May 15, 2015 — Coral Gables, Fla. — Professor of Music Gary Green, who served on the University of Miami Frost School of Music faculty as director of bands for 22 years and led the Frost Wind Ensemble to international prominence, is retiring at the end of May, 2015. Professor Green was also the recipient of the 2002 Phillip Frost Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship, and served as chair of the Department of Instrumental Performance for 18 years during his tenure at the university.
He received a special commendation for his outstanding service and leadership from UM President Donna E. Shalala and Provost Thomas J. Leblanc during the University of Miami’s 2015 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on May 8.
(Watch archived video here, at approximately 58 minutes.)
During his career, Green became known for championing new music for wind band, commissioning and performing some of the most prominent literature in his field, and mentoring scores of talented graduate students. Green conducted a celebratory concert on April 26, where he premiered four new works by renowned composers Mason Bates, Michael Colgrass, David Maslanka, and Thomas Sleeper to critical acclaim. Gusman Concert Hall was filled to capacity with his former teaching assistants, former wind ensemble students, faculty, concert patrons, friends and family.
“When you believe in something, you champion it with all you have,” says Green who grew up in a small Oklahoma town. His early musical interests were stirred by Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and reinforced by the “unbridled love that the musicians in my rural community had for performing gospel and country songs in their homes, the campgrounds, and revival meetings. It was really blazing!”
In high school Green studied under the All-State baton of Melvin Lee, who also played French horn in the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Green served as director of bands at University High School in Spokane, Washington, and at the University of Connecticut before coming to UM, where he brought the wind bands program to prominence and solidified his iconic reputation in the field.
“I’ve known Gary for over 30 years. Everywhere Gary has been, he has left that place better than he arrived,” says Michael Mann, M.M.’82, director of the Frost Band of the Hour from 1990 to 2000.
Accolades also rolled in from numerous former students who are now teaching and directing top wind bands throughout the world.
“Mr. Green’s commitment to great music, art, joy, and LIFE is what inspires me still. Mr. Green is an icon in our field, recognized for not only his musical excellence, but his world class humanity…simply put, HE has been a life-changer,” says Dan Belongia, B.M. ’96, M.M. ’04, Associate Professor of Music, Illinois State University.
“One of Professor Gary Green's greatest gifts as a teacher and musician is that of personal investment,” says Francesca Aranone, D.M.A. ’00, now assistant professor of flute at Baylor University. “Although perhaps one of the busiest people on campus, he always made time for his students, tirelessly modeling a life devoted to musical connection among people. Always looking for new sounds and sources of inspiration, barely a rehearsal went by without his suggesting works for us to investigate, scores to explore, and books to read.”
Shawn Vondran, D.M.A. ’09, associate director of bands at Northwestern University comments, “Green’s commitment to championing new music, and encouraging the brightest talents in music to aspire to create great art is unmatched. “He is the one in the room pushing people to think differently about the world around them, challenging their pre-conceived notions about art and life, and demonstrating by his actions, rather than words, that one person can make a giant impact in the lives of those we are fortunate to meet along the way.”
Recent alumnus Douglas L. Phillips, D.M.A. ’12, who is now director of bands and assistant professor of conducting at Stetson University, concludes that Professor Green has “consistently demonstrated that the driving force behind his passion for ‘band music’ was not ‘band,’ but rather ‘music.’ It is all about the literature.”
Green approached his retirement as if he were inaugurating a new musical score—with focus on “transformation, reinvention, and maintaining an open heart and mind.” His future goals include time with his wife Peggy, an elementary school teacher, and their two young grandchildren. He plans to continue working with educators and students and is booked for many years ahead as a guest conductor.
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