May 18-24, 2001
Back Issues
Waters' mission runs deep
Two graduates honored for their service to humanity
Student aids the homeless

Mellon winner redefines "Jim Crow" era

Pre-med student shares his passion for music
Fast-track grad driven to help his family
Student leads effort to install Braille on Lawn room doors
Creative recycling: Students convert crate into studio
Lawson lives richly
Can you go home again? Issues facing international students
Education delayed but not denied
Weaver finds election laws discriminatory
Quilter gets A+
Students to go abroad on Fulbright scholarships
Weddle will research Peruvian women
Graduate rich in lessons learned
Anthony defender of public good
Affinnih plays her cards strategically
After earning degree in two years, graduate going for two more
Student develops new sign language system
Student trio pushes for late-night joe
Benjamin Levy
Stephanie Gross
Benjamin Levy

Leaving on a high note
Pre-med student shares his passion for music

By Jane Ford

Pre-med student Benjamin Hirsch Levy III knew from the first grade that he wanted to attend U.Va. What he didn’t know is how much he would love promoting music on Grounds to fellow students and the community.

He graduates with a distinguished major in music, as well as biology, and receives the Class of 2001 Performing and Creative Arts Award this year.

A third-generation Wahoo — his grandfather and father graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1932 and 1970, respectively — Levy learned to appreciate music and support the arts growing up in Savannah, Ga. Encouraged to learn an instrument, first the piano and then the cello and attend concerts, from classical to jazz, Levy also witnessed the behiSnd-the-scenes activities at these events. His father was on the board of the Savannah Symphony for many years, and his mother was recently appointed to the board.

He hung out with musicians and absorbed their passion for music and for the pieces they played. At U.Va., where there are often three or four concerts on Grounds each weekend, Levy found opportunities to pass on that infectious enthusiasm for music.

As a first-year student, he volunteered at the U.Va. Medical Center and encouraged doctors and nurses to attend concerts. Sometimes he brought his cello to the hospital and played for patients and their families.

“I felt I was making a difference in people’s lives, especially the families,” said Levy. “I also hoped they would remember the hospital at U.Va. as a special place.”

This was only the beginning of Levy’s quest to promote the arts on Grounds. He also saw his activities as a way to further the understanding of music, which breaks down many barriers, he said.

He combined his love of music with his Jewish heritage and, in the spring of his second year, created a Jewish Concert Series sponsored by the Hillel Jewish Center. The first concert, “Jazz Sabbath,” featured new arrangements of traditional Sabbath music performed by U.Va.’s faculty jazz ensemble, Free Bridge Quintet.

ther concerts in the series featured the Dzaesmin quartet, an avant garde jazz group from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and Masada, a jazz group with Middle Eastern and Israeli influences. The series was a success.

In his third year, Levy raised more than $30,000 to bring world-renowned pianist Andre Watts to perform in Old Cabell Hall. The concert sold out three days before the performance and Watts played to a standing-room-only crowd.

“It was a great challenge and learning experience,” Levy said. He thought it would be his last project, but it wasn’t.

His distinguished music major project took on a life of its own and grew from a paper to a two-day event, “Music Suppressed by the Third Reich,” an international conference held in March. Levy raised more than $40,000 and recruited 70 student volunteers to help with conference logistics. Some of the world’s most renowned Holocaust music researchers and performers gathered to explore the music banned by the Nazis before and during World War II. The conference concluded with a gala concert featuring music that had premiered behind barbed-wire fences to audiences in concentration camps, as well as compositions labeled “degenerate” by the Third Reich.

Levy hopes to work on the administration side of a symphony orchestra before attending medical school and plans to continue his way of giving back to the University, by raising money for the arts as an alumnus.



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