Mississippi Governor Proclaims April 9 as ‘Bruce Levingston Day’

UM artist-in-residence to celebrate honor with concert at Carnegie Hall

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has proclaimed April 9, 2018, as ‘Bruce Levingston Day’ in Mississippi. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – As a result of his celebrated performances in some of the world’s most renowned concert halls, his series of critically-acclaimed albums and a lifelong commitment as a supporter of the arts, Delta-born classical pianist Bruce Levingston has enhanced Mississippi’s international reputation as a cultural center.

In recognition of Levingston’s artistic contributions to the culture and people of the state, Gov. Phil Bryant has proclaimed April 9, 2018, as “Bruce Levingston Day” in Mississippi.

“Bruce Levingston has been our greatest ambassador for the arts in Mississippi,” Bryant said. “He has reached the pinnacle of the classical music world and has represented the best of Mississippi all over the globe. I am honored to recognize Bruce’s many achievements with this deserving proclamation.”

Levingston, the Chancellor’s Artist-in-Residence of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi and the inaugural holder of the university’s Lester Glenn Fant Chair, will observe the day with a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

This April 9 concert will feature Levingston performing the world premiere of new works of music he commissioned in honor of the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Mississippi Museum of History and in celebration of the state’s bicentennial. He introduced a brief portion of this music last month when he performed at an opening ceremony for the two new museums in Jackson.

“I am humbled and touched by this honor,” Levingston said. “I love my home state of Mississippi and I am moved beyond words to be recognized in such a way. I want to thank Gov. Bryant and the wonderful people of our state for their longtime support of our work in the arts.

“I am grateful to have been born in a place so rich in cultural history that produced writers like William Faulkner and Eudora Welty, musicians like Leontyne Price, Muddy Waters and B.B. King, and painters like Theora Hamblett and Marie Hull.”

The announcement about the “Bruce Levingston Day” proclamation comes as Levingston releases his seventh solo album, “Windows.” Levingston’s focus for this recording, available Friday (Jan. 26), is on works which, he writes, “reflect a myriad of overlapping artistic influences” and feature compositions that are influenced by painting, poetry and nature.

On the same day the album is released, tickets go on sale for Levingston’s Carnegie Hall concert. Centerpieces of the concert will include the world premiere performances of the new works celebrating the bicentennial of Mississippi by composers David T. Little and Mississippi-born Price Walden.

These upcoming projects are among the latest highlights of Levingston’s multifaceted career that already contains numerous accomplishments, many of which are mentioned in the governor’s proclamation.

For instance, the proclamation notes that while he was born in Greenville and raised in Cleveland, Levingston studied at notable universities in the United States as well as in Sion, Switzerland, and The Royal Conservatory of Toronto as a Rotary International Fellow. He regularly performs in prestigious venues such as the Royal Opera House of London, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the United Nations in New York, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Teatro Reggio in Italy, Teatro del Lago in Chile, Theatre de Croissette in Cannes, France, and in music festivals throughout the world.

Even though Levingston’s artistic abilities have taken him around the world and earned him international acclaim, he continues to devote much of his time, energy and talent to promoting the culture and people of Mississippi.

He is the author of “Bright Fields,” the biography and survey of the works of famed Mississippi artist Marie Hull, and he served as the curator of the largest exhibition ever assembled of Hull’s works at the Mississippi Museum of Art. He received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2006 and was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2017.

Despite an intense schedule, Levingston continues to perform throughout the state, including giving a concert in Tupelo earlier this week. As the Honors College artist-in-residence and Fant chair, he teaches seminars and classes at Ole Miss, mentors numerous students and plays an instrumental role in bringing prominent guest speakers and performers to campus.

Eleanor Anthony, an Honors College graduate who is finishing her law degree at Stanford University School of Law, said of her experience as Levingston’s student:

“Bruce has been an invaluable mentor to me and countless other Mississippi students. His unique perspective, incredible talent and dedication to teaching are outstanding, as is his commitment to introducing students to some of the most important artists, thinkers and leaders today. Whether Bruce is on a stage or in the classroom, he remains an advocate for his students, sharing his successes with them as he empowers them to seek their own.”

Designating April 9 as “Bruce Levingston Day” is a well-deserved honor for someone so devoted to his home state and Ole Miss, Chancellor Jeffery Vitter said.

“This proclamation is an outstanding way to recognize and honor Bruce for his phenomenal talent and steadfast commitment to raising the profile of the arts in Mississippi,” Vitter said. “We are particularly grateful that Bruce is a vital member of our University of Mississippi community.

“Beyond his tremendous stature as an internationally-renowned artist, he is also well known for excellence in teaching and for the exceptional opportunities he brings to our community and state. This distinction is further recognition that Bruce’s name is rightfully included among the cultural greats of Mississippi and our nation.” 

For more information about the April 9 concert at Carnegie Hall, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2018/04/09/bruce-levingston-0730pm. For more information about Levingston’s latest album, visit http://www.brucelevingston.com/news/.