It’s been a time of tremendous change and growth for the newly minted Purdue University School of Music. When the transition from IPFW to Purdue Fort Wayne was first announced, it was left for many to wonder what would happen to the still new music building and the programs stemming from the esteemed Indiana University music program.
But the local university found a way to make Fort Wayne the hub for all music programs in the Purdue system, forging a new path and partnering with Sweetwater to expand the already diverse options to include new programs for a contemporary music industry.
Along with those programs comes some rich performance programming as well. While the campus’s schedule tends to be back-loaded — with the end of the semester providing the most intense number of recitals and performances — there will be many excellent chances to check out some regional and national talent on the campus stages.
PFW’s inaugural Jazzfest
Following the long success of the university’s Windfest, which takes place again this year April 10-11, this year brings the inaugural Sweetwater/Mynett Jazzfest which takes place on Feb. 5.
“For many years, we’ve hosted the Windfest, which gives local junior high and high school bands a chance to work with clinicians and perform,” said Greg Jones, director of the Purdue Fort Wayne School of Music. “This year for the first time, we’re doing the same thing for jazz bands in the schools. Clinicians can listen to them play, and they can hear what the clinician has to say to them.
“Often the bands are prepared for competitions, but in this environment they aren’t competing but adding an additional educational component, because sometimes when they’re competing and preparing for competition they do some things that aren’t great educationally. Then after the clinic, they’ll be performing for an audience. They’ll receive a recording of their performance, and admission for the audience is free.”
Obviously combining educational opportunities with performance vehicles is a perfect combination for a growing university music program, and it is definitely to the benefit of area music fans that Purdue Fort Wayne has a big semester planned.
In January, the Rhinehart Music Center on campus hosts the Three Rivers Honor Band Weekend (Jan. 24-26) as well as the Gene Marcus Piano Competition Finals and Winners Recital (Jan. 27). Both feature evening performances.
In February, Jazzfest is just the beginning of a busy month. Among the highlights are the Community Orchestra Concerto and Aria Concert on Feb. 12 which features winners of the annual Student Concerto and Aria Competition.
On Feb. 14, the community is invited to attend a free masterclass with Thomas Hooten, principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. That evening a ticketed concert will feature Hooten performing with pianist Rebecca Wilt and trumpet professor Andrew Lott.
And still another educational opportunity — Woodwind Day featuring jazz clarinetist Frank Glover — takes place on Feb. 17 and also features a concert that evening.
A guest appearance by cellist Robert deMaine of the Los Angeles Philharmonic comes thanks to his performance with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic on Saturday, Feb. 23. The day before, the musician will be at Purdue Fort Wayne working with area cellists, an event open to the public at the Rhinehart Recital Hall.
The month closes out with a Feb. 28 performance featuring Václav Blahunek as guest conductor, Chance Huiet on tuba, and Viet Cuong, whom Jones calls “a rock star in the wind ensemble world.” Hailed as one of Europe’s leading conductors of wind music and conductor of the Prague Castle Band, Blahunek will lead the university bands in works by Czech composers. Viet Cuong, composer-in-residence at the School of Music, will debut his work Concerto for Tuba featuring Huiet, professor of tuba.
Thanks to spring break, March is decidedly quieter, but there is one performance of note from one of the community’s favorite Purdue music performers: Hamilton Tescarollo. The associate professor and director of keyboard studies will perform a solo piano recital featuring Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata and Prokofieff’s Sonata No. 2, Op. 14, as well as works by Bach/Siloti and Schumann.
Having overseen the Gene Marcus Piano Competition for several years, Tescarollo has a high profile among piano aficionados in the area, and his performances have become a popular part of the school’s performance calendar.
Heating up in April
April is when the calendar really heats up, and music fans should check the PFW School of Music calendar for a full list of student recitals and performances. It’s the same each final month of the semester.
“I feel like I really should be there for the students, that it’s important that they see that I’m there supporting them,” Jones said as the fall semester was winding down. “But that meant that I’ve been there every night the last few weeks.”
In addition to the Windfest, April also plays host to a day when percussion gets some love. The Percussion Day and Spring Percussion Ensemble Concert on April 7 is open to all percussionists regardless of age and will feature clinics by Eric Schweikert, director of percussion at the School of Music and guest artist Cameron Leach.
Opera fans can look forward to the school’s opera ensemble students performing Dido and Aeneas on April 5 and 7 while jazz fans should mark their calendars for the annual jazz performance by the school’s faculty on April 9.
The semester winds down with another masterclass and performance by acclaimed pianist Stewart Goodyear. In town for a performance with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic on Saturday, April 27, Goodyear will work with students on Friday, April 26, in a free admission event.
This provides one more excellent opportunity to see how much the Purdue School of Music is bringing to the Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana area, merging educational and performance excellence for the entire community to enjoy.