The Marywood University Department of Music, Theatre and Dance is pleased to welcome you to the Third Annual Festival dedicated to that great American art form……..JAZZ! We are committed to making this an ongoing event that honors the legends of jazz and examines the styles and repertoire that have been seminal to the evolution of this music as it exists today.
For this year’s festival we are honored to present the music of Mr. Sammy Nestico, who is considered one of the greatest composers, arrangers and educators of the second half of the twentieth century. Mr. Nestico’s career began in the 1940’s as a young virtuoso trombone player from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and continues to this very day. He is America’s most respected creator of music for performing organizations of every type and ability level. Sammy’s music is included on programs of elite professional ensembles all over the world, while also being offered at events featuring our youngest performers in their very earliest concert experiences. Many of today’s most internationally respected musicians found their initial inspirations while rehearsing and learning this wonderful repertoire and all of them credit that special experience with their decision to follow a similar path.
Our festival program will feature the works of Mr. Nestico in four concert offerings during this weekend. Each of the programs will be performed by ensembles of differing size, instrumentation and experience levels. There will be opportunities for high school students playing in some of their earliest jazz ensembles, right up to the world class, “seasoned” veterans of the NPRO. Each ensemble member during this tribute, regardless of their expertise and years of playing experience, will be unified by one common entity…the magnificent manuscripts that our honored guest has entrusted to us!
Sammy’s autobiography is appropriately entitled “The Gift of Music”. During the reading of this fascinating book, one finds that Mr. Nestico has written and performed all over the world and conducted and played for kings, emperors and presidents for almost seventy years; yet his most cherished experiences and his enduring memories center on the common people and children who have been most inspired and benefitted most from his creative genius. He has been, first and foremost, an educator who has been a leading figure in the development of our musical culture and is at the very center of those generous artists who are willing to pass that culture on to future generations of musicians.
It must be mentioned that many of the musical selections our audiences will hear during the Sammy Nestico Jazz Festival are original compositions or special arrangements done by Mr. Nestico and supplied to our musicians from his personal library! They were willingly offered to our department free of charge! Marywood University and the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, are deeply indebted to Sammy for his very real….. “gift of music” and are accepting his generosity as a sacred trust. Each of these incredible manuscripts is a masterpiece in its own right and almost all of them were available only through Mr. Nestico’s support of our program.
Many years ago, as a young high school band director, my father, Chet Heinze, told me…. “if Sammy Nestico wrote it, buy it; it’ll be great!” My dad was right, and I found out what generations of performers and directors have counted on for over fifty years…. Mr. Nestico’s music is timeless and perfect!!
It has been a privilege to study, rehearse and perform this repertoire, but most of all…it has been one of the greatest joys of my life to get to know Sammy and come to call him my friend. Those of you who have the opportunity to meet and greet him during the festival will surely agree with me. I am very thankful for Mr. Nestico’s music, but I am most grateful for the “Gift of Sammy” himself!
Enjoy the concert!
Tom Heinze, Marywood Jazz Studies