NEW YORK CITY – On November 9, 10, and 11, Rich DeRosa, the Grammy-nominated composer who has written and arranged the scores to twenty-nine ArtsPower musicals and dramas, was a guest conductor for Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in performance of the five special pieces he had arranged in honor of Leonard’s Bernstein’s 100th Birthday Celebration.
The performances took place in Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, located at Broadway at 60th Street in New York City.
“Leonard Bernstein personifies the melding of the jazz and classical worlds,” Rich said in a recent interview. He added, “Wynton Marsalis in his generation also personifies this as a performer and ultimately as a composer.”
Rich has been writing for Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since 2004, and his arrangements appear on four of Marsalis’ albums. He has also composed and arranged for Gerry Mulligan, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Mel Lewis Band, Ron Carter, and Patti Austin.
In addition to Rich’s respected stature in the jazz world, he is one of nation’s leading musical theatre composers having written twenty-nine ArtsPower shows with the company’s artistic director Greg Gunning. They have collaborated to create some of the touring theatre company’s most popular musicals, including The Rainbow Fish, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, and Are You My Mother?
“What’s so remarkable about Rich is his ability to compose and orchestrate in any musical genre,” said Mark Blackman, ArtsPower’s Founding Co-Director. “He and Greg Gunning continue to create beautifully rich musical scores for ArtsPower that I believe are unparalleled in our industry.”
Rich and Greg recently collaborated on their 29th show, Nugget and Fang, a musical for children in grades Pre-K to 3, which will begin its first national tour in January 2018.
Rich’s association with ArtsPower is predated by Mark and his twin brother Gary’s introduction to Clem DeRosa, Rich’s father, when they were in high school jazz band playing saxophone and trumpet, respectively.
Gary, who is ArtsPower’s other founding co-director, explained that encounter:
“In 1974, the Paramus High School Jazz Band performed at a band competition at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in Glassboro, New Jersey. Clem DeRosa, who led the movement to bring jazz education and music into middle schools across the country, was one of the judges who evaluated each band by speaking into a tape recorder during their performance. Listening to that tape after our performance gave me a real appreciation for Clem’s thorough understanding of the music and the pedagogy necessary to communicate his knowledge and critiques most effectively to young people.“
Gary also performed with Rich’s sister, Diane, when both toured Europe and the United States with jazz legend Clark Terry and his Big Bad Band in 1981. “Having this 43-year connection with the DeRosa family is something very special,” Gary added.