Feb. 1, 2012
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer
Not unlike his students who prepare for a big performance the semester before they graduate and leave campus, Dr. Larry Smithee, associate professor of music at Maryville College, is practicing for a “senior recital” of his own.
Set to retire at the end of this spring after 21 years on the faculty, Smithee, a trumpeter, will perform one last time at Maryville College on Fri., Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall.
The recital, which is free and open to the public, will feature music by several jazz greats, including Milt Jackson, Horice Silver, Dizzy Gillespie and others.
“I think this concert is going to be a lot fun, especially for me,” Smithee said. “If listeners enjoy a jazz beat and swing styled music, I think they will really enjoy this concert. We are going to showcase a virtual history of jazz music within this program – from New Orleans to contemporary jazz, there will be a lot of variety.”
Smithee, who began his trumpet studies at age 11 in Munford, Tenn., earned bachelor's and master's degrees in music education from Arkansas State University. He holds a doctor of education degree from Washington University in St. Louis. Previously the music arranger for the United States Air Force Band (Shreveport, La.) and a performer with the rhythm-and-blues group The Louisiana Purchase, Smithee has performed with nationally known artists and touring groups, including Ray Charles, Mel Torme and the Bob Hope Show.
At Maryville College, Smithee conducts the Maryville College-Community Concert Band.
For the Feb. 17 concert, Smithee will be accompanied by some of the area’s leading jazz talent. Dr. Bill Swann, chair of the College’s Division of Fine Arts and associate professor of music, will perform on piano. He said he considered it “an honor” to perform on Smithee’s last faculty concert.
“Larry has been a great asset to the music department during his two decades of teaching here at MC,” Swann said. “He created the Concert Band and led the music education program expertly. His daily campus practice routine has served to remind and motivate our music students about the importance of maintaining their craft.”
Also accompanying Smithee during the recital will be David Slack, adjunct professor of music, on bass; Martin Whitaker of Knoxville on drums; Kevin Krapf, a senior music major at MC, on Latin percussion; Jeff Jennings on trombone; and Morrie Bowden on clarinet and saxophone. Emily Emadian, a 2009 Maryville College alumna who is now an admissions counselor at MC, will perform as a vocalist.
“Among the advantages of teaching music at Maryville College has been the benefit of the College’s support for personal growth as a musician,” Smithee said. “I am also honored that so many of my musician friends are willing to donate their time and musicianship to this program.”
In an effort to honor the longtime music professor, the College is launching a campaign to raise money for instruments for the Division of Fine Arts.
The most-needed item is a five-octave marimba, which costs about $12,000. Other items include a four-valve tuba, symphonic chimes, a 32-inch gong with stand and a 3.5-octave xylophone. Accessories, such as barchimes and woodblocks are also needed.
“Gifts of any size would be greatly appreciated. The instruments we’re hoping to purchase range in price from $50 to $15,000,” said Bonnie Finn, who is organizing the fundraising effort. Finn, an administrative assistant for the Center for Campus Ministry, is also a Maryville College senior who is pursuing a bachelor of arts in music.
“I wanted to honor Larry because he is a wonderful director, and he has done so much for the MC-Community Concert Band, which he started 20 years ago,” Finn said. “He has given so much of his time to the College, and it would be nice to have his name as a lasting legacy.”
Finn, who has played percussion in the MC-Community Concert Band under Smithee since 2009 and is also Smithee’s advisee, said she and Smithee have discussed the need for new instruments – particularly percussion equipment.
“Most of the percussion instruments are between 15 and 20 years old,” Finn said. “New instruments are needed for the program to grow.”
To make a donation toward the purchase of instruments in honor of Dr. Smithee or to find out more about the campaign, contact Holly Jackson-Sullivan, vice president for advancement and community relations at the College, at 865.273.8884 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state‘s third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for its academic rigor and its focus on the liberal arts, Maryville is where students come to stretch their minds, stretch themselves and learn how to make a difference in the world. Total enrollment for the fall 2012 semester was 1,093.