Lee University To Present Holsinger Tribute Concert April 14

  • Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Dr. David Holsinger
Dr. David Holsinger

Lee University will present “Holsinger Conducts Holsinger,” a concert celebrating Dr. David Holsinger’s career as a composer and conductor, on Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the Conn Center.

The performance marks Dr. Holsinger’s final appearance as conductor of the Lee University Wind Ensemble, ending a quarter-century tenure leading the group. Dr. Holsinger and his wife Winona, who is also an accomplished conductor, created the group in 1999.

The Friday evening program will include an hour of Dr. Holsinger’s band playing his own favorites from the long list of his compositions, interspersed with tributes to his contributions to American band music and his impact on the Lee University School of Music.

“Fantasy on a Gaelic Hymnsong,” “Homage: Tapestry No.3,” and “In Praise of Gentle Pioneers” are just a few of the many pieces composed by Dr. Holsinger that will be performed that evening.

“In the entire hundred years of Lee history, very few individuals have joined our faculty having already established a national reputation at the top of their professions,” said Dr. Paul Conn, university chancellor. “Holsinger definitely did that. When he came to Lee, he raised the level and profile of band music at Lee, and in a significant way put us ‘on the map’ for the whole world of band music.”

By the time he came to Lee, the prolific Dr. Holsinger had seen 58 of his compositions published and performed by bands across the nation. An entire collection of his work was recorded by Mark Recordings of New York in a massive project. On those recordings, his music was played by several outstanding bands, including the Rutgers University Wind Ensemble, the University of Illinois Symphonic Band, and the United States Air Force Band.

"Holsinger’s arrival at Lee brought a new level of expectancy and focus to the instrumental program,” said Dr. Bill Green, dean of Lee’s School of Music. “He pushes our students to higher levels of musicality and personal commitment. He has a passion for them to have an exceptional musical experience.” Over 500 Lee student instrumentalists have played or studied composing and conducting with him.

Several of those 500 students have joined forces with Lee faculty and staff to coordinate this tribute to the Holsingers. The list includes Donald Benton, past president of Eastern Tennessee Band and Orchestra Directors Association; Jim Burton, director of Cleveland High School Band; Joel Denton, president-elect of Tennessee Music Educators Association; Ashley Garner, assistant band director at Bradley Central High School; Ashley McDonald, director of bands at Lake Forrest Middle School; Cara Rodgers, music specialist at Michigan Avenue Elementary School; Brian Shaw, worship arts pastor at Mount Olive Ministries; and Nathaniel Vanoy, Northwest High School Band director.

Dr. Conn is chair of the Steering Committee which is organizing the event, along with co-chair Dr. Mark Bailey, Dr. Holsinger's colleague in the Lee instrumental music program. Bailey credits Dr. Holsinger with "bringing our band program further, faster than anyone else in the country could have done." Bailey's own Symphonic Band often performs Holsinger's compositions.

Dr. Holsinger is a native of Missouri, where he graduated from Central Methodist College in 1967. He served a tour in the United States Army before going on to earn a master’s degree at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. It was there that his gift for writing band music developed, and he began to win prizes for composition. He later earned his doctorate, a DMA in conducting from the University of Kansas, and was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Adolphus College in 1994.

Dr. Holsinger's compositions have been performed by over 50 college and university wind ensembles, along with countless high school bands. The military bands of the United States Air Force, Army, and the Naval Academy have made his work standard repertoire. "His work with high school all-state and honor bands is legendary and has helped to put Lee University on the map in the 34 states where he has been a guest conductor and clinician.”

"We're expecting a big crowd," Dr. Conn said. "I think it will be the top musical event of the year on our campus. This is a marvelous opportunity for families who enjoy band music, or who have kids playing in high school and middle school bands, to hear an exciting hour of terrific music."

This event is free, and open to the public, but tickets are required and are available on eventbrite.com. A reception for all in attendance is planned immediately following the performance, as well as a pizza party for high school and middle school students.

For more information, call the Dixon Center Box Office at 614-8343.

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