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Gregory Charles in concert at SPU: keeping the fire burning

 

It was a grace-filled moment that we will remember for a long time. On Wednesday, November 21, at 5:30 p.m., Gregory Charles sat down at the De Mazenod chapel piano to give a private concert for hundreds of donors and members of our large University family. True to form, the piano virtuoso of many hats had prepared a one-of-a-kind musical journey.

A sense of family

Presented free of charge to launch the SPU fundraising campaign, the concert unfolded in a decidedly family atmosphere. Charles was on familiar territory, so to speak. His wife, Nicole Collet, is the niece of Roger Collet, chair of SPU’s Board of Governors. “For a while my uncle Rodg had been telling me about SPU and his commitment to the institution,” he said. “So when they asked me to give this concert, I didn’t hesitate.”

In fact, it was as a family, accompanied by his wife and their daughter, Julia, that Gregory wanted to experience this special evening.

 

Gregory Charles with a young fan 
In harmony

It was also out of affection for universities as institutions that Mr. Charles decided to perform at SPU. “Universities like Saint Paul are bastions of knowledge and custodians of our civilization,” he said. He also emphasized his strong connection with Ontario’s francophone community. “It’s rather strange to be mentioning it this week, when the province’s Francophonie is under attack,” he noted. He who is renowned in Ontario, as a host as well as an artist and choir director, took the opportunity to highlight his support for Franco-Ontarians at the end of the concert by affirming loudly and clearly their right to exist, which deeply touched the audience.

 

The spiritual and the scientific

Charles, who is openly a believer and has a very Cartesian outlook, offers a valuable point of view on the duality that defines Saint Paul University, where the spiritual and the scientific exist side by side. “I believe the two are complementary,” he says. “They collide, naturally, but they are not opposed. At this particular time in history, our civilization is in decline, and these two approaches are under attack. Universities have a role to play, and those like SPU that cultivate both approaches must be preserved.”

Gregory Charles
Social engagement

Gregory Charles attributes to his late mother, Pierrette, many lessons that guide him through life, especially this one: having a gift means having responsibilities. What is his view of the social engagement of scientists and businesspeople? “We are more prosperous than ever before, and yet we are vulnerable in so many ways. When we are asked to contribute, we must answer, ‘Here.’” What gives him hope? The nature of human beings which, according to him, is fundamentally good. “All we need to do is remind people that they have all the tools they need to do good.”

 

Gregory Charles' advice to SPU students

“Keep the fire burning. The fire has to keep burning. That is our work, for those of us who seek enlightenment. And I applaud the young people of Saint Paul University who are interested in subjects that bring together intellectual and spiritual approaches. Gardez le feu brûlant.


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