Cellist and Composer Clovice A. Lewis, Jr. Interviewed by The Ukiah Daily Journal, Ukiah, California
We subsequently posted on February 9, 2015:
Clovice A. Lewis, Jr.: I have yet to meet another African American composer. Your blog and the AfriClassical.com site has been most illuminating.
Susan Fadem sends this biography of Clovice A. Lewis, Jr.:
CLOVICE A. LEWIS JR.
A world premiere in St. Louis, especially by an acclaimed
California composer whose primary connection here is
through an enduring friendship, nurtured annually on
California turf, is not exactly an everyday occurrence.
But thanks to localite Janet Riehl, the four-movement
“The Score,” envisioned by its California composer,
Clovice A. Lewis Jr., as the soundtrack to a movie not
yet in existence, has its first-ever performance, in toto
and with a full orchestra, on March 6, 2016.
Adding to the momentousness of the occasion, Mr.
Lewis, a composer/cellist, will perform the cello concerto
in the fourth movement. For the University City
Symphony Orchestra (UCSO), this history-making
synergy was spearheaded by Ms. Riehl, herself a
multimedia artist and writer, fiddler and also “a country
girl who roamed the world, then followed her heart”
back to her Midwestern roots.
Ms. Riehl is a benefactor of Maestro Leon Burke III’s
current “Black Art Matters” season with the UCSO. Her
idea to incorporate Mr. Lewis and his composition
emerged quite spontaneously.
During a recent visit to California, where she once
studied, created and lived, she visited Mr. Lewis. “She
always wants to know what I’ve done lately,” he recalls.
So he played her the computer version of “The Score”
in its entirety, plus a video of his April 2014 performance
of the third movement, the only movement to be
presented by northern California’s Lake County
Her response was memorable. “She was enamored with
it,” Mr. Lewis recalls. “She jumped up and down and
said: ‘We hav-v-v-v-ve to hear it in St. Louis.’”
Fas-tforward: Mr. Lewis arrived here nearly two weeks
ago, in part to participate in the UCSO’s final two weekly
rehearsals prior to the concert.
For Mr. Lewis, a self-described “creator,” this meant
leaving behind, though temporarily, not only his work as
a teacher of Composition and Cello at the Ukiah
(California) School of Music and first-chair cellist
with the Ukiah Symphony, but also as Founder, President
and Principal Instructor at Akolouthia Institute, a private
California college where he teaches 3D modeling,
animation, game design, computer programming and app
Growing up, Mr. Lewis found irresistible the “Top Secret”
contents of his father’s stashed-away technical manuals.
His dad was an electronics technician with the U.S. Air
At age 17, Mr. Lewis wrote his first symphony. Likewise
an improver of what exists, he early on invented a
hydrofoil boat. His “Wilbur’s Flight School,” devised
when he was studying for his pilot’s license in the late
1980s, is considered the first computer-based training
program for private pilots.
Through one of Mr. Lewis’ current companies, he
continues to refine and personally do all the structural
and electrical engineering for housing units he hopes
will someday help in worldwide disaster relief. “All the
software is open-source and not proprietary,” he says.
“I believe that kind of collaborative inventiveness is
the wave of the future. It’s beneficial to humanity. “
On the orchestral side of life, Mr. Lewis composes
regularly. Yet with his nearly a dozen larger pieces,
“The Score” among them, onetime dreams, always
similar and spaced over the past 30 years, have
played a vital role.
In each of these dreams, he’s in a park, hears an
orchestra in the distance and enters an auditorium.
There, an orchestra is playing music he likes.
“I always go behind the curtain,” he says. “To get to
my seat, I walk by the bass players and look over
the principal bass’ shoulder. I see my name on the
music.”. Then he sits in the audience and listens.”
Awakening the next morning, Mr. Lewis begins to
write down, often note for note, what he heard in
his dream. He now uses a music notation software
for computers called Notion, by the Presonus
For “The Score,” more tonal than many of Mr. Lewis
works because, as a film score, he wanted it to be
“big, kind of like ‘Star Wars,’” total composition
time was just six weeks. As Mr. Lewis explains:
First Movement, “Hero’s Journey”: Travels through
different lands. Music reflects depth of the
Second Movement, “The King’s Court”: Hear the
king going through the court. A theme comes in
and out. It’s regal. After a revolt, the kingdom is
Third Movement, “Going Home”: The reverse
journey. Echoes from other movements. Reflective
and also looks ahead.
Fourth Movement, “Love's Embrace”: Cello
concerto. The feeling is insular. Hero gets the girl.
Love and reflection.
Mr. Lewis has no immediate plans to submit “The
Score” to Hollywood. Far more compelling to him,
however, is taking schoolchildren on a mission of
As he did in recent days with youngsters here, he
shared “The Score” and invited them to illustrate
their imaginings. Results will be projected during
the symphony’s world premiere with the UCSO.
For information, visit www.jazzicalmusic.com, Mr.
Comment by email:
Dear Bill, Can't thank you enough. Your passion
and dedication so deep. This is marvelous!
Appreciatively, which doesn't begin to cover it,
Susan Fadem and the University City (Missouri)