Guest violinist Robert Simonds performs at UIndy

by Josie Clark | Staff Writer
Published: Last Updated on

Robert Simonds, principal second violin in the Louisville Orchestra, performed on March 17 in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall. The program lasted just over an hour and included 12 songs, most of which were composed within the last decade.

The guest recital contained two pieces about Simonds’ home state of Kentucky: “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” written by Darrell Scott in 1997, and “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” written by Bill Monroe in 1946.

“‘Blue Moon of Kentucky was made famous by Patsy Cline and Elvis Presley,” Simonds said. “There are two songs that will get the people of Kentucky on their feet. ‘Blue Moon’ would bring a tear to their eyes, and ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ would bring a smile ear to ear.”

Many of the newer pieces were pieces that Simonds commissioned composers to write for him, including “I Lost My Life Savings in the Bitcoin Crash of 2014.”

“The piece was composed by Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer, a graduate of Arizona State University who currently resides in Phoenix, Ariz.,” Simonds said.

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Photo Contributed by Peter Nicholas

Simonds contacted Bayer to write a piece for a solo violin. Other pieces composed specifically for Simonds included “Music for Violin,” by Daniel Gilliam, and “Miniature #1 & #2,” by TJ  Cole.

Several other artists had pieces featured in the guest recital. Three songs were composed by Kenji Bunch, an Oregon artist who studied at Julliard. Simonds described Missy Mazzoli, who wrote one of the pieces he performed (“Dissolve, O My Heart”) as “a young American composer standing on the shoulders of Bach.”

Junior biology major Searra Flynn attended the program for Lecture/Performance credit.

“It was nice to hear an individual who was that passionate about not just playing music, but creating it,” Flynn said.

Freshman elementary education major Taylor Smith also attended the recital.

“He used a variety of different styles, and I felt like he really got into it and expressed himself through each piece,” Smith said. “I would love to watch him perform again.”

The last piece was appropriately entitled “Until Next Time.” The piece was written and performed in 2010 by Kenji Bunch.

“I’m not sure where this tune comes from,” Simonds said of the last song in his set, “but it’s a type of American hymn tune . . . . It’s been great playing for you – ‘Until Next Time,’ by Kenji Bunch.”

The next performance in the Christel DeHaan Ruth Lilly Performance Hall is the Student Chamber Ensembles, tonight, April 1 and is scheduled to last from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. This concert is free and is open to the public. For more information, visit the arts page on the UIndy website.

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