The Darrell W. Krueger Library walls resonated with the vocal harmonies and rock sounds of the popular band The Beatles as professor Paul Vance began his lecture on “The Beatles and the Rediscovery of America” March 16.
“It’s impossible to know what music would be like without The Beatles,” said Paul Vance, professor of cello and director of orchestral activities at Winona State University. “And I don’t want to.”
Vance is an accomplished musician with a doctorate of musical arts and master of music degree in cello performance. He has performed recitals in more than eight different states, been featured in performances with eight orchestras throughout the country, and apprenticed with some of the most renowned musicians all over the world.
The Beatles have greatly influenced Vance throughout his musical career, he explained.
“I ingested everything they did and learned every part of every song of every album,” said Vance. “The Beatles have always been a part of my musical sensibility.”
Vance is seen by many as a Beatles enthusiast, but to his students, Vance is a Beatles encyclopedia, said WSU student and music major Kelly Blau.
Vance’s class at WSU, “Topics in Music History: Music of The Beatles,” is an intensive study of the historical influence of The Beatles in which he hopes to provide students with the ability to become more creative musical participants.
“Anything that teaches students to listen with fresh ears is great,” said Vance.
The lecture began with a discussion of America’s vulnerability in the early 60’s with the Kennedy assassination leaving the country in shock, Vance explained.
“[America] was in need and The Beatles provided that need,” said Vance.
Vance discussed that the band not only influenced other musicians, but the foursome also touched on their own musical inspirations through song.
“The Beatles pay a tribute in their original music to the many people who influenced them,” Vance explained. “The relationship between them and other artists is one of symbiosis.”
While many musicians have fallen under the pressure of fame, Vance acknowledged The Beatles’ ability maintain a relaxed and un-camouflaged persona in the public eye.
“What you see is what you get,” he said. “These guys were having fun and it was contagious.”
The Beatles can be considered one of the most popular bands in history and Vance attributes this to their ability to listen to any genre of music and learn something from it.
“Real musicians don’t say ‘I don’t like this music,’” said Vance. “[The Beatles] assimilated everything they ever heard into a unique and original language.”
Today, as Vance noted, The Beatles, in their lyrics and in their message, are a symbol of American harmony, a musical group that helped bring America back to being a proud, unified country.
“Please don’t let the next tragedy be the next time we come together and find what’s good and great about this country,” said Vance.
Vance not only projected his enthusiasm towards The Beatles music, but his knowledge of their undeniable influence on a culture. Audience members were roused to applause, filling the quiet library with a light roar, as Vance concluded his lecture.