In 2013, concert pianist Bruce Levingston, who was serving as the chancellor’s special adviser on the arts, was approached by University of Mississippi administrators to develop a program in which Ole Miss students would experience the art of classical music. In 2014 this became the Artist-in-Residence position, created within the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College thanks to leadership from Chancellor Dan Jones, Provost Morris Stocks and Honors College Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez and a generous denowment from Lester "Ruff" Fant of Washington, D.C. throught the Lester G. Fant III Charitable Lead Annuity Trust.
Levingston was offered the first residency, and accepted.
Throughout the year, Levingston has invited students to attend his performances around the country to get a behind-the-scenes look at how concerts are staged, to meet key players at each venue and to act as ambassadors for the university in each city.
Some students were even asked to participate in some of Levingston’s performances. Students Clarissa Brumley and Richard Culpepper both performed with Levingston in front of local schoolchildren in Lexington, Miss. The Ole Miss musicians played their instruments, trumpet and piano, respectively, and answered questions from the enthusiastic crowd.
Students also performed with Levingston at Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s event touting 2014 as the “The Year of the Creative Economy” at Power APAC Elementary in Jackson, attended a performance at the Governor’s Mansion and visited Levingston in New York, where he invited them to his concert at Carnegie Hall.
Students also got to join Levingston as he played piano for the Boston Ballet premiere of “Close to Chuck.” Katie Shuford and Kate Prendergast ventured backstage to meet dancers, choreographers and other members of the Boston Ballet creative team. Shuford and Prendergast also visited the Boston Ballet School to see how the school was run and meet with the physical therapist who treats the dancers.
See clips from these events, interviews with students and more in the video below: