Bob Milne in concert with Darryl Worley, Boy Named Banjo, and jazz musician Brian Nova
Hear the extraordinary Bob Milne in concert with Darryl Worley, Boy Named Banjo (featuring two Sewanee alumni), and jazz musician Brian Nova at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, in Guerry Auditorium. The performance will include the premiere of Milne's song, "Don't Forget Me, Tennessee," inspired by his visit to Sewanee last year. The concert is free and open to the public.
Milne holds a music degree in French horn performance and was named assistant first horn of the Rochester Philharmonic, New York, at the age of 19. However, Bob Milne is a self-taught pianist, playing literally everything by ear. He never took piano lessons, saying that he thought "everyone knew how to play one of these things." He played in Detroit area saloons, seafood houses, and every place where he could (his words) "have so much fun and get paid for it at the same time." He was so popular that he played two gigs a day, seven days a week, for 25 years. Following a performance at the Cheboygan Opera House, appearances in other concert halls followed. He served as musical ambassador for the United States for six years. He has never practiced the piano a day in his life, and to this day has never played at home, either. He says it's "no fun if nobody's there."
Milne attracted the attention of neurological scientists and researchers after he composed a two and a half hour opera, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, in his head while on a concert tour. This included the story line, music, lyrics, and orchestrations, all while driving halfway across Montana. The researchers have studied his thought processes for eight years now, including MRI brain wave studies, memory tests unrelated to music, and over 300 hours of interviews. The results of these tests have been shared worldwide via the Radiolab podcast, "The 4-Track Mind." The program was based on a test at the Hershey (Penn.) Neurological Hospital, in which Milne was able to accurately track four different symphonic works at the same time, and describe the exact position of each note in each piece after four minutes of "listening."
The Library of Congress documented Milne during three days of interviews in 2004. At the conclusion he was deemed a "National Treasure" by the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington.