or else just buy a plane ticket.
The one realization I have come to after four years is that I can still make all the mistakes I want and it doesn’t matter. I remind myself of this often, whenever I feel the “let’s get serious mood” coming on, or I lunch with law-business-medical school prospectives, or read an article about shopping bag ladies in the New York subway system. Not that there’s anything at all wrong with going to law-business-medical school, but enough people stick up for it, and that’s not the point anyway.
The point is that it doesn’t matter if you mess up, choose the wrong road, flop in Vegas. What’s important is to throw yourself in head first, to “go for the gusto.” And if you blow it, you blow it. What we have to worry about now is success. Once you’re successful, it becomes embarrassing to make mistakes, and more difficult to grab onto the nearest straw and hold on. You can always be a star, so what’s the rush?
Colvin worked for the Sunday Times for the past 20 years, reporting on women and children in wartorn parts of the world. On Tuesday, Colvin spoke to various news outlets about escalating violence in the Syrian city of Homs.
“The sickening thing is the complete merciless nature…the scale of it is just shocking,” Colvin said via satellite phone in an NBC Nightly News piece that aired just hours before her death.
Colvin’s death comes days after Colvin and Paris-based correspondent Jean-Pierre Perrin were warned that Syrian troops would murder them if they stayed in Syria, the Daily Mail reported. When Perrin and Colvin were leaving Syria, Colvin decided to return because the major offensive had not yet taken place, the Mail reported.
Along with Colvin, French photojournalist Remi Ochlik was killed in Wednesday’s blasts, which marked the 19th day of bombardment for the city of Homs.
Play the video below to hear Colvin speak on NBC Nightly News on Tuesday.
Earle Gister, a professor who taught at the School of Drama for 20 years, died in his sleep Jan. 22 at his home in New Haven. He was 77.
Gister joined the Yale School of Drama in 1979, and served as associate dean for academic affairs and chair of the acting program for 19 years. He retired in 1999, by which point he had trained thousands of actors. A number of Gister’s former students have started sharing stories of the late professor on a Facebook page called “Friends of Earle Gister.” Many have spoken of specific instances in which Gister made his mark on them, with his zeal for Chekhov’s and his ability to advise those who are struggling.
“He blasted our hearts every day […] he threw so many gems at us on a continual basis,” said one former student.
Gister was widely considered a pioneer in developing actor training around the country, having helped develop programs at the North Carolina School for the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University and the Juilliard School, among other institutions. He co-founded the League of Professional Theatre Training Programs, which coordinated various programs across the country from 1972-87. The website of The Actors’ Center describes him as a person “whom a generation of established actors look to as their primary artistic influence.”
Later this year, Pearson Academic will publish “Acting: The Gister Method,” a handbook co-written by Gister and Joseph Alberti. Gister is survived by three children and two grandchildren.
WTNH weatherman Mel Goldstein, known as “Dr. Mel,” died on Wednesday after a battle with multiple myeloma. He was 66.
Goldstein began his media career as a radio broadcaster after obtaining a doctorate in meteorology from New York University, according to WTNH. Goldstein’s radio show won a national following, and in the 1980s he joined WTNH. In 1986, he became chief meteorologist for WTNH. Goldstein also authored “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Weather” and “Dr. Mel’s Connecticut Climate Book.” There is a scholarship fund named after him at Western Connecticut State University.
“Dr. Mel was a dear friend and great public servant, who made every day brighter regardless of the weather,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 said. “He faced both life and death with profound and powerful grace, caring and courage. I will miss him as a friend and model of humanity and humor.”
Goldstein is survived by his wife and two daughters. A funeral will be held at the Robert E. Shure Funeral Home in New Haven on Friday morning.
Frank and Claire Criscuolo operated Claire’s, a vegetarian restaurant famous for its cakes, together at its location at the corner of Chapel and College Streets since its opening in 1975. In 2004, they opened Basta Trattoria, a restaurant featuring Southern Italian cuisine, next door on Chapel Street. In addition to his work at both restaurants, Frank Criscuolo served on the board of the New Haven Public School Foundation and, along with his wife, wrote a column on vegetarian cooking in the New Haven Register.
“Frank has been part of the fabric of downtown New Haven for many decades and it’s hard to imagine New Haven without him,” wrote Anne Worcester, the head of Market New Haven, in a community email, the New Haven Independent reported.
Criscuolo is survived by his wife Claire, his brother Michael Criscuolo of North Haven, three nieces and a nephew. Iovanne Funeral Home, located in Wooster Square, will hold a service for Frank on Saturday.