Chemistry Laureate Peter Agre and other luminaries sing a tune for Hopkins

  • Dr. Ben Carson
Dr. Ben Carson (Jerry Jackson, The Baltimore…)
December 29, 2010|By Laura Vozzella, The Baltimore Sun

The Johns Hopkins University has come out with a music video, and if you're one of the thousands of Hopkins donors, faculty, staff and students who received it by e-mail, I hate to break it to you: That isn't the opera-quality voice of Dr. Ben Carson, he of the "Gifted Hands."

Like all of the people singing on screen — they include Hopkins President Ron Daniels, Provost Lloyd Minor and Professor Peter Agre — the famed Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon is lip-synching. The beautiful voices belong to students at Hopkins' Peabody Institute.

You can hear some regular voices on the outtakes and bloopers reel, available with the video at http://modeluniversity.jhu.edu. The standout there is Agre, who broke into another song while filming. The co-winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in chemistry sang — what else? — the periodic table of the elements.

"There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium," he began. "And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium/And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium/And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium."

Agre, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Malaria Research Institute, didn't make up the song. It's "The Elements," which songwriter-mathematician Tom Lehrer set to the tune of "Major-General's Song" from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates Of Penzance."

The Hopkins ditty was set to the same perky piano tune.

"We are the very model of a modern university," it begins. "With 20,000 students we're the picture of diversity/We know our Hopkins history and Gilman's core philosophy/And we spell Johns Hopkins without using an apostrophe."

The video is Hopkins' second annual "shout-out in gratitude to the many thousands of alumni and friends whose support makes Johns Hopkins all that it is," according to Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea, who also gets into the act — and gets stuck with some of the most tortured lyrics:

"We'll hum a rousing tune of which we've heard the music's din afore," O'Shea sings, before stopping to ask, "'Din afore'?"

Toned-down ball

Gov. Martin O'Malley will kick off his second term in somewhat muted style, judging by inaugural ball plans I came across online.

Details are yet to be formally announced and invites aren't going out until next week. But http://www.mdinaugural.com offers a sneak peek at the particulars.

The festivities begin on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, two days before the Jan. 19 swearing-in, with service projects ranging from construction work at a Baltimore elementary school to a stream cleanup in Montgomery County.

The next day, O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will take part in what is billed as a "youth inaugural event" at the University of Maryland, College Park. High school students from across the state will meet with them to discuss challenges and opportunities for their future.

And finally, on Jan. 19, after the formal swearing-in in Annapolis, there will be a ball in Baltimore. Four years ago, O'Malley's inaugural ball drew more than 8,000 to the Baltimore Convention Center. This time around, about 3,000 are expected to attend. The venue, the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore, will be smaller, too.

The dress code is "business cocktail attire," a shift from the "black tie optional" of four years ago.

Also new this year: Those who attend are asked to bring a canned or nonperishable food item for the Maryland Food Bank.

The ball was a bigger to-do back in 2007 because Maryland was getting a new governor and the economy was better, O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said.

"It's still a celebration, but smaller," Abbruzzese said. "It is an inaugural for our times."

About the only thing beefed up for the privately financed ball is the slogan. Four years ago, it was "One Maryland." This year it's "We Are One Maryland."

Does a scaled-down ball mean O'Malley won't see fit to sing and strum for the crowd as he did last time around?

All Abbruzzese would say on the topic was, "Stay tuned."

If you're interested, tickets are available through the website. The price is $75, or $50 for students and seniors.

'Parade of stupid'

While chatting with Del. Michael Smigiel about a few bills he had filed, I asked the Cecil County Republican if he had high hopes for the coming General Assembly session.

"No, ma'am," he said. "You ever watch the show 'Hairspray,' where you have the lady and she says to the young couple what they have to look forward to is 'a whole lot of ugly coming from a never-ending parade of stupid'? That's what I'm expecting out of this session."

laura.vozzella@baltsun.com


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