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UNT jazz professor to conduct grammy award-winning band

UNT jazz professor to conduct grammy award-winning band

October 04
13:29 2013

Tricia Sims / Writing Intern

Standing in front of students, daydreaming about his future ensemble to shape, Professor DeRosa gets back to work, focusing on every note.

“I have always done conducting and writing for other bands, but I have never had a band of my own,” Jazz Composition and Arranging Professor Richard DeRosa said. “The nice thing is that I get to have my own band to a certain extent.”

DeRosa was named the new chief conductor of WDR Big Band, a Grammy award-winning German band, and beginning next August he will join the band part time in Germany.

“As I tell my students, when opportunities come your way it is sometimes really good to take them,” DeRosa said.

Last October, DeRosa was offered the job after he went to WDR as a guest conducted some of his pieces. After hearing that the current conductor would be stepping down soon, DeRosa was named conductor a year later after the details were settled.

DeRosa will be in Germany about 50 days for different projects throughout the school year.

“I am very happy about being able to do both, the WDR and still do UNT,” he said.

Students knew that DeRosa had some experience with WDR Band, but DeRosa kept the job offer under the radar.

“I was extremely happy that he got the job – he absolutely deserves it,” first year Jazz Composition and Arranging master’s student Drew Zaremba said. “He is amazing, not only as a composer and arranging, but as a band leader.”

Zaremba said DeRosa has an advantage of both communication and composing skills.

“Most composers and writers don’t have good communication skills, [but] he is blessed with both,” Zaremba said. “He knows how not only to write and compose, but then how to communicate that to the ensemble.”

With a long teaching background, including working at William Paterson University, Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School, DeRosa makes teaching his top priority.

“When I am the chief conductor and I do the projects that I can do, the band will also do other projects with other guest conductors,” he said. “Even though I have a title, it is not necessarily a full time thing. If the WDR Band had said, ‘you’ve got to be here full time and you have to leave UNT to do this,’ then I probably would have turned them down.”

As of now DeRosa is working on Christmas music for WDR and will be traveling to Germany in December to be a guest conductor.

“When this semester ends, I will get on a plane to Germany and I will go do that project,” he said. “I am writing the music for that project right now. I have got to go over there to actually conduct and record the music.”

The international exposure of Professor DeRosa may expand the UNT Music Program.

“It is higher visibility for UNT and we might get more students coming here after seeing me on a TV show or a concert hall,” DeRosa said. “I think I can reach more people that way.”

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