July 7, 2021

Wells School of Music's Criterions Jazz Ensemble Alumni TO PERFORM FREE Public Concert on July 21st

Alumni of the Criterions Jazz Ensemble, out of West Chester University’s Wells School of Music, will take the stage for a FREE, public concert onCriterions Alumni Thursday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m., in the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, Philips Memorial Building, 700 S. High Street, West Chester. The concert will also be available via livestream at www.vimeo.com/wsom.

An annual tradition, the Criterions concert, “Crites” for short, welcomes alumni old and young who played in the premier musical ensemble while at West Chester University back to campus for a concert that includes jazz, swing, and big band music. This year’s ensemble includes members who have gone on to successful careers as professional musicians, music teachers and music executives. Dave DiValentino, a band director in the North Penn school district, is the director of the alumni ensemble.

DiValentino says, “The Criterions reunion always has an amazing energy to it. These musicians look forward all year to getting together with fellow alumni from across all generations and to performing some of the best jazz standards ever written. This year will be extra special because we are back in ‘full-force’ after lower participation than usual last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Criterions will play from the big band literature that includes the music of Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton and more. The concert coincides with the Wells School of Music’s Summer Jazz Camp and students from the camp will perform in a few of the opening numbers. Saxophonist Jonathan Ragonese, also the Director of Jazz Studies at West Chester University’s Wells School of Music, will be featured in the concert.

“Ragonese plays all over the tri-state area. For local audiences to have the chance to see him perform for free is a real treat,” adds DiValentino.

The Criterions are the longest running University jazz band in the country. Originating in the 1920s, they were a student-led ballroom dance band and provided entertainment for University dances, proms and post-Friday night games. As times changed, the “Crites” became a Faculty-led Jazz Ensemble by the early 1980’s, when the School of Music began Jazz curricula. They are known for their mastery of American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century.  

West Chester University’s Wells School of Music offers students an outstanding opportunity in concentrated performance and musicianship. The School’s superior performance and practice venues include 22 new Steinways, Skinner organ, tech lab, Roland piano lab, and more. Students study with renowned faculty who have dual careers as dedicated educators and professional musicians. Faculty provide private lessons for all music students and are the directors for numerous student ensembles. The School supports a wide variety of performance degrees, including a Bachelor of Music in Performance, as well as a Master of Music in Performance. Graduates pursue successful careers at major institutions and teach music education at home and abroad.


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