UR invested Douglas Lowry as the sixth Dean of the Eastman School of Music in Eastman Theatre last Saturday, replacing Jamal Rossi, who served as Interim Dean from April 2006 to July 2007.
The search for a new dean began in spring 2006, shortly after Rossi was named Interim Dean.
After interviewing many candidates, the search committee – led by UR Vice President, General Secretary and Adjunct Professor of Music Paul Burgett and comprising members of all of the Eastman departments and some from the College – narrowed its search to a few final candidates, including Lowry. At that point, however, the committee knew it would choose Lowry.
“It was not a difficult choice to ultimately see that Doug Lowry was the best in a very strong field,” UR President Joel Seligman said. “What particularly impressed me about Doug was his particular seriousness about where music was heading.”
Before coming to Eastman, Lowry was Dean and Thomas James Kelly Professor at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for seven years, and he taught at and was Associate Dean at University of Southern California’s Flora Thornton School of Music during his 20-year tenure in California.
“At Eastman, our mtier is the work of the creative imagination, be it the composer, performer, scholar or teacher,” Lowry said.
According to Lowry, Eastman’s commitment to the many aspects of music, exemplified through its Institute for Music Leadership, allows Eastman students to develop themselves more fully as musicians and instills in them “initiative.”
“If I look through the roster of prominent Eastman alums… it all began with, to be sure, a significant gift of music,” Lowry said. “But what sets these artists apart is initiative.”
Using initiative as his basis, Lowry characterized what he called the “Eastman Advantage.” The Eastman School has established its reputation as an innovator in music, and he insisted that Eastman must be willing to continue to set precedents.
“I will also insist that it is Eastman’s responsibility to create the market – that’s been our storied trademark – and to do this, we must not be averse to risk,” Lowry said.
Lowry’s short-term plans for Eastman will be to execute the school’s “strategic plan” and to finish securing funds for the Eastman Theatre Renovation and Enhancement Project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2009.
As part of his long-term plans, Lowry would like to increase cooperation between Eastman and the River Campus, raise the profile of the school, improve the alumni network and make further curricular changes.
“As we move toward developing a compelling strategic vision, toward empowering the diversified Eastman Advantage, our strategic vision will be rooted firmly in the essential lifeblood of any great music school: its students and its faculty,” Lowry said.
The investiture ceremony featured performances of “SB&G (Semitonal Bump and Grind)” and “TarantellaReel” – two movements from Lowry’s piece, “Scandalous Dances for Clarinet, Piano and String Quartet” – played by graduate student members of the Eastman Chamber Music Society.
“In the end, no matter what our Eastman script, how lucidly and compellingly we write it, how nimbly we produce it, how well we mine the necessary fuels to generate sufficient long-term support to stoke its dreams, it will be about making music matter,” Lowry said.
Also during the ceremony, Grammy Award-winning jazz musician and long-time friend of Eastman Marian McPartland received an honorary degree of Doctor of Music.
The Eastman Jazz Trio played McPartland’s piece, “Ambiance,” before Provost Kuncl delivered the citation for her honorary degree.
McPartland said that she wished to thank the school for her degree by playing the piano. University Grand Marshal Jesse Moore and Lowry helped her walk to the piano.
After the ceremony, when asked what attracted him to Eastman, Lowry cited Eastman’s past accomplishments and potential for further improvement.
“[Eastman] has a worldwide reputation and a long roster of alums that have made immense impact on the world of music,” Lowry said. “Cincinnati was and is a terrific institution, but this was an opportunity I felt I need[ed] to pursue.”
Fleming is a member of the class of 2010.