DENTON, Texas (UNT) – College of Music jazz composition and arranging professor Richard DeRosa was recently named the new chief conductor of the Grammy award winning WDR Big Band, based in Germany. The appointment starts with the 2014-15 season.
Last fall, DeRosa traveled to Cologne, Germany, and spent 10 days with WDR Big Band while the band prepared and recorded music he had written. The band, which was in need of a new conductor, chose DeRosa because he is an experienced and imaginative arranger who commands a wide range of musical styles. This fits in well with the varied repertoire of the WDR Big Band. West German Broadcasting company owns the band, which is similar in idea to the former NBC Symphony Orchestra.
"I am really delighted that Rich DeRosa will be taking over the position of chief conductor of the WDR Big Band," said WDR Radio Director Wolfgang Schmitz. “Rich writes for the great figures of jazz and his orchestra work is outstanding. His stylistic diversity reflects his wide view of music. This corresponds exactly with the orientation which we pursue with the WDR Big Band."
At the University of North Texas, DeRosa teaches jazz composition/arranging. He has extensive experience as a conductor, and continues to write and perform music while teaching at UNT. He will continue to teach at the College of Music while conducting the band.
It’s important for students to learn from working musicians because those professors can impart real-world experiences and knowledge, DeRosa said.
“I also hope that my increased visibility will translate into attracting even more students to our world-class program, in particular to the jazz composition/arranging area,” DeRosa said.
DeRosa has toured and recorded with jazz greats like Gerry Mulligan and Bob Brookmeyer, and has produced arrangements for leading ensembles like Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Big Band of Mel Lewis. DeRosa has also composed for television, film and theater, working on background music for Another World, As the World Turns, The Guiding Light, various commercials and PBS documentaries, and original scores for national touring theater company ArtsPower.
"I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity to become the new chief conductor and arranger of the most successful jazz ensemble in Europe, the WDR Big Band. My past experiences with these truly outstanding musicians have been very rewarding and I look forward to sustaining their great tradition as did my more recent predecessors Bill Dobbins and Mike Abene," said DeRosa.
One of the first concerts DeRosa will conduct with the WDR Big Band will include jazz vocalist Kurt Elling at the Berlin Jazz Festival.