Music letter shows cowardice

By Ralph J. Petrella

Mr. Pantazis:

I must take issue with your willingness to be guided by conjecture and third person observation in this matter (“School of Music: Out of tune with students,” March 27). Having no true knowledge of the situation or its circumstances, you have chosen to use rumor as the basis for an extremely personal attack on a man with whom I am guessing you have very little to no individual contact with. And then you show even more cowardice by not being forthright enough to actually name your accusation. This is a tactic of rumor mongering at best and public slander at worst.

I hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education, both from the University of Illinois, and have worked with Mr. Keene directly over the last three years in his conducting classes and as a Graduate Assistant with the Marching Illini. Mr. Keene himself would tell you that we did not always see eye to eye, but I can tell you from my first person interactions that your accusation could not be further from the truth. Those who have led you to believe what you so casually throw around as fact have done you a great disservice, only made worse by your baseless accusations.

Lastly, the details of anyone’s personal medical conditions are not a matter of public record. The School of Music owes you nothing more than “Mr. Keene is ill and will not be able to complete the concert. We apologize for the trouble.” Had the man suffered a heart attack and passed away, how low would you feel having assumed something as you have? And would you like the details of every visit to the hospital you make for the rest of your life to be a matter of public scrutiny? I should think not.

Mr. Keene has served the University of Illinois well for the last 22 years and will retire at the end of this semester as only the fourth Director of Bands in the school’s history. He has continued to bring cutting edge performance opportunities to his students and has gained further renown for the University worldwide. Let us remember his legacy with his factual achievements, not with false insinuations.

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    Ralph J. Petrella