U.Va. on a High Note
Levy III Shares His Passion For Music
May 9, 2001--
Pre-med and distinguished music
major Benjamin Hirsch Levy III has two passions -- music and the
University of Virginia. His grandfather and father graduated from
the College of
Arts and Sciences, in 1932 and 1970 respectively. Levy knew
he wanted to attend U.Va. since first grade.
he didn't know is how much he would love promoting arts on Grounds
and introducing fellow students and the community to the music he
Valediction, Levy will receive the Class of 2001 Performing and
Creative Arts Award.
learned to appreciate music and give to 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 behind-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 learned as much as he could about their passion
for music and for the pieces they played.
when the musicians shared with him, Levy passed on that infectious
enthusiasm for music at U.Va.
a first-year pre-med student, Levy volunteered at the U.Va. Medical
Center and encouraged doctors and nurses to attend one of the three
or four concerts on Grounds each weekend. 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."
was only the beginning of Levy's quest to promote the arts on Grounds.
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
jazz arrangements of traditional Sabbath music performed by U.Va.'s
faculty jazz ensemble, Free Bridge Quintet. Other concerts in the
series included the Dzaesmin quartet, an avant garde jazz group
from Boston's Berklee College of Music and a concert by Masada,
a jazz group with Middle Eastern and Israeli influences. The series
was a success.
says understanding music breaks down many barriers, and it's important
to introduce students to music and to excite them about the arts
so they will support the arts all their lives.
his third year, Levy began raising funds to bring world-renowned
pianist Andre Watts to perform in Old Cabell Hall. "It was fun.
I wanted to make it as big as I possibly could," said Levy. He thought
this would be his last project.
raised more than $30,000 and recruited friends to help promote the
event. 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.
this wasn't his last big project. Levy's 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 International Conference."
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. The
conference was a resounding success.
hopes to work on the administration side of a symphony orchestra
before attending medical school and plans to give back to the university
by raising money for the arts as an alumnus. "U.Va. is so special,"
said Levy. "Students want to give back to the University because
it makes them happy."
Jane Ford, (804) 924-4298