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LEWISBURG, Pa. – "Bucknell Fantasy," a new musical work by music professor Jackson Hill that celebrates Bucknell University's musical tradition, will debut May 18 at this year's commencement ceremony.
The eight-minute work for band, commissioned on behalf of the University by William Kenny, associate dean of faculty at Bucknell, will be played in a Commencement Concert by the Penn Central Wind Band at 9:15 a.m. -- prior to the 10 a.m. start of University's 158th commencement exercises on the Academic Quadrangle. || More commencement info || Commencement speaker Charles Simic
"Jackson's piece is not simply a medley of Bucknell songs," said Kenny, who will conduct the premiere. "It's a fantasy on our musical history and tradition. It promises to be a wonderfully fun, inventive, and stirring piece." || Audio: Jackson Hill in his own words
"Jackson Hill's piece is not simply a medley of Bucknell songs. It's a fantasy on our musical history and tradition. It promises to be a wonderfully fun, inventive, and stirring piece." - William Kenny, associate dean of faculty
Kenny said the idea for commissioning this work came while reflecting on his time as a graduate student at the University of Illinois, where, as a member of the symphonic band, he performed the "Illini Fantasy," a composition that gave a symphonic treatment to the rich musical heritage of that university.
"I knew that Bucknell also had many great songs and I thought that these songs would provide excellent material for a similarly-styled symphonic treatment," he said. "With his nearly 40 years of teaching at Bucknell, I thought that my colleague, Jackson Hill, would enjoy the challenge of selecting the material and creating something that could be enjoyed by Bucknellians past, present, and future."
The new work incorporates settings of "'Ray, Bucknell"; "Play Up, Bison"; "Go Bison"; "Shall We Gather at the River"; "Dear Bucknell"; and Hill's own "Baccalaureate Hymn," which was written in the 1970s as a possible replacement for the Alma Mater.
Some of the musical settings reach back to the University's earliest days. "Dear Bucknell," which remains the Alma Mater, was written in 1897 by S.S. Merriman, Class of 1886. "Shall We Gather at the River" was written in 1864 by another Bucknell alumnus, the famous composer Robert Lowry, Class of 1854.
Hill is a prolific composer whose works have been recorded by world-class performers. He was nominated for a Grammy in 2004 in the classical music crossover category for "Voices of Autumn."
"I believe that most Bucknell students and alumni know two Bucknell songs at some level -- ''Ray Bucknell' and, perhaps, our Alma Mater, 'Dear Bucknell,'" said Kenny. "But we do have a historical tradition of other great Bucknell songs that merits revisiting, and I think students and alumni will enjoy reconnecting with our musical heritage in this unique way."
Kenny, also a professor of music at Bucknell, said he hopes to program "Bucknell Fantasy" as a regular part of the symphonic band's repertoire. He said he plans to record the work this fall.
Additional works on the Commencement Concert include "Toward a New Life" by Josef Suk, "Academic Festival Overture" by Johannes Brahms, and additional pieces having an academic or celebratory theme.
The Penn Central Wind Band is an all-volunteer professional-level ensemble sponsored by Bucknell and comprising about 40 musicians.
Contact: Division of Communications
Posted April 30, 2008