School of Music: Out of tune with students

The School of Music Web site has this to say regarding its mission: “Here at the University of Illinois School of Music, the students, the faculty, and the facilities, all come together to develop each individual’s artistic voice.” However, it was the School’s lack of voice in response to an incident at the February 12th Wind Symphony concert that has left students searching for answers.

From the beginning of the concert, it was evident that something was wrong with conductor James Keene. After staggering on stage and pulling himself onto the podium, Keene swayed back and forth and demonstrated a complete lack of coordination, failing to provide any direction for the band. The band eventually fell apart and stopped playing. Keene was then removed from the podium, helped off stage by band staff, and taken to the hospital.

Perhaps what has been more surprising than the event itself is the School of Music’s lack of communication with students regarding the event. To date, there has been no official statement or acknowledgement of this event. If Keene’s behavior was, in fact, the result of a medical condition, as some have rumored, band members deserve to know. However, based on my direct observations, I do not believe his behavior to be the result of a medical condition, rather the result of other behavior to which I will not elaborate. The School’s failure to communicate anything regarding what happened has forced students to speculate. Furthermore, the School’s failure to even acknowledge the event strengthens my belief and puts forth the impression that they would rather sweep the event under the rug than address the issue.

In the future, I hope the School of Music will respond differently by being more forthcoming and honest with their students.

Michael Pantazis

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