On Wednesday, April 5, the Concord Academy community had the opportunity to hear from Larry Goldings ’86. An accomplished pianist, composer, and performer who specializes in jazz and folk, Goldings has many impressive musical achievements, including two Grammy nominations for the Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2007 and the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2017. He has toured with singer-songwriter James Taylor since 2001, and has also scored the television show Self Made: Inspired By The Life of Madam C.J. Walker. Despite his prestigious awards, what truly made Goldings such a valuable and entertaining speaker was his charming, witty humor and his helpful advice from the perspective of a CA graduate.
Goldings began his talk with a few anecdotes about his time at CA, specifically recalling the time when he was cast as Prospero from The Tempest. During one of his soliloquies however, Goldings blanked and forgot his lines. While the moment was salvaged by a fellow actor, Goldings did not forget it.
Though he admitted to being not much of a public speaker, Goldings participated heavily in many different aspects of the performing arts program at CA. “I was blessed to have the breadth of performing arts opportunities,” he said. Goldings enjoyed having access to a wide variety of classes, which exposed him to unique genres and allowed him to identify which specific fields he felt most interested in.
Throughout the assembly, Goldings added in several small performances of pieces that were important to his career. One such piece was “School Song,” which is based on many influences Goldings found at CA. “School Song” also has an impressive history to it: it was written when Goldings’ tour partner James Taylor needed another song to add to one of their live performances. Other pieces that Goldings played during the block included his own jazz-infused interpretation of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, and an interpretation of how jazz artist Thelonious Monk would have played “Yesterday” by the Beatles. One piece that especially delighted the audience was a short improvisation based on a phone number given by a student. Goldings assigned each digit to a chord on the scale, then weaved the recurring theme of the seven notes into an admirably complex work of art created on the spot.
Listening to Goldings’ assembly, especially his advice, was nothing short of intriguing and eye-opening. Goldings emphasized how he benefited from paying attention to positive influences and imitating people he admired, while still making sure to transcend beyond this exact form of reproduction. He also invited students to reflect on and appreciate the numerous opportunities CA provides, and take advantage of them while they had the opportunity to do so. While Goldings himself mainly applied both of these points towards performing arts, the same ideas extend to many other aspects of students' lives as well. Thank you to Larry Goldings, for such a valuable and engaging performance!