UIndy’s Faculty Artist Concert Series opened its 2015–16 season September 21 with a gala performance featuring Raymond Leppard, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra conductor laureate and UIndy artist-in-residence, and the premiere of a composition honoring Indianapolis-based philanthropist and former Board of Trustee member Christel DeHaan. As announced at the 2014 opening gala, which celebrated the Center’s 20th anniversary, the University commissioned a piece honoring DeHaan from Associate Professor John Berners, who teaches composition in UIndy’s Department of Music. Berners describes his new work, Sinfonia, as an “inclusive, celebratory piece” for a small orchestra, which in this case comprised 25 professional musicians from the UIndy faculty and the ISO, some of whom also teach at UIndy. Along with the standard strings, woodwinds, and percussion, the lineup included several instruments that are not typical of a classical orchestra but are specialties for various UIndy faculty members, such as alto saxophone, electric piano, bayan accordion, handbells, and Baroque flute. Styles and moods shift throughout the 10- to 11-minute composition.
“You might call it a musical collage with elements of different styles of music that are represented at UIndy,” Berners says. “The idea is to celebrate the space that we work in and the faculty who perform here.”
Now beginning its 35th season, the Faculty Artist Concert Series is a unique fixture on the central Indiana arts scene, presenting historic and contemporary classical and jazz music free of charge in the elegant and acoustically superior setting of the DeHaan Center’s Ruth Lilly Performance Hall. This year’s 18 concerts, taking place Monday nights from September to April, feature UIndy’s distinguished Department of Music faculty as well as guests drawn from the ranks of local and national professionals.