Investiture Ceremony Celebrates New Dean of Eastman School of Music

Ceremony will include presentation of honorary degree to jazz legend Marian McPartland

October 22, 2007

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The performance of one of his own works will highlight the inaugural ceremony marking the investiture of Douglas Lowry as Dean of the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester.

The ceremony, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, in Eastman Theatre, will also feature the presentation of the honorary degree Doctor of Music to internationally renowned jazz pianist Marian McPartland, a longtime friend of the Eastman School. Musical selections for the investiture, including traditional ceremonial works as well as Lowry’s and McPartland’s own compositions, will be performed by Eastman students and faculty.

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman will preside over the investiture ceremony and deliver welcoming remarks.

About Dean Douglas Lowry
Lowry began his tenure as the sixth dean of the Eastman School of Music on Aug. 1 this year. Previously, he was dean and Thomas James Kelly Professor at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for seven years. There, he is credited with building strategic local, national, and international partnerships, establishing important endowments, and recruiting key faculty.

In Cincinnati, Lowry served on the boards of community and music organizations and was co-host of WVXU’s Around Cincinnati, a radio series focusing on the arts and entertainment in the Greater Cincinnati area.

For almost 20 years before that, Lowry taught and held academic leadership positions at the Flora L. Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, where he earned graduate degrees in orchestral conducting and trombone.

An active composer and conductor, Lowry has received commissions to create works for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, St. Louis Repertory Theater, and a multimedia installation at the Kodak Center in Los Angeles. His compositional premieres and other musical work have taken him to venues throughout the United States and Asia as a guest conductor and clinician of orchestras and wind ensembles.

The investiture ceremony will feature two movements, “SB&G (Semitonal Bump and Grind)” and “TarantellaReel,” from Lowry’s work Scandalous Dances for Clarinet, Piano and String Quartet. The piece will be performed by Eastman Chamber Music Society graduate student members Gregory DeTurck, piano, Natasha Makhijani, violin, Brian Wahrlich, clarinet, Leanne Dammann, viola, Mao Omura, violin, and Svetlana Vasilyeva, cello.

About Marian McPartland
McPartland has been a frequent performer at the Eastman School of Music since 1971, when she was invited to headline an annual “Arranger’s Holiday” concert started by jazz department head Raymond Wright. After Wright died in 1990, McPartland was instrumental in the creation of a scholarship fund in his name.

Heralded as a superb interpreter and forceful improviser, McPartland has been performing for almost seven decades. She started on the vaudeville circuit in her native England in the late 1930s and played for Allied troops during World War II. Moving to Manhattan in 1949, she joined her husband, cornetist Jimmy McPartland, for a brief time in his Dixieland band. Over the course of her career, she has performed with nearly all the important jazz musicians and other musical luminaries such as Ray Charles and Tony Bennett.

The 89-year-old jazz artist has recorded for several labels, including more than 60 albums on Concord Records, and founded her own imprint, Halcyon Records. Her series, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, has aired weekly on National Public Radio for more than 25 years, earning the Peabody Award in 1984 and the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in 1991. She was inducted into the International Association of Jazz Education Hall of Fame in 1986 for her commitment to music education in the country’s public schools. McPartland was awarded her first Grammy, a Trustees Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2004.

Additional Musical Performances
One of McPartland’s own compositions, “Ambiance,” will be performed by the Eastman Jazz Trio, consisting of faculty members Harold Danko, piano, Rich Thompson, drums, and Jeff Campbell, bass, before her honorary degree presentation.

Eastman Brass, composed of faculty members James Thompson, trumpet, Douglas Prosser, trumpet, W. Peter Kurau, French horn, John Marcellus, trombone, and Don Harry, tuba, will perform before the ceremony and during the processional and recessional. In addition, Eastman student Kathryn Blomshield Lewek, soprano, will be accompanied by faculty member Russell Miller, piano, for two songs by Claude Debussy: “Les Papillons” and “Apparition.” The manuscript of “Les Papillons” was authenticated in 1990, and subsequently transcribed and edited by Eastman Professor of Music Theory and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Marie Rolf in a 2004 monograph. One of the first major performances of “Les Papillons” after its publication was by Eastman School of Music alumna and acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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