Montana State University

Author of "The Soloist" to speak at MSU freshman convocation set Sept. 9

August 19, 2009


Steve Lopez, the award-winning Los Angeles Times columnist and author of "The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, and The Redemptive Power of Music," will speak at the Montana State University 2009 Freshman Convocation set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, at MSU's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The event is free and open to the public. Lopez's book was also the subject of a recent movie starring Robert Downey, Jr., as Lopez and Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless musician. Photo courtesy of Penguin Books.    High-Res Available

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Steve Lopez, the award-winning Los Angeles Times columnist and author of "The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, and The Redemptive Power of Music," will speak at the Montana State University 2009 Freshman Convocation set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, at MSU's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The event is free and open to the public.

Lopez will discuss the four-year odyssey and friendship with Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a journey that led to his writing of "The Soloist," which in turn inspired a recent motion picture by the same name starring Jamie Foxx as Ayers and Robert Downey, Jr., as Lopez. Incoming MSU freshmen read the book over the summer. The book and related issues of music, homelessness and mental illness will be discussed in MSU classes during the coming semester.

Lopez met Ayers, a homeless musician with schizophrenia who slept on a Los Angeles' skid row street, while he was looking for a topic for an upcoming column. The encounter led to a friendship and a number of columns that resulted in a bestselling book about friendship, second chances, the power of human connections, and the healing power of music and art. The friendship of the two men continues today.

As a salute to the role music plays in the book and Ayers' life, the convocation will also include a performance by MSU cello professor Rebecca Hartka and some of her MSU students. Trained in the classical bass at the prestigious Juilliard School before his career was cut short by mental illness, Ayers also taught himself to play violin, cello and trumpet.

Lopez will sign copies of "The Soloist" following the convocation. The MSU Bookstore will be at the event with books available for purchase.

"The Soloist" is also the selection for One Book -- One Bozeman sponsored by the Bozeman Public Library Foundation. In addition to speaking at the convocation, Lopez will also sign books at a public appearance at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Other One Book-- One Bozeman activities include a photo exhibit opening Aug. 20 in the lobby of MSU's Renne Library running through the month. A free showing of the film "The Soloist," which is based on Lopez' book, will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, in the Community Room of the Bozeman Public Library.

Jake Fleming's advanced jazz ensemble, the "Bourbon Street Players," will play a benefit at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 at the Sola Caf, located at the corner of Willson and Kagy. The event is a benefit for One Book -- One Bozeman, and the Bozeman Public Library Foundation, which are recipients of the 10 Cents for Charity program the month of September.

A panel discussion on mental health and homeless issues in conjunction with Lopez' appearance will be conducted at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, in Ballroom C of the MSU SUB.

The film version of "The Soloist," based on Lopez's book, will be shown at MSU's Procrastinator Theater at 9 p.m. nightly Sept. 3-8 and at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10-11. Tickets are $2.

The MSU Convocation is an annual event that celebrates the entrance of freshmen into MSU. It provides incoming students with the opportunity to meet peers and connect with faculty and staff. For more information, go to: http://www.montana.edu/convocation/

To learn more about One Book One Bozeman, go to: http://www.onebookonebozeman.org/

The MSU Leadership Institute of ASMSU, the MSU Alumni Association and the Bozeman Public Library Foundation are also sponsors of the event.

Jeff Adams (406) 994-7835, jadams@montana.edu