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BISC honours its late patron Dr. Alfred Bader

September 25, 2019
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The Bader International Study Centre (BISC) hosted a memorial concert for its late patron Dr. Alfred Bader (Sc’45, BA’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) on Sunday Sept. 22, that was attended by Bader family members, including his wife Isabel Bader, his two sons, and his granddaughter, who travelled from the United States especially for the occasion.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane also travelled to Herstmonceux Castle to join the Bader family in paying tribute to Alfred. It was his first visit to the castle since his appointment as the university’s 21st principal and vice-chancellor. He was joined by Karen Bertrand, Vice-Principal (Advancement), along with Isabel’s invited guests and leaders from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., the Bader family’s charitable arm.

In June this year, the BISC celebrated 25 years as an educational institution. For a quarter of a century, students from Canada and all over the world have been able to enjoy a truly transformative educational experience at Herstmonceux Castle, thanks to the vision and generosity of Queen’s alumnus Dr. Alfred Bader who, together with his wife Dr. Isabel Bader, had the foresight to purchase the castle for Queen’s University.

Isabel Bader’s visit allowed her and her family time to explore the local area. A particular highpoint for her was the opportunity to visit the Bexhill Museum and, for the first time, see an exhibition of the many costumes she had donated in the 1970s.

“It’s not just a costume exhibition. When we started the collection we had a drama school, so we used various props to put the costumes in a natural setting. That made them more interesting,” she says. “We had a classroom made up with a high desk. It was lovely to see two elderly gentlemen marvelling at the exhibit, taking a trip down memory lane and reminiscing about their own school days.”

The highlight of the weekend was The Alfred Bader Memorial Concert, featuring the talents of Bader Musicians in Residence Diana Gilchrist and Shelley Katz. More than 120 invited guests were in attendance, including close friends of Alfred and Isabel such as Alfred’s oldest friend, Ralph Emanuel, whose mother Bessy financially supported Alfred’s Kindertransport journey to England; many of Isabel’s friends in the local community and The Friends of Herstmonceux – local supporters of the BISC, who championed the purchase of the Castle by Queen’s in 1993; many former administrative leaders of the BISC and long-serving faculty members. They all came to honour Alfred Bader, as did several of Isabel’s former students from the Thalia School of Drama. Isabel was especially delighted that members of the family of her oldest friend, the late Christine Portch, were able to travel from Norfolk to attend.

The concert was emceed by Craig Walker, Director of the Dan School of Music and Drama at Queen’s. The musical programme featured a number of Isabel Bader’s favourite classical works, including Strauss’ Vier Letze Lieder (Four Last Songs) as performed by BISC Musician in Residence, soprano Diana Gilchrist. The Symphonova Orchestra accompanied Diana and was conducted by BISC Musician in Residence Shelley Katz. The BISC student choir performed L’dor vador, a song that was much beloved by Alfred and sung at his 85th birthday celebration at the BISC in 2009.

The concert was followed by afternoon tea under canopies in the castle courtyard. The event was officially hosted by Isabel Bader as a means of thanking the scores of loving friends and supporters for attending. Since his death in December 2018, Queen’s University has found many ways to honour the legacy of Dr. Alfred Bader, but this was an especially poignant opportunity to remember him in a setting that meant so much to him.

In his remarks, Principal Deane noted that Alfred Bader was a rare individual in that he had both great vision and the means of carrying out that vision. He was an inspiring figure. The principal spoke of the gratitude Queen’s has for Alfred and for his many contributions to the university. The university, he says, will be forever grateful to Dr. Alfred Bader for his remarkable legacy and his expansive vision of students from different parts of the world living and learning together.