The euphonious sounds and timbre of the jazz-trumpet could be heard in Lambert Recital Hall as fellow jazz-musicians accompanied Dr. Larry Smithee in his final faculty recital, Feb. 17th. This striking, high-energy performance marked the end of the expansive and stunning career of Smithee, associate professor of music at Maryville College.
Smithee’s love of music began at an early age in Mumford, Tenn.; Smithee first studied the trumpet at the age of 11.
He continued to develop his passion later in life, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Arkansas State University. He then moved on to obtain his doctorate in education from Washington University in St. Louis.
Smithee’s career achievements include serving as the music arranger for the United States Air Force Band, performing on the Bob Hope Show and playing with famous artists including Ray Charles and Mel Torme.
Smithee has also worked with several equally talented musicians from the Maryville community such as Morrie Bowden, Jeff Jennings, Dr. Bill Swan, Martin Whitaker, Kevin Krapf and Emily Emadian—all musicians who made up the jazz band in his final recital.
Smithee is retiring at the end of this spring after a 21-year career at MC. Along with holding the title of associate professor of music at the college, Smithee conducts the MCCommunity Concert Band, a program he himself started.
The many wonderful performances from the MC Community Concert band are proof of his diligent work here on campus. Smithee takes pride in having the opportunity to conduct for the community-based band.
When asked what his fondest experiences from the college are, Smithee replied confidently, “The students.”
Many students have stayed in touch with this beloved professor following graduation to share their successes.
Smithee finds it interesting to see the evolution of student to community member. He loves the prospect of being able to provide the atmosphere for growth and challenge to community members and students alike.
He also enjoys the chance for personal development that working at MC has provided him.
“Being a musician is a work in progress—like every student, there is always room for growth,” Smithee said. “Maryville College gives me the opportunity for personal musical growth every time I perform.”
Smithee plans to rekindle sundry personal interests during his new found retirement. He and his wife plan on maintaining their physical health by getting back into a routine of “aggressive walking.” He also plans on taking up one of his most revered authors, Stephen King, and recommends one of his favorite novels by King, “Under the Dome.”
And of course, Smithee does still plan on remaining involved in the community and perfecting his craft through musical performances; although he may be leaving the college, it does not mark the end of his career as a musician.
“Fortunately, I have a built in hobby that I’m going to pursue,” Smithee said. “Being a musician is a full-time job. I’m returning right to where I started. Music is what brought me here, not being a teacher. Now I’m just a kid in the band again.”
A true student and master of his craft, Smithee will be remembered at Maryville College for leaving on a high note.