June 29, 2023

WCU's Criterions Jazz Ensemble Alumni Perform Free, Public Concert on July 20

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 on Thursday, July 20, at 7 p.m., in the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, Philips Memorial Building, 700 S. High Street, West Chester. The concert is FREE and open to the public, and will also be available via livestream at www.vimeo.com/wsom.Criterions alumni concert

An annual tradition, the Criterions concert, “Crites” for short, welcomes back to campus alumni old and young who played in the premier musical ensemble while at West Chester University. The concert 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. It is always such a pleasure to bring everyone together for two full days full of energy, friendship, and great music.”

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.  



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