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Frank Ezra Levy Appointed as First Composer-in-Residence at Kean University

UNION, N.J. -- Dr. Anthony Scelba, director of the Concert Artist Program in the Department of Music at Kean University, has announced the appointment of the program’s first Composer-in-Residence. Frank Ezra Levy will serve in this capacity during the 2008-2009 concert season. He will compose at least two new works for Concert Artist chamber ensembles that will debut in Kean’s new chamber music recital hall on the East Campus, currently under construction.

Born in Paris, France, the son of the distinguished Swiss composer- pianist Ernst Levy, Frank Levy came to the United States with his mother and brother just before the outbreak of World War II in the summer of 1939. Levy became a U.S. citizen in 1955. He was a cellist with the Feldman Chamber Ensemble in Norfolk, Va. Levy’s musical education started at age 10 when he began studying the cello. In 1942, he began studying theory and composition with Hugo Kauder, with whom he continued to study until 1951. From 1948-51, he attended The Juilliard School of Music, where he studied cello with Leonard Rose.

After obtaining his B.S. degree from Juilliard, he attended the University of Chicago majoring in musicology and received his M.A. in 1954. While in Chicago, he continued his cello studies with Janos Starker. From the time he left Chicago, Levy has earned his living as a professional cellist while continuing to compose, having performed with major orchestras and chamber ensembles. To date, he has more than 100 published works to his credit, including four symphonies, vocal music and a large variety of chamber works. Levy now resides with his wife in Fort Lee, N.J.

Levy has already established a connection with Kean as he has been an honored guest of Dr. Mathew Halper on his Ars Vitalis: The New Jersey New Music Forum. He has composed works for a number of Kean’s concert artists including violist Brett Deubner, guitarist Christopher Kenniff, and soprano Katherine Harris; his Sonata Ricercare for Viola and Piano was given its first performance in Kean Hall by Concert Artists Brett Deubner and Allison Brewster Franzetti on a Concert Artist recital on December 11.

“When the idea of creating the position of Concert Artist Composer in Residence first surfaced, Frank Levy was the obvious choice,” said Scelba. “His music is wonderful, and even at first hearing enjoyable to our audiences. The concert artists who know Levy’s work are delighted. I believe we are making a bold statement that Kean’s School of Visual and Performing Arts is here to make an impact on the arts and culture scene in New Jersey.” Four of Levy’s orchestral works, including his Second Cello Concerto, recorded by the Irish National Orchestra for Naxos Records, were released in 2005 on the American Masters series of Naxos. In his review of the CD, Robert R. Reilly, wrote in Crisis Magazine: “The American Classics series contains some real surprises. This music is receiving an overdue hearing in these excellent performances by the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, with cellist Scott Ballantyne, under Takuo Yuasa.” (http://www.crisismagazine.com/april2006/music.htm). This recording is available to the Kean University community through the Nancy Thompson Library online database, Naxos Music Library.