The College of Fine Arts, in conjunction with the School of Music, are proud to present "Celebrating Student Success: A Tribute to Ken Hanlon" at 7:30 p.m. March 4 in Artemus Ham Concert Hall.
The concert is conducted by Professor Emeritus Virko Baley and features two concerto competition winners from academic year 2019-20: Won Na and Oleksiy Hamov. The concert is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.
The program features Carlos Chávez’s Symphony No. 2 Sinfonía india, and Virko Baley’s Symphony No. 1 “Sacred Monuments,” III. Agnus Dei.
School of Music faculty composers each prepared a three-minute work in honor of Ken that will premiere at the concert, and the Jazz Division is providing a student group to perform in the lobby before the concert and during intermission, to honor Ken’s jazz trombone roots. The winner of the Ken Hanlon award to attend the International Trombone Convention in the summer of 2022 also will be announced.
About Ken Hanlon
Ken Hanlon (May 16, 1941-Nov. 27, 2018), a native Baltimorean, began his musical studies at the age of 10 as a percussionist. Switching to the euphonium at age 12, he took up trombone at the age of 13 and began playing in dance bands a year later. A student of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra principal trombonist John Melick from age 16, Hanlon entered the Peabody Conservatory as a scholarship student in 1959 where he studied with Armand Sarro, principal trombonist of the National Symphony.
During his undergraduate years, Hanlon moved from performing in dance bands to club groups, as well as joining the Hank Levy Big Band as lead trombonist. He also studied jazz arranging with Levy whose credits include composer/arranger for the big bands of Stan Kenton, Sal Salvador, and Don Ellis, as well as vocalist Chris Connor. As a junior, Hanlon was invited to join the Peabody Preparatory School faculty as its youngest member. Receiving his bachelor of music degree in 1963, Hanlon continued his education by enrolling in the Peabody masters program, which he completed in 1965.
Through the ensuing years, Hanlon performed as a supernumerary and substitute in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, played for traveling Broadway shows at the Morris Mechanic Theatre and at the Club Venus, where he backed up such acts as Mel Torme, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Lana Cantrell, the Temptations, Theresa Brewer, and Sandler and Young, among many others.
In 1968, Hanlon went on the road with the Si Zentner Band after moving to Las Vegas where he began working as a showroom musician in the "Strip" hotels, including Caesar’s Palace, Flamingo, Circus Circus, Tropicana, Sahara, Thunderbird, Bonanza, Stardust, Las Vegas Hilton, Landmark and Sands. While working in those showrooms, he recorded live albums as lead trombonist for Jack Jones and Buck Owens. Hanlon also worked as an arranger/copyist for numerous acts that include Frank Sinatra, Edie Adams, Jerry Lewis, Lena Horne, Joanne Worley, Petula Clark, Paul Anka, Liz Torres, Dottie Jones and Andy Williams. He also penned arrangements for the Ed Sullivan Show at Circus Circus, and the Siegfried and Roy Television Special.
While continuing to perform on the Las Vegas Strip, Hanlon joined the music faculty at UNLV in September 1970 and became the chair of the music department during his second week on campus. Already a member of the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra, he was appointed the orchestra personnel manager under conductor Arthur Leaf in 1971.
In cooperation with dancer/choreographer Vasilli Sulich and prominent Las Vegans Nancy Houssels and Morry Soss, Hanlon helped to found the Nevada Dance Theater (now Nevada Ballet Theatre) in 1972, serving as its orchestral conductor and executive director during the company’s formative years. He was also instrumental, along with Maestro Virko Baley, in founding the Nevada Symphony Orchestra in 1980 to fill the void left by the then-bankrupt Las Vegas Symphony.
Hanlon was also instrumental in the development of the Nevada School for the Arts, New World Brass Quintet, Sierra Winds, Las Vegas Opera Association, Las Vegas Chamber Players, Las Vegas Jazz Society and other arts organizations. In 1984, Hanlon was chosen to receive the Nevada Governor’s Arts Award as an arts educator.
On a two-year leave of absence from UNLV beginning in 1986, Hanlon was invited by the Idyllwild Arts Foundation to be the founding director of the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts Residential Academy (now Idyllwild School of the Arts), writing the curricula for the disciplines of art, dance, music and theatre, as well as hiring the faculty and recruiting the first class of students. The academy continues to flourish and has developed an international reputation. During the two years Hanlon spent in Southern California, he also performed as principal trombonist of the Redlands Symphony Orchestra.
Completing his doctorate at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in 1989, Hanlon had editions of 18th century trombone manuscripts he discovered during his dissertation research published by Virgo Music of Birmingham, England and later became an editor for that same firm. Hanlon began work on a biography (not yet completed) of jazz trombonist Carl Fontana in the early ’90s, and in the process realized the number of big band alumni in Las Vegas would, in some instances, constitute more than one version of some of the famous big bands. In 1992, Hanlon organized a posthumous 80th birthday celebration for Stan Kenton, which featured such Kenton alumni as Carl Fontana, Bill Perkins, Lenny Niehaus, Hank Levy, Gabe Balthazar, Billy Root, Vinny Tanno, Tommy Porrello, Ralph Blaze, Carson Smith, Bill Trujillo, Jim Fitzgerald and others. The weekend also featured bandleader/trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and the Four Freshmen.
A similar gathering was organized around Woody Herman alumni in the spring of 1994 titled "The Herds Ride Again," and included such illustrious jazz stars as Urbie Green, Bill Holman, Carl Fontana, Carl Kiffe, Walt Blanton, Tom Porrello, Bill Trujillo, Arno Marsh, Tony Klatka, Bob Pierson, John Bennett, Raoul Romero, Bob Bashford and others.
In 1994, Hanlon was asked to join the UNLV administration as associate provost of academic budget and facilities, but still managed to host the International Trombone Festival in May 1995. It included an orchestral concert in which four trombone concerti received their premiere performances with soloists Christian Lindberg, Alain Trudel, Miles Anderson, and the Prisma Quartet. On jazz night, a five-movement suite by Bill Holman, Slide Show, was premiered featuring jazz trombonists Carl Fontana, Ian McDougal, Bill Watrous and Jiggs Whigam. A special evening was dedicated to women trombonists that featured soloists Abby Conant, Debra Taylor, the Prisma Quartet and an international women’s trombone choir conducted by Maureen Horgan.
Hanlon returned to the music faculty in July 2000 as director of the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center. His activities in that position have included producing three historical jazz CDs featuring the music of Shelly Manne, John Williams, pianist Russ Freeman, and Johnny Pate for the TNC Jazz label.
Hanlon produced 15 albums for TNC Jazz that feature jazz artists Eddie Gomez, Eliot Zigmund, Stefan Karlsson, Carl Fontana, Jiggs Whigham, Marvin Stamm, Tom Warrington, Ed Soph, Joe Lano, Marc Solis, Phil Wigfall, Rocky Winslow, and others. The Johnny Pate recording was done live in March 2003 as "The Johnny Pate 80th Birthday Celebration," with soloists Monty Alexander, Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Shirley Horn, Harvey Mason, James Moody, Marlena Shaw, and Phil Woods.
The Nevada Humanities Committee awarded Hanlon a grant to produce a series of 13 one-hour radio programs on jazz artists who live, or have lived, in Las Vegas. The series, Jazz Las Vegas, was aired on KUNV radio during the summer of 2002 and re-aired in the fall of the same year. The series included programs on Joe Williams, Johnny Pate, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Marlena Shaw, Joe Lano, Walt Blanton, Stefan Karlsson, Tom Warrington, the Cunninghams, Russ Freeman, Jack Montrose, Carson Smith, and Carl Fontana.
Hanlon wrote an article on the music of Las Vegas and Reno published in the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World by Continuum Press of Worcester University, London, England. He served as president and chair of the executive board of the International Trombone Association, traveling worldwide serving as a goodwill ambassador and helping launch new national trombone associations.
About the UNLV College of Fine Arts
The UNLV College of Fine Arts, one of the nation's largest CFA, boldly launches visionaries who transform the global community through collaboration, scholarship, and innovation. Established in 1992, the UNLV CFA encompasses the departments of art, dance, film, theatre, the School of Music, School of Architecture, Entertainment Engineering & Design, and is home to the Performing Arts Center, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, and Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art. We illuminate the power of the arts amidst breathtaking advancements in science and technology. In doing so, we are creating a global destination at the forefront of transforming arts and design. To accomplish this we encourage agency, inventiveness, problem-solving, and big-idea thinking in our students, faculty, and staff. We make education relevant through evolving curriculum and effective learning outcomes.