David Becker to return to Lawrence- PLK -jcr -dlh

Bonnie Alger

Pennsylvania native David Becker spent his childhood attending Philadelphia Orchestra concerts conducted by Eugene Ormandy. Many years later, Becker studied music at Ithaca College and the University of Louisville. In the late seventies he took a teaching position at Lawrence as viola professor and director of orchestral studies. He then went on to hold positions at Oberlin, University of Miami, and UW-Madison, where he has taught and conducted for the past 21 years.
Having played with the Peninsula Music Festival and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Becker’s list of credits as a violist is impressive. So what got him hooked on teaching? It was, in fact, the influence of his high school orchestra conductor. “He encouraged me to reach my potential,” Becker said. “I strive to be the best artist I can be and to share that.” Perhaps only half-jokingly, associate professor of viola Matt Michelic interjected, “Besides, he is a violist; this is obviously the mark of the most discerning musical minds!”
The maestro’s respect for composers and conductors is evident in his approach to making music. He emphasized that one of the greatest parts of conducting and teaching is “being able to experience the genius of great composers and sharing that with other musicians.” The challenge, he said, is to “attempt to understand the composer’s real intentions… every time I rehearse or conduct, that composer is sitting in the audience, and I have to answer to them. [It’s] unbelievably nerve-wracking. The sense of responsibility is very real. I want to meet them all!” His favorite piece of music is whichever one he’s currently studying and conducting. “If it’s not the most important in my life at the time, I can’t do my best,” he explained.
When asked why he has chosen to return to Lawrence, Becker indicated his respect for the “academic and artistic integrity” of the school, and for the “quality of students and artistic faculty.” He is also excited about the possibility of collaborating with other departments, including band, choir, and jazz. Becker wishes to continue making the premieres of new music a priority by trying to program at least one new work per concert program. “I’m very dedicated to new music,” Becker said.
When asked what his hopes are for the orchestra, Becker said that he would like to uphold its established tradition, for which he has great respect. He would also like to “make a small contribution to the future development of that program.”
“There’s a creative energy going on here and a positive attitude that’s very contagious,” Becker said. He added, “I’m remarkably excited.”
For close friend and fellow Sinfonian Fred Sturm, Becker’s return “marks the professional reuniting of two dear old friends. I have no doubt that Maestro Becker’s presence will unify and galvanize the Conservatory faculty forces in a profound way. David has a unique way of bringing faculty, staff, and students together, and I’m anxious to witness the impact of his personal magic upon the world of music at Lawrence.