SNL Band’s Leon Pendarvis Returns to River Campus

Phot of Leon Pendarvis

Photo Credit: Fred Lynch, Southeast Missourian

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 4, 2014 – Leon Pendarvis, musician, musical director and conductor for NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) Band, is returning to Southeast Missouri State University to present a lecture April 21 at Southeast’s River Campus.

Pendarvis will present a workshop for musical theatre students from 1-2:30 p.m. in the River Campus Seminary Building and a public lecture from 2:45-4 p.m. in the Robert F. and Gertrude L. Shuck Music Recital Hall.

Pendarvis’ success with the SNL Band barely scratches the surface of his considerable talents and accomplishments in the music industry. In addition to his high-profile role as the band’s musical director and conductor, he has played keyboards for the band for nearly 30 years, making him the longest standing musician in the show’s history. He also has performed throughout Europe with the Blues Brothers, as well as at presidential inaugurations, Sting’s “Save the Rainforest” concerts, and a tribute to music giant Ahmet Ertegun.

His credits include writing, producing and playing for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Ike and Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, Roberta Flack, Chaka Kahn, Paul Simon, Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, Celine Dion, Luther Vandross, Billy Joel, Jewel and countless others. Pendarvis also owns Pinwheel Productions, a world-class recording studio that has worked with artists like Pink and Avril Lavigne, in addition to producing hundreds of national commercials.

Judith Farris, artist-in-residence in musical theatre and voice for Southeast’s Department of Theatre and Dance, invited Pendarvis. He has visited the University before and is a friend of Farris.

The son of two teachers, Pendarvis recently received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater in South Carolina.

“He was so proud of [his honorary doctorate] because of them. He’s too humble for his own good,” Farris said.

“We met because his late wife was a prize student of mine in New York,” said Farris, who also operates her own private voice studio in New York City helping professional actors and dancers achieve quick positive vocal results, making her one of the most sought after teachers in the New York City theater community. “He came to Cape Girardeau shortly after she passed away, and that was four years ago.”

One of the former deans knew about Pendarvis and asked him to speak while he was in town at the time. Farris said it was so well received that he was asked if he would he return and speak, and he did, speaking more about performing, recording experiences, and new technologies. He spent a lot of time in the River Campus’ Convocation Center with mostly music students interested in recording aspects.

“His studio is basically in a little suitcase now,” Farris said.