Remembering Douglas Lowry

This morning, the UK’s Times Higher Education magazine posted a remembrance of Douglas Lowry, who served as the Joan and Martin Messinger Dean from 2007 until shortly before his untimely passing on October 2. Last summer, Jon Marcus interviewed Dean Lowry for an article in the THE on the founding of the new Paul R. Judy Center for Applied Research. In that piece, he discussed the tough times facing orchestras and music schools, and, in characteristic fashion for Dean Lowry, he saw the challenges as an opportunity for change that reflected the birth of new and exciting ways to share classical music:

The concert hall is no longer the domain of classical music … This burst of activity in new ensembles is presenting music in whole new ways classical music is, in fact, pretty damn healthy: it’s just transforming.

That combined ability to size up the musical landscape while also seeing possibility in tectonic changes that others might view as catastrophic is what (among so many other things) made Dean Lowry, whom Eastman is celebrating at an event in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre this Sunday, such a great leader.

In his 2012 commencement speech, he exhorted students to embrace change, take up the mantle as the next generation of music leaders, and build community with their art:

For us, here and now, our urgent task is to create–more–community This is where I believe we’ve sometimes failed. Although we as musicians want community ,some of us have lost the notion of what it takes to create one, or have felt mistakenly that just generating an audience constitutes creating a community. But that is such a dim view o the audience. It diminishes their purpose to simply a bunch of people gathered to pay us attention. It is not enough. The audience IS our community. Like the community many of you graduates have developed over the last few years. These are people with whom you laughed, cried, become strong friends, and shared perhaps one of the most personal experiences ever invented: you’ve made music together. Because music is such a powerful conduit through which to create an authentic communal bond.

All of his speeches are entertaining and insightful, none more so than that address to the class of ’12: