Series enriches students and townies alike

The Artist in Residence Series at Fort Lewis College may be one of the best things the college does for its students and the surrounding music loving community.

In my eyes, the FLC Music Department, Roshong Recital Hall and the Community Concert Hall are the most under-appreciated concert performance spaces in town. Many of the performances are jazz and classical – styles that often attract niche audiences – but the venues remain great outlets for off-campus music lovers of all types. The series is a feather in the cap for the music students, but also anyone else who wants to take advantage of hearing what the students are learning. Guest musicians, many of them professors, visit throughout the school year teach a class and give a performance. If you’re a music-lover, you’d be a fool to not take advantage.

The series began in 1995 when a small group tried promoting on-campus events to the locals. The artist-in-residence series is now governed by a committee that works with the faculty of the music department to select musician/teachers for the fall and winter semesters.

“We work together to select artists who will benefit the community artistically, the students musically and pedagogically, and who will create a well-rounded and compelling program throughout the entire academic year,” said Lisa Campi-Walters, an associate professor of piano. “The concerts and classes most directly benefit the students of the music department but overall contribute to the cultural climate of the entire campus. It is extremely enriching for Fort Lewis College music students to be able to participate in master classes held by non-FLC associated artists; it broadens their experience and exposes them to a greater breadth of knowledge.”

Sunday’s artist in residence is pianist Rebecca Penneys. She will give a recital Tuesday in Roshong Recital Hall then come back Wednesday to teach a free master class.

“Prodigy” is an apt term to describe Penneys and her career path. She has been performing as a soloist since she was in single digits. At age 11, she was playing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Special Critics Prize awarded at the Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw was created in her honor.

She currently splits her time between two East Coast states; she is artist in residence at St. Petersburg College in Florida and also serves as the musical director at a number of concert series throughout New York. Penneys also teaches at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where Campi was her student.

For Penneys, teaching and performing cannot be separated.

“I think music, performing and teaching go together,” Penneys said last week from her home in New York. “I would not be happy doing one without the other, that’s for sure. They’re different and very complementary at the same time.”

.Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story