A musical farewell to Gary Green is among the rich plethora of April UM Frost events

By Lawrence Budmen

Gary Green xxx

Gary Green, who is retiring from the UM Frost School of Music, will be feted with a farewell concert of new works written in his honor April 26.

Contemporary music takes center stage at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music in the final month of the school season with a series of upcoming concerts and a free opera performance. Gary Green, director of the Frost Wind Ensemble and chair of musical performance, is retiring and his farewell concert on April 26—appropriately titled “A Joyful Celebration”—will feature no less than four world premieres.

Since his arrival at the Coral Gables campus 22 years ago, Green has been an enthusiastic champion of contemporary composers. and his efforts have significantly enlarged the wind band repertoire. Green has commissioned forty works and taken part in over 50 consortium commissions in which UM participated with other universities’ music schools. (This school term alone Green has premiered works by Scott Stinson, Paul Dooley and Joel Puckett.)

“I have enjoyed nearly every moment teaching at conducting at the Frost School of Music,” said Green. “This has been a gift.”

When he first joined the UM faculty in 1993, there was no formal wind ensemble program and it was sometimes difficult in those early days to interest students in playing the wind band repertoire. Even then, however, he found that his players had tremendous passion for music making and many of those students are now teaching and playing in ensembles.

“The wind ensemble program has gone through a maturing process, enabling the performance of more complex scores that may not have been possible some years before,” said Green. With the program now firmly established, he has found rehearsing new and challenging scores “exciting and invigorating.”

Green’s colleagues voice great respect for his accomplishments and dedication. Frost School of Music Dean Shelly Berg says Green is “a champion of contemporary music, beauty and student achievement. We will replace him but he is irreplaceable.”

“Gary is an exceptional human being, musician and teacher,” says friend Thomas Sleeper, conductor of the Frost Symphony Orchestra. Sleeper joined the Frost faculty the same year as Green and says his colleague has “brought the wind program up to an international level” while keeping the students’ educational experience as the paramount goal.

Gary Green, who is retiring from the UM Frost School of Music, will be feted with a  farewell concert April 27.

For Green’s farewell program, Sleeper has composed his Chamber Symphony No. 5. The work is scored  for string quartet, woodwind quintet, piano and winds which will allow several members of the Frost faculty to play with Green at this special event. Sleeper wants the score “to be our tribute to Gary rather than mine alone.” Green calls Sleeper’s symphony “a terrific piece with a deeply searching, angst-ridden first movement.”  Green also noted that the fast finale relates to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, a work he has conducted at the school.

Two of the other new scores are by composers who have special resonance for Green. Soon after he began teaching at UM, former music school Dean William Hipp decided to commission original works for each of the school’s resident ensembles. Among them was Michael Colgrass’s Urban Requiem, which has since achieved repertoire status, receiving many performances around the globe.

Green has put together a consortium of five commissioning schools for the premiere of a new work, Colgrass’s Urban Nocturnes, bringing him full circle back to the creator of his first Miami commission.

Composer David Maslanka has enjoyed a decades-long relationship with Green as a friend and working partner, ever since Green led a performance of Maslanka’s A Child’s Garden of Dreams. Along with Ingolf Fahl’s Sinfonietta for Concert Band, Green regards his experience performing Maslanka’s score as the catalyst for his desire to expand the available repertoire for wind ensemble.

Green became a fervent champion of Maslanka’s music and, by the composer’s count, has conducted eleven of his scores, two of which he commissioned.  In an e-mail, Maslanka says his friend “has a great heart and love for young people.”

Maslanka’s newest work, Hosannas has seven brief movements. The composer notes that the title means “shout for joy”  and an awareness of the divine nature of everything.  The composer describes the score as “a prayer for joy and the ability to be thankful” with sections that range from quiet and interior to exuberantly energetic. “Gary and I are both past the age of 70, and each of us has a clear sense that every mood and attitude can be one of praise.”

Looking back on his years of rehearsing and performing new music, Green finds it intriguing that he “can go about continually learning more about music.” Maslanka posits that Green may be retiring from Miami but his career is far from over.  Reflecting on the future, Green notes that every point in his career when something unknown brings a challenge, there is hope that it will bring joy. He is deeply grateful to the school of music, patrons and contributors and his students whose gifts have helped to commission the new scores for his farewell.


While the premieres on Green’s program comprise the most new music on a single concert, two other events on UM Frost’s end-of-school-year performance calendar are equally noteworthy.

On Saturday, March 18, Sleeper conducts the Frost Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Elegy, Soliloquy and Epilogue for flute and orchestra. Sleeper saved up his orchestral budget for the past five years in order to set up a consortium of 11 universities and conservatories to commission Zwilich, a Miami native and Pulitzer Prize winner, to write a work for faculty member Trudy Kane, former principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He praises Zwilich’s “exquisite string writing full of passion from the first note” and brilliant scoring for solo flute. The concert will also include the American premiere of Rashid Kalimulin’s Symphonic Fresco, plus familiar works by Tchaikovsky and Elgar.

The enterprising Frost Opera Theater under the artistic direction of Alan Johnson will present a free concert performance of Michael Dellaira’s 2003 opera The Death of Webern on April 23. Five months after the end of World War II, Austrian composer Anton Webern, a disciple of Arnold Schoenberg, was shot and killed by an American soldier. The opera delves into the mystery surrounding the incident through the research of musicologist Hans Moldenhauer and Webern’s own lectures. Members of the Frost vocal faculty, students and alumni will take part in the performance.

Thomas Sleeper conducts the Frost Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Rashid Kalimulin’s Symphonic Fresco and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Elegy, Soliloquy and Epilogue with flute soloist Trudy Kane. 8 p.m. Saturday April 18 at UM Gusman Concert Hall.

The Frost Opera Theater presents Michael Dellaira’s The Death of Webern 7:30 p.m. April 23 at UM Clarke Recital Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.

Gary Green conducts the Frost Wind Ensemble in Thomas Sleeper’s Chamber Symphony No. 5, Michael Colgrass’ Urban Nocturnes, David Maslanka’s Hosannas and Mason Bates’ Side Man with percussion soloist Svet Stoyanov. 4 p.m. April 26 at UM Gusman Concert Hall.  music.miami.edu

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15 Responses to “A musical farewell to Gary Green is among the rich plethora of April UM Frost events”

  1. Posted Apr 14, 2015 at 6:57 pm by Thomas Sleeper

    As Director of Bands, Gary Green brought the wind programs up to a level of international recognition. Gary has championed new repertoire (and continues to do so), recorded important works for major labels and done everything with the student’s educational experience in mind. His reach is school-wide – Gary has conducted chamber groups, faculty ensembles and the Frost Symphony on numerous occasions. In addition, Gary was one of those very rare administrators (Department Chair in Instrumental Musical Performance) whose focus was always on track and found his mission to be helping others. Gary is a consensus builder, compassionate person with great values – an exceptional human being, musician and teacher and continues to impact music and future musicians in the most positive of ways.

  2. Posted Apr 15, 2015 at 7:53 am by Richard M. Chiappetta

    Gary Green had a profound effect on all of the Connecticut band directors (especially high school) when he was at UCONN. I thank him for his friendship and I thank him for changing my life. We all wish him well and much golf in the coming years! Richard M. Chiappetta

  3. Posted Apr 15, 2015 at 4:11 pm by Ellis O Paschal

    Congratulations on all of your achievements. You are a wonderful and dear friend. My family miss u. I am retired and living in North Las Vegas,Nv . I am so glad that you had the opportunity to meet out son, Brett this past month.
    Congratulations on your retirement. Your former school mate. Ellis

  4. Posted Apr 15, 2015 at 7:13 pm by Fred Balmages

    Gary, Thank you for your influence on the Balmages family. I know that you will be missed,

  5. Posted Apr 15, 2015 at 11:57 pm by Dave Phifer

    Congratulations on your retirement. Your influence and leadership has been felt by many. From Connecticut, to the Pacific Northwest (Spokane), and to Florida you have blessed many with the gift of music and respect for one another.

    All the best,


  6. Posted Apr 16, 2015 at 8:52 am by Jeff long

    I’m so thankful that you took me on as a student teacher. My career has been very rewarding, largely due the jump start you gave me. (I’m on tour with my band right now!) congratulations and THANK YOU!

  7. Posted Apr 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm by Mike Cousins


    When you taught at University High School, you were one of my biggest inspirations. I would not have continued with band were it not for you and your persistence and passion. I am not at all surprised with all you have accomplished, and all the lives you touched in your time after Spokane WA. A truly heartfelt thank you and congratulations.

  8. Posted Apr 16, 2015 at 8:54 pm by LeRoy anderson

    Congratulations.Now you can go to Fairfield and catch trout.

  9. Posted Apr 17, 2015 at 9:00 am by Cindy George

    I will always remember with fond memories the times we worked together as you conducted Bands of America’s Honor Band. As special thank you for your support of Ryan’s compositions throughout the years. You are a treasure to the young musicians you touch with you enthusiasm and caring heart. Congratulations on your retirement.

  10. Posted Apr 21, 2015 at 12:43 am by Dee

    Mr. Green Congrats on your retirement!
    Darlene Senese 1983, University High School

  11. Posted May 20, 2015 at 11:09 pm by Alice Polignoni

    Congratulations Mr. Green on your retirement! You will always have a special place in my heart!!!

  12. Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:30 am by Chris Gray

    Congratulations on your retirement!!! Remember fondly your leadership and passion for musical direction at University High School, and our becoming the Bands of America national champions in the summer of 1983!!! Best wishes for a healthy and golf-filled retirement! 🙂

  13. Posted May 29, 2015 at 11:16 pm by James p Frazier

    as a loyal member of the greater Miami symphonic band I highly respected Gary green he will continue to be the music director of the greater Miami symphonic band as Bob hope would say “thanks for the memories”! God bless you Gary green. sincerely James tuba hero Frazier.

  14. Posted May 14, 2016 at 11:55 pm by Albert guastafeste

    Congratulations Gary on your retirement.I’ve grown to admire and respect you as fellow musician conductor educator.will your duties as director of greater Miami symphonic band also ceasr.

  15. Posted Jun 01, 2016 at 10:01 pm by Martin S. Kluger

    I encountered Gary Green in 1986 when he was directing the University of Connecticut wind ensemble and had the distinct pleasure of performing a percussion concerto under his baton. Years later I returned and took in his performance with the CT All-State winds, an impressive experience I carry with me to this day. Let it be known to all, Gary Green is an inspirational musician! Whomever reads this,
    I wish to reach Gary and would appreciate any help in obtaining his contact information, thanks!
    Martin Kluger, Timpanist, Springfield (MA) Symphony Orchestra; Research Scientist, Yale School of Medicine

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Tue Apr 14, 2015
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