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School of Performing Arts says thanks and farewell to Kent Holliday through song

March 20, 2017

Kent Holliday
Kent Holliday teaches piano, composition, and theory in the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts.

Kent Holliday has been a part of Virginia Tech for four decades. His musical legacy will be celebrated in an upcoming compositional retrospective on March 24 at 7:30 p.m. in  the Recital Salon of Squires Student Center at Virginia Tech.

According to Jim Sochinski, a fellow faculty member in music at the School of Performing Arts, Holliday is often thought of as a renaissance man. “Kent is a world traveler; he knows a lot of things,” Sochinski said. Holliday has been to Cuba, the Galapagos Islands, many parts of Europe, and all over the United States. Sochinski said those travels have inspired many of Holliday's compositions.

Holliday was one of Virginia Tech’s first music faculty members back in the early 1970s. Virginia Tech first offered a bachelor’s degree in music in 1974 and graduated the initial class of music majors in 1978.

Neil Gladd, one of the first music majors to graduate from the university, recalls working with Holliday from the beginning. “Kent was always encouraging,” Gladd said. “He even invited me to his house a few times. He was always doing something interesting.” Gladd has gone on to have a lengthy career in the music industry as a classical mandolinist and composer. He credits Holliday as a source of inspiration for pursuing a music career.

Over the past 40 years, Holliday has taught music and humanities courses and has inspired generations of composers. He was also a founding member of the Whitman Trio, the first faculty ensemble ever created at Virginia Tech. He won the Virginia Tech Music Teachers Association Composition four separate times and received first place in the New Music Delaware Composition Competition in 1996. He has received numerous awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers for both music and performance.

Many of Holliday’s compositions will be performed by various musicians and singers — including faculty members Tracy Cowden, Jay Crone, Kyle Hutchins, Richard Masters, and Ariana Wyatt — as well as members of the Kandinsky Trio (Elizabeth Bachelder, Benedict Goodfriend, and faculty member Alan Weinstein). 

A Musical Odyssey: Kent Holiday’s Compositional Retrospective is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

The Squires Student Center is located at 290 College Ave. on the main Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. Free parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Streets; in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street; and in the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or by calling 540-231-3200. 

If you are an individual with a disability and desire accommodation, please call Susan Sanders at 540-231-5200 or email her during regular business hours.

Written by Willie Caldwell, a graduate student studying arts leadership and higher education at Virginia Tech.  

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