RIT Student Musicians Perform Original Music at Community Concert, Nov. 6




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Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Liberal Arts and The Commission Project are both in the business of music education. To celebrate this common goal, RIT Singers, RIT’s Jazz Ensemble, and Concert Band, along with area high school jazz ensembles, will perform a free concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, in Ingle Auditorium on the RIT campus. All of the music is commissioned by The Commission Project, a national music education program based in Rochester.

The showcase piece will be the premiere of “Away,” composed by David Liptak, an internationally recognized and award-winning composer and Eastman School of Music professor. Liptak’s classical piece is a setting of a poem written by Dane Gordon, RIT professor emeritus and university historian. “Away,” is scored for chorus, string quartet, clarinet, flute and percussion.

“Having a piece composed for our university choral ensemble by someone of David’s stature is a distinct honor,” says Edward Schell, associate professor and music program director in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts. “Although the composition is relatively short, it successfully conveys a wide spectrum of emotions. Reflecting the sentiments of the text that evoke a desire to ‘hold the moment…a little longer before it drifts away,’ I find that the piece elicits personal memories and emotion, which for me creates a feeling of transcendence. The chance to experience well-crafted contemporary art music, coupled with the opportunity to interact with the composer, is a unique opportunity.”

“The idea for this collaboration was born out of an idea to help RIT celebrate its 175th anniversary and spotlight the university’s music program,” says Ned Corman, founder of The Commission Project. “This unique community event is just another way The Commission Project offers elementary, high school and college students the opportunity to perform original music. I’m thankful for the support of New York State Senator Joe Robach, who secured the grant money to underwrite Liptak’s piece.”

The concert will also feature RIT collaborations with the Rush-Henrietta High School Jazz Ensemble and Rochester School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble.

In addition to Liptak, the concert’s featured composers are Jeff Beal (Los Angeles), an Emmy Award-winning TV/film composer; Cary Ratcliff (Rochester), a prominent choral/vocal/instrumental composer; Paul Smoker (Rochester), critically acclaimed jazz trumpeter/composer on faculty at Nazareth College; David Evan Thomas (Minneapolis), an award-winning choral/vocal/instrumental composer; and Gregory Yasinitsky (Pullman, Wash.), renowned saxophonist/composer on faculty at Washington State University. Liptak, Ratcliff, Smoker, Thomas and Yasinitsky will be attending the concert.

NOTE: The Commission Project is one of the most active music commissioning organizations in the country. Since 1994, The Commission Project (TCP) has benefited over 23,000 students by commissioning 112 composers to write more than 357 pieces for student ensembles; over 84 have been published; more than 31 have been commercially recorded. Currently, TCP is sponsoring 30 composer residencies in metropolitan areas across the country and into Canada. Composers who have received commissions include Ron Carter, Paquito D’Rivera, Jeff Beal, Tanya Leon, Bob Mintzer, Tommy Newsom, Diedre Murray, Max Roach, Don Sebesky, Augusta Read Thomas, Fred Wesley, and Greg Yasinitsky. Sebesky’s Joyful Noise Suite received the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental.

Much of TCPs success is due to support from and partnerships with the National Endowment for the Arts, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, Dorothy and Jonathan Rintels Charitable Foundation, Music for Youth Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Rochester Area Community Foundation, New York State Senator Jim Alesi, New York State Senator Joe Robach, New York State Assemblyman David Gantt, New York State Assemblyman Joe Morelle, The Polisseni Foundation, VH-1’s Save the Music Foundation, The Mr. Hollands Opus Foundation, and many others.