A Cultural Conversation with Peter Buffett

By Tom Stankard ‘14

A select group of UD faculty and students got the rare chance to meet and hold a conversation with Emmy Award-Winning musician, philanthropist, and author Peter Buffett last week.

Buffett came to Dayton to perform “Life Is What You Make It: A Concert and Conversation with Peter Buffett” live at the Victoria Theatre on Tuesday, November 12. The concert was hosted by, and benefited, the University of Dayton’s Human Rights Studies Program.

The concert and conversation used multimedia to look at the life of the philanthropist that is Peter Buffett, from discovering his love of music and the piano, to writing music inspired by the travesties he sees before his very eyes. Through talking about life stories, Buffett strove to motivate the audience to inspire change amongst the world around them.

Buffett the musician, accompanied by world-famous cellist Michael Kott, performed five songs, including: “Amarcord,” “Set Us Free,” “Plastic Tomb,” “Blood Into Gold” and “Can We Love.” Before starting each song, Buffett discussed the background of each in order to add new depth to the lyrics. I was intrigued by his stories, because each one involved a personal element, making them more relatable to the audience.

One of these songs, “Can We Love,” was the topic of discussion at that very meeting which students and faculty were able to hold with the man himself, Peter Buffett. The aim of the conversation was to use “Can We Love” and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” as a lens through which to explore the meaning of love in today’s society. Among the students and faculty at the discussion were senior Communication major Maria Delgado and ArtStreet Director Brian LaDuca.

I decided to interview Maria and Brian about their experience meeting with Peter Buffett:

Why were you chosen to meet and attend the conversation with Peter Buffett?

MD: I was filming the experience with Peter Buffett for my job at ArtStreet. Brian and I were in a meeting together and he thought that I could contribute to the experience as well as have it for our office. I was honored and excited that he asked me to be a part of the conversation.

Describe your experience with Peter Buffett.

MD: Peter Buffett was a great presence to be around. He had such insightful commentary on rights and today's generation, OUR generation, that really left the group with an idea to walk away with.

BL: Our conversation was a charged debate about his personal work. He came in with open arms and embraced the conversation and really, without knowing what Macklemore’s “Same Love” was, he was kind of going to go ahead and play with us for 25, 35 minutes. During the conversation, we took the ideas of his song, “Can We Love,” and Macklemore’s and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” and we looked at the nature of what is love in today’s world and how does the current generation react to the specific language of “Same Love” versus the global language of “Can We Love.”

What did you think of Peter Buffett?

MD: I think Peter Buffett is a talented man with a great sense of knowledge that our generation can use to apply to our lives and our future. He was eager to listen to our voices and opinions and was willing to just give us a chance to talk and voice our ideas about love, rights and equality. The conversation with him showed me that our generation has a voice. We live in the now so that we can give perspective to those around us.

BL: I think he kept it in close to the vest. I think that’s part of the nature when you are a person of such a stature where you are recruited to donate money at the level he’s going to give money. He probably does this so often that I think that there’s a sense of “how much excitement do you give something so you don’t give false hope?” (for those of you who don’t know, Buffett is a co-chairman, alongside his wife Jennifer, of the NoVo Foundation. The NoVo Foundation is dedicated to transform the world into a world of equality and partnership, according to http://novofoundation.org)

If you could ask Peter Buffett one question, what would it be?

BL: What is his hope for change down the road? What is his overall plan as a philanthropist? What is it that he would like to begin to see with specificity?

Tom Stankard is a senior at the University of Dayton, majoring in journalism. Tom enjoys sports and writing.

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