A Tribute to Lawrence Davis: A Decade Since His Enduring Musical Legacy
Today, as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of our beloved former Executive Director, Lawrence Davis, we reflect not only on his incredible contributions to our institution but also on the profound impact he left on each one of us. As we remember Lawrence on this day, we also celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our esteemed Bloomingdale School of Music, a poignant reminder of the incredible journey we’ve embarked upon together.
Lawrence Davis was a native of Western Pennsylvania and graduated magna cum laude from the Hartt School of Music. He served as Executive Director of Bloomingdale for 22 years. “His talents and generosity knew no bounds, and his passion, devotion, creativity, and spirit will reside at the school forever.” Thousands benefited from Lawrence’s vision to bring “music to all”.
In addition to being an extraordinary Executive Director, Lawrence was renowned for his work as a conductor, leading ensembles such as the Plainville Community Chorus, the Suffield Chamber Orchestra, and the Danbury Chamber Orchestra. As a composer, he created notable works like a theater piece based on Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last on the Dooryard Bloomed” and “Re:Joyce,” a song cycle featuring texts by James Joyce. His versatility in composing shone in works such as “A Hymn of God and Children,” blending recorder, violin, cello, and organ. His career included roles as Executive Director at the Wooster Community Arts Center in Danbury, Connecticut, and Managing Director at the ZeroMoving Dance Company in Philadelphia. Lawrence Davis’s profound contributions to the arts will be remembered for generations.
Lawrence left an indelible mark on the Bloomingdale community throughout his 22 years of service to the school. The numerous stories shared by our community members and colleagues bear testament to Lawrence’s multifaceted persona, as a visionary leader, an inspiring mentor, and, above all, a compassionate friend. Through these heartfelt anecdotes, we uncover the essence of a man who dedicated his life to nurturing the spirit of music and fostering a community of creativity and growth.
Lawrence’s open-door policy and engaging demeanor left a mark on many, as one faculty member reflects:
“The Open Door. When I think of Lawrence, I often think of his office door. When it was open, I would often stick my head in and say hello and ask how he was doing. He always looked up and gave me time. This often led to some fun and interesting conversations. His openness, his robust laugh, his witticisms, all of it was like oxygen during a busy day. I felt like he was always living in his vision for the school and for his profoundly creative ideas. It was great to have a share in that and to articulate my own visions with him. I always left these open door chats energized and motivated. That spirit has never left me. Onward!”
A former student reminisces:
“Lawrence was my theory/ear training teacher while I was in the MAP program. To start every class he’d go to the piano and play a random note and ask each student what note he was playing. No one had perfect pitch, yet he was asking us as though we did. I often laughed at his attempt to get us to identify the pitch but he took this very seriously and required everyone to participate and give their best effort. To my surprise, after a few months of this exercise, I started hearing the pitches and to my astonishment was able to correctly identify the pitches he played on the piano. To this day, I have relative pitch and can very accurately identify pitches, chords, and progressions. Lawrence gave me the confidence to strive beyond what I thought I was capable of.”
Lawrence had an unwavering commitment to nurture musical abilities and push students to achieve their highest potential.
Reflecting on Lawrence’s administrative prowess, one colleague praises:
“Lawrence was an absolute genius in his ability to work with people. His greatest administrative talent was his trust in his faculty and staff to perform at an acceptable level without micro-managing them. With Lawrence, you always understood what was expected of you and he was brilliant at combining those expectations of commitment and excellence in teaching with the understanding support of the rigors of musical study. He knew what it takes to gradually gain expertise at our instruments and his patience matched his perseverance with his students and faculty.”
Lawrence’s trust and support of the faculty and staff underscored his belief in their capabilities and dedication to musical education.
Lawrence’s vibrant spirit extended beyond music, as one community member shares:
“Lawrence Davis was not only a musician/composer but also Loved an array of creative mediums. Our conversations of Art, Artist, Foreign Movies were always enlightening.
These cards of an Art Project I presented to Lawrence are a memory where he not only supported me but was an enthusiastic contributor to the Project. He was supportive and encouraged my Love of photography. I will ALWAYS remember him fondly.”
His passion for diverse artistic expressions enriched the cultural fabric of our institution, inspiring a holistic appreciation for the arts.
A heartfelt memory shared by a colleague echoes the sentiment of Lawrence’s unwavering support:
“There are three things that made Lawrence an amazing person and so influential in the lives of so many people. First was his welcoming spirit. Second, that Lawrence let ideas and creativity fuel his actions, and third, that Lawrence fundamentally believed in the ability of people to achieve great things. These three qualities are why we will continue to celebrate his life and impact for many, many, years to come.”
One community member recalls,
“There’s a lumberjack trying to cut down a tree in the forest. It’s going slowly even though he’s working really hard. A passerby noticed his blade was dull and asked him why doesn’t he sharpen it? He replied that he doesn’t have time for that and continues cutting down a tree with a dull blade.
Lawrence asked me how come I’m paying more attention to certain faculty members while ignoring others.. I replied that I’m on good terms with those who I’m “ignoring”, so it’s all good. He said maintaining a good relationship is just as important as building them.”
“Anyone who knew Lawrence felt deeply encouraged by him.”
The echoes of Lawrence’s kindness and warmth resound through the words of those who knew him best, a current board member shares:
“Lawrence was a great friend to me. We had many uplifting conversations over the years about life, music, the arts, travel and interesting people in the news. He always treated me (and my late husband, Stanley De Veaux) like we were very special to him. I will always cherish his memory for being so kind to me, for inviting me to join the BSM Board of Directors in 1995 and being one of the outstanding people I have met during my life’s journey. I will be dedicating my donation to BSM this month to Lawrence’s memory (which I have also done in the past).”
Lawrence’s emphasis on fostering strong relationships within our community remains an enduring principle at the heart of our school’s culture.
Today, as we pay homage to Lawrence Davis, we honor not only his legacy but also the shared vision that binds us together at Bloomingdale. Let us continue to nurture his legacy, fostering a community where musical excellence thrives and creativity knows no bounds.
“And always remember to sharpen your blade.” – Lawrence Davis