February 13, 2007

Music school director, colleagues plan concert

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Robert L. Weiss is going out with boom-a-boom and a rat-a-tat-tat. After a 29-year association with Southern Illinois University Carbondale, the director of the School of Music will retire in May, but not before holding a final concert, where he will perform lively music on his trombone with cherished colleagues. The faculty recital is set for 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, at Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall.

Joining Weiss will be Anita Hutton, assistant to the dean, on piano and organ, as well as music faculty members Robert E. Allison on trumpet and Frank L. Stemper on piano. The event is free and open to the public.

The group will play music by Anthony Plog, one of the leading composers of contemporary music. "I wanted to play things I had never played before," Weiss said. "Plog is a trumpet player who several years ago wrote a work for our brass trio here at SIUC and I like his writing for brass."

It's also an opportunity for Weiss to share the stage with old friends. "I wanted to play something with Bob Allison, with whom I have collaborated on many pieces over the years, and I wanted to play something by one of our own composers – hence the Stemper piece," Weiss said.

Weiss joined SIUC in 1984 as an assistant professor of music. Over the years, he moved up the ranks until he became director of the School of Music in 1995. Since then, Weiss oversaw an $11 million renovation of Altgeld Hall, which is now a state-of-the-art facility for the study of music.

Weiss also recruited some of the best musicians in the world to teach at the University. "My talent as a trombonist pales in comparison to the world-class musicians we have on this faculty," said Weiss. "I'm excited to be able to leave the future of School of Music in their capable hands."

A native of Quincy, Weiss earned bachelor's and master's degrees in music education from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in education from SIUC.

Weiss' hometown holds a special place in his heart because "not only did Quincy have an excellent public school music program where I received terrific instruction, but that is where I started dating my wife-to-be when I was a senior in high school and she was a sophomore," he said. This year the couple celebrates 41 years together and Weiss' retirement plans call for spending "more time with her as we go to concerts, travel and take more time to be with family," he said.

Weiss will also continue to direct the music at First United Methodist Church in Carbondale. That is, when he isn't sailing the high seas. "I already have reserved a week on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands with my wife and six friends," he said.


Robert L. Weiss