Peter Sellars on Pleasure and Justice

Opera director Peter Sellars was given an honorary degree at Cornish College of the Arts this year. I finished my first year teaching at Cornish and was delighted to see his name in the commencement invite. I went to the event. Funny, because I never went to my own graduation and I had three chances: University of Washington, UCLA and New York University.

The last time I saw Peter was at Carnegie Hall for his staging of Kurtag's Fragments with Dawn Upshaw. I hadn't seen him in three years and missed his inspiring presence. I call the times I see him my Peter Fix.

Listening to Peter is always inspiring. In his Cornish Commencement speech he used two keywords: pleasure and justice. He admonished the graduating students to create work that was pleasurable for audiences. When a connection with the audience was made, they should introduce justice.

I like the idea of pleasure in relation to experiencing performance. Too often I am tormented in the audience. Rather than enjoying ideas I am planning ways to escape.

As always Peter finds ways to connect people, art and morality. If you have a chance, get your Peter Fix or tell me how he inspired you.