Arts & Life

Bob Cole Conservatory of Music hosts memorial concert for composer and educator Alan Shockley

The Composers’ Guild of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music hosted a memorial concert for music professor Alan Shockley on Friday.

The event streamed live on YouTube, featuring live music from Long Beach State’s New Music Ensemble and Laptop Ensemble, as well as performances from students and alumni from the department.

Shockley, who joined the department in 2008, died on Sept. 29, 2020

The composer was an area director for composition studies at Bob Cole and director of the New Music Ensemble, which consisted of student and faculty guest performers.

Shockley taught multiple courses at Bob Cole, including From Poetry to Song: Composition and Senior Composition Recital. He was known to integrate unconventional sounds into his work, and has written work for contemporary artists including violinists, cellists and pianists. 

Students and alumni from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music perform at Alan Shockley’s memorial concert on Nov. 13. Photo by Paris Barraza.

“Our musical family deeply mourns the loss of Dr. Shockley,” Johannes Müller Stosch, director of Bob Cole, said. “He was an esteemed colleague, mentor, friend, conspiring composer and role model to many of us. Alan’s voice among our faculty members is deeply missed. He was always thoughtful, thought deeply and passionately about what is best for our students and inspired them to do their best work…I’m deeply grateful that we can gather in remembrance of a wonderful human being.”

Over 100 people attended the memorial concert. 

Virtual attendees left comments in the chat box, saying how the New Music Ensemble had been a place where students could decompress together. Others shared how they were happy to remember Shockley’s work and celebrate his life.

“I am really glad to be here, Dr. Shockley was pivotal in my grad school experience,” Brandon Kaplan, an alumni from CSULB, said in a comment on YouTube. “A wonderful mentor, teacher and friend.”

Faculty from the department were in attendance as well, including Robert Luke Martin, Studio Orchestra director and Alicia Doyle, associate director of Bob Cole.

“From the moment that Alan Shockley walked on campus at CSULB, he brought with him a wealth of knowledge about music, about literature, about poetry, about art, about fashion,” Doyle said. “He was a cultural omnivore. He was amazingly, not an omnivore when it came to food. He had no shortage of disparaging remarks about brussels sprouts. He thought that the collard greens at Veggie Grill were okay, and he called things with jello in them a salad. Alan, you are sorely, sorely missed, but I will think of you every time I eat a healthy meal.”

Michael Higgins, jazz guitarist at Bob Cole, also left a video message for Shockley and attendees to listen.

“It was a pleasure knowing you,” Higgins said. “You’re so kind, always, and so professional…I will miss you greatly, and I just went to leave this little message and tell you that it was wonderful being your comrade at Long Beach State and getting to know you. You will be missed.”

Before the concert finished, Shockley’s wife, Jessica Sternfeld, and their two daughters, thanked everyone for putting the concert together. 

Sternfeld shared how Shockley took pride out of his students’ achievements, and how he taught using his kindness and intelligence. 

“I know he was a dear friend to many of you performing or watching this, so thank you for sharing the experience of his music and for being a part of Alan’s life,” Sternfeld said.

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