The MU School of Music is one reed short of a full quintet.
Lecolion Washington, assistant professor of bassoon and music appreciation, informed the school last week he is leaving to take a similar position at the University of Memphis.
“We enjoyed working with him,” said Marcia Spence, an associate professor who teaches horn. “He is a great bassoonist, and we’ll miss him.”
Washington said he will make the move because Memphis offers more opportunities for his wife, Carina Nyberg Washington, including graduate studies and freelance work.
Washington likens his departure to breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend and knows the reaction among faculty will be mixed.
“There will be three sides: those who are happy with me, those who are happy for me but upset I’m leaving, and those that will be very upset with me,” he said. “I tried very hard to prevent all of that, but in some situations it’s inevitable.”
Melvin Platt, director of the school, has started a search to replace Washington. He has received 10 applications and expects more. He hoped to interview and to audition at least two candidates this week.
“We are calling universities, putting out the word and being as active as possible in identifying applicants,” Platt said.
Washington taught two courses in music appreciation for non-music majors in addition to instructing bassoon students. Other music faculty will cover the music appreciation courses. Arrangements will be made for bassoon students.
“They’ll get the classes they’re entitled to but maybe one week late,” Platt said.
Platt has concerns with the University of Memphis about Washington’s recruitment. He cited the code of ethics set up by the National Association of Schools of Music, an accrediting agency.
The code states that after May 1, a school shouldn’t offer an appointment to a faculty member at another school unless both schools reach a prior agreement on the starting date of the appointment.
Platt said the University of Memphis did not inform him of its intent to make an offer until July 29, well after the May 1 date mentioned in the code.
Platt said he has sent e-mails to officials at the University of Memphis and the executive director of the school about the matter. He declined to comment on possible further action.
His contention is with the University of Memphis, not Washington.
“I have extended my best wishes to him for great success, and it is sincere,” Platt said.
In addition to teaching at MU, Washington performed with the Missouri Quintet and Missouri Chamber Orchestra. He also participated in the 2003 Martin Luther King celebration and the Remember the Dream job-shadowing program for minority youth. He performed locally about 50 times since arriving in Columbia two years ago.
“From the moment I stepped on MU’s campus, everyone told me how great Columbia is, and eventually it ends up selling itself,” Washington said.