Acclaimed concert pianist performs for students in Como 4/25/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2014

University of Mississippi artist-in-residence Bruce Levingston played Chopin and Sousa for students at Como Elementary and Junior High on Wednesday. The Panolian photo by John Howell

Acclaimed concert pianist performs for students in Como

By John Howell
Students at Como Elementary and Como Jr. High got to hear concert pianist Bruce Levingston Wednesday. And to watch, to watch as his hands leaped about the keyboard of a Steinway concert grand piano brought to the middle of the gymnasium floor especially for his performance.

Levingston is artist-in-residence at the University of Mississippi, affiliated with the university’s music department and the UM Honors College. An internationally acclaimed musician whose performances have been broadcast internationally on radio and television, Levingston has performed at the United Nations and published recordings on CDs to critical acclaim.

But Wednesday, Levingston shared the energy that drives his trained and talented fingers into helping his youthful audience understand and enjoy what they were hearing.

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“When I was a youngster in Cleveland, I heard a great pianist with the Memphis Symphony — in a gymnasium,” Levingston said as he waited for the second group of students to file into the gymnasium. The Delta native who began piano lessons when he was four years old is a graduate of the University of Texas and now a resident of New York and Oxford. A recent concert packed Carnegie Hall and brought three standing ovations.

At his Como concert Wednesday, students learned about standing ovations as well. Widely known as an encourager of young composers and music students, Levingston demonstrated the changes in sounds created when his foot pressed the pedals while his fingers struck the keys.
He explained as he played them what the notes and rhythms represented as he performed works of Chopin, Philip Glass and John Phillip Sousa, among others.

“The kids are just wonderful,” Levingston said. “They have great questions.”

The renowned musician also said that during his travels through Panola County, he had discovered the unique fife and drum music of Otha Turner.