Larry Monroe Retires

By 
Larry Monroe
Larry Monroe

After 42 years of service at Berklee, Larry Monroe retired in August. During his tenure at the college he served in numerous capacities. He started out teaching classes in arranging, ear training, ensemble, and more during his final semesters as a Berklee student. He was later tapped to head the Performance and Ear Training departments, produce concerts, and help develop the Berklee on the Road international clinic series and Berklee International Network of contemporary music schools.

Since 2005, Monroe has served as the vice president of academic affairs working to establish the Berklee campus in Valencia, Spain. Now with undergraduate and graduate programs under way in Valencia, Monroe believed that the time was right to retire. To commemorate his efforts in Valencia, a doorway to an ensemble room in the new facility bears a plaque with his name and a stenciled silhouette of Monroe playing his alto saxophone.

Monroe has long been a model of dedication to his craft as an educator and lifelong musician at Berklee. Many noted his morning ritual of arriving early to his office to practice before beginning his work. He has also been serious about writing music. “I came to Berklee wanting to learn to write as well as play,” Monroe says. “And through the years, I’ve always written. Berklee was the perfect place to find young musicians wanting to play new music by faculty members. Since I stopped working, I’ve been going through things and discovered a lot of music. I was more active as a writer than I realized—I found things that I don’t remember writing.”

Monroe will be celebrated as a writer and instrumentalist at a concert of his music on October 18 in the Berklee Performance Center. The retrospective program will feature his big-band jazz charts and some 45 musicians—including faculty and alumni guest artists.

Monroe is ready for the new post-Berklee chapter of his life. After working in Spain for the past seven years, he and his wife, Rita, plan to explore Europe more fully than was possible while he was working. “We made great friends over there and want to visit them,” says Monroe. “I also want to see some of the important World War II sites, like Normandy. For years I’ve studied the history of that war.”

He’s also excited about spending even more time on his musical pursuits “All my life, I’ve considered myself to be a musician. After 42 years in education, I want to devote more time to actively being a musician.” He is also getting more opportunities to write and play now that people are learning that his schedule is freer. He’s had one offer to write music for a ballet and is overseeing a jazz concert series at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA. “My schedule is probably busier for the next year than it was last year. This is shaping up to be a nice period for me.”

Monroe doubts that having his days more open will ever result in boredom. “If you’re a musician, there is always more to learn,” he says. “There is no Mount Everest, no highest point. Once you get to a peak, you see there is a higher one somewhere else. I turned my attention to teaching for years; now I’m turning my attention back to teaching me.”