Dr. Arthur Jennings was many things to many different people. To his students, he was an inspiration, a dedicated trombonist who had graduated from Juilliard and traveled the world before settling into a thirty-year career at the University of Florida. To his colleagues, he was a breath of fresh air, someone who always kept a positive attitude and refused to be discouraged by setbacks, and whose compassion and sense of justice was second-to-none. To his friends, Jennings was a jokester, a sensitive yet brutally honest man who rarely held his tongue and could always be counted on for a good laugh or a heartfelt discussion.
Dr. Raymond Chobaz was lucky enough to consider himself a member of all three of these categories, as a close colleague of Jennings’ for over thirty years before he passed away earlier this year. Chobaz has thousands of memories of Jennings — after all, they were not only colleagues for over three decades, but also roommates for a period of time while Chobaz raised three boys.
“Arthur was a special person,” Chobaz says. “It is very rare to find a person so evolved, someone who everyone loves. He was benevolent, and straightforward, and he refused to play any political games.”
Chobaz called visits to Jennings’ office a “Refuge of Sanity” — visits that could refresh and reassure both students and faculty alike. That was just Jennings’ way: Always helpful, kind, and comforting, exactly what one needed when facing any kind of pressure or stress.
To honor Jennings’ memory, Chobaz has organized a concert with the UF Symphony Orchestra. The program features “C.P.E. Bach Symphony in D Major,” Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 “Emperor,” and, significantly, “Bruckner Symphony No. 0 in D Minor.”
It was Jennings wife, Debbie, who informed Chobaz of Jennings’ love for Bruckner. Chobaz thought it fitting — considering Jennings’ propensity for choosing new, unusual, and exciting pieces to perform — to include Bruckner’s “Symphony No. 0,” a piece that the composer abandoned and discredited, but still published.
Chobaz knows the concert will be electric. Faculty and students, most of whom worked alongside Jennings and admired him deeply, are determined to give him the send-off he deserves.
The concert will be held in the University Auditorium on Tuesday, October 11, at 7:30 pm.