7/2/18 Justin Cowan is the Musical Director for Always Patsy Cline which is currently playing to several times extended audiences at Florida Studio Theater. Although he never planned to be a musical director people continually urged him to join the choir, audition for a Community Theater production and finally made it possible for him to get the education he wanted, but could not afford. Whether chance, fate or coincidence someone was always there pointing him in the direction he is delighted to have gone. Listen to this gregarious, charming man talk about how he was “led” to where he was meant to go, how that experience informs his commitment to teaching, and made him the perfect person to bring out the Patsy in Meredith. Also listen to one of the songs for the showcontinue reading
5-28-18 Jerry Billik is a composer, arranger, songwriter, conductor, and director of stage productions. Although he downplays his skill and accomplishments Jerry’s career is extraordinary. A musical virtuoso by the age of 13, he has composed more than 50 pieces of music, from popular ballads to marches to his ‘Symphony for Band’. His concert march “Block M” composed for the University of Michigan Marching Band when he was a senior there has been voted by band composers as one of the top 100 marches of all time. He wrote the “M Fanfare” which is still played by the University of Michigan marching band prior to their playing the famous fight song. He has worked with many popular artists, including Danny Kaye, Dick Van Dyke, Leonard Bernstein, Barbra Streisand, and Neil Diamond. He has arranged music for several television series and serves as Vice President of creative development for Disney on Ice, having arranged all the music for the Disney on Ice shows, which he also writes and directs. Listen to this self-deprecatory charming man tell delightful stories of a life spent with music and theater like the ironic reason he taught himself to play piano.continue reading
9-12-17 Saxophone/flute/clarinet/piccolo artist, clinician, educator, music editor and recording artist Pete BarenBregge didn’t intend to become a musician. In school he joined the band “just because” and was given the clarinet because he had “long fingers.” Playing the clarinet was “okay,” but when his band master gave him a saxophone and introduced him to jazz, he found what he was meant to do and he “jumped in with both feet.” From then on Pete’s life revolved around his music and he became nationally known as a jazz musician. He was a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, (GRAMMYS), and the board of governors for the Washington, D.C. chapter of NARAS. He was musical director of the Columbia Jazz Band, and Musical Director of the prestigious United States Air Force Band’s Airmen of Note, where he performed as lead jazz tenor saxophonist during his 20-year military career. With the Frank Russo Group he recorded two CDs which received rave reviews in DownBeat and Jazz Times magazines. Listen to this soft-spoken, multitalented man describe a life dedicated to making, sharing and teaching music in every venue possible and listen to cuts from one of his highly praised CD’s – Point of Grace.
9-19-17 Roy Gerson,continue reading
Steve’s Mom says that when the piano arrived at their house eight year old Steve walked over to it and immediately began to pick out melodies. He says “I learned how to read music instantly, it was a language that spoke to me on a very special level, I looked at it and within days I could read anything.” He was understandably bored by the series of traditional piano lessons that followed, so he stopped taking them and just taught himself. Steve’s career included musical direction, accompaniment, playing for off Broadway and then Broadway shows, until a course with legendary orchestrator Don Sebesky completed his training and showed him what he was really meant to be/do. Listen to how he became the orchestrator for the smash hit Jersey Boys, the soon to be Broadway opening of the revival of Cole Porter’s Can-Can and the orchestrator for Noah Racey’s Pulse.continue reading