on a high note
Pre-med student shares his passion for music
student Benjamin Hirsch Levy III knew from the first grade that
he wanted to attend U.Va. What he didnt know is how much
he would love promoting music on Grounds to fellow students and
graduates with a distinguished major in music,
as well as biology,
and receives the Class of 2001 Performing and Creative Arts Award
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.
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.
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
felt I was making a difference in peoples lives, especially
the families, said Levy. I also hoped they would remember
the hospital at U.Va. as a special place.
was only the beginning of Levys 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.
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.
concerts in the series featured the Dzaesmin quartet, an avant
garde jazz group from Bostons Berklee College of Music,
and Masada, a jazz group with Middle Eastern and Israeli influences.
The series was a success.
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.
was a great challenge and learning experience, Levy said.
He thought it would be his last project, but it wasnt.
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 worlds 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.
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.