Dr. Barry Ellis

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Last Friday, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville held a celebration of the life of Dr. Barry L. Ellis in the Brodbeck Concert Hall. A large crowd of all ages gathered to commemorate a life that touched many people and was gone too soon. His casket was set in front of the stage as if to say one last goodbye to the craft that he dedicated so much time to and the students whom he worked closely with. The Associate Director of Bands, Matthew Gregg, spoke on how close a friend and how wonderful a colleague Dr. Ellis was. Following him in speaking were other colleagues, some friends and his family. They talked of how truly committed Barry was to his work, his students and his loved ones. Words alone were not enough to capture the true essence on how wonderful a human being Dr. Ellis was, but where words ended music continued.

The highlight of the night was the musical performances. It is truly befitting that a person so involved in the music department would leave this world surrounded by the sounds that he helped cultivate. Works such as “Simple Gifts” and “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” were performed beautifully and left the audience speechless. There were small ensembles, large orchestras, solos, duets and a full choir. Interpretive dancing was an unexpected yet welcome treat that captured Dr. Ellis’s influence in all the arts.

Professor Ellis was the Director of Bands and Orchestra at UW-Platteville for 27 years. Along with this position he also held private lessons and was the director of the UW-Platteville Pioneer Summer Band Camp, Band Conductor’s Art Workshop, Founder and Director of the UW-Platteville Tri-State Honors Band Festival, the Wisconsin College and University Faculty Woodwind Ensemble, the Rountree Wind Symphony and served as director of the UW-Platteville Marching Pioneers during his tenure. His involvement with this institution will forever be remembered and will live on in the Barry L. Ellis Music Scholarship Fund, through the UW-Platteville Foundation.

Music is a purely human phenomenon that all people can appreciate, but to be one with sound and to truly embody it is a rarity. All those who knew Dr. Barry Ellis would describe him as a man who not only lived for life’s greatest melodies, but also for nurturing others so that they too could experience the joys of music. Many students and staff will dearly miss the man who inspired all.

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