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FEATURED ALUMNI

DR. MICHAEL JOHN TROTTA
BM '02, MM '08

Composer, Michael John Trotta (b.1978) is a frequent guest conductor and clinician with a wide variety of ensembles throughout the country. His compositions are performed all over the world.

Dr. Michael John TrottaHe earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University. This Memorial Day, will conduct concert of his own compositions entitled Music of Stillness, Hope and Peace at Carnegie Hall. His forthcoming CD project Mystical Voices: where heaven and earth shall blend is in production with a release date set for 2015.

Dr. Trotta is currently the Director of Choral Activities, Music Department Coordinator, and Assistant Professor of Music at Virginia Wesleyan College. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife Rachel, a writer, artist and educator a living reminder of the M.C. Richards quote, “All of the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.”

 

 

Q & A

What kind of work are you doing now?

In the broadest sense, I have the privilege of helping people to discover that music has the power to allow people to experience the extraordinary in the present moment. As a composer, conductor, and educator, I get to take part in each step of the process creative process from inspiration to rehearsal through the performance and recording.

What is it like to have a successful career in music?

My musical life consists of my daily writing schedule of my own new compositions, six weekly rehearsals with my two choirs at Virginia Wesleyan, overseeing the music education classes and the music department, managing the
business aspects of being a composer and conductor, as well as frequent appearances as a guest conductor and clinician with choirs all over the country. Perhaps the most important thing for me to remember is that as much as I love being a musician, it is the rest of my life: family, friends, study, and reflection that gives me the energy to be successful in my career.

How did the Rowan University Music Department help you with reaching your goals?

I was very fortunate to have wonderful mentors throughout my time with the Rowan University Music Department. I had once in a lifetime opportunities like singing at Carnegie Hall, touring Europe as a tenor soloists, having a composition lesson with Sir David Wilcocks, and conducting with composer Morten Laridsen at the piano that shaped my overall musicianship. Of great importance was my time with the full time faculty themselves. Dr. Eugene Simpson, Dr. Lourin Plant, and Dr. Z. Randall Stroope all significantly impacted my future work as a choral conductor. Jon Garrison, Metropolitan Opera Tenor, was my primary voice teacher. I greatly enjoyed my theory studies with Dr. Robert Rawlins and score study with Sal Scarpa. Dr. Lili Levinowitz provided me with a solid music education background and the Rowan Education department is second to none. But perhaps the most significant goal that Rowan helped me achieve was finding a way to engage the community in inspiring musical performances through instilling in me a desire to be a great musician.

What advice do you have for current music students?

The little things you do everyday craft who you will become as a musician and a person. Do a little bit everyday, and before you know it, those little bits may very well add up to something extraordinary. It may not feel like it at the time, but practicing piano scales, preparing for a sight-singing test, studying for a music history exam, and memorizing you pieces for juries are the building blocks for making an impact in the community as a musician. After repeating these simple tasks over an extended period of time, they eventually become habits, the habits that enable you to wake up one day and realize that you have become who you have always wanted to be: a person who loves music so fully and completely that it ignites others to find the music within them, and share it with the world.

www.mjtrotta.com




JONATHAN BARNES ‘06

Jonathan Barnes is a versatile performer and educator. He currently performs with the prestigious U.S. Navy Band Commodores in Washington, D.C. Born and raised just outside of Baltimore, he was active in the New York and Philadelphia music scenes before enlisting in the U.S. Navy.

In addition to his busy schedule with the Commodores, Jonathan's work as a freelance trumpet player has enabled him to share the stage with artists such as John Fedchock, John Swana, Bobby Sanabria, Candido Camero, Bernadette Peters, Simone, Ruben Blades, Larry Harlow, Seneca Black, Marcus Belgrave, Bootsie Barnes, Denis Diblasio, and George Rabbai. Jonathan has performed at New York venues such as Lincoln Center, the Jazz Standard, Le Poisson Rouge, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Symphony Space, FB Lounge, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Manhattan Center, SOB's, and The Cutting Room, along with venues in Philadelphia such as the Kimmel Center and Chris' Jazz Cafe. He has also performed at the Verona Jazz Festival, the Telluride Jazz Celebration, and the Cape May Jazz Festival.

In 2009 Jonathan received a Master of Music degree in Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of Music. His teachers there included Scott Wendholt, Jon Faddis, Garry Dial, Phil Markowitz, David Liebman, Steve Slagle, and Justin DiCioccio.

Jonathan is passionate about sharing his love of music with students of all ages and is currently a contributor on The Trumpet Workshop, an educational website geared towards jazz trumpet players. Jonathan has presented master classes, taught big bands at the middle and high school levels, and worked with summer jazz camps. From 2009 to 2011, he served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Rowan University teaching music appreciation and music theory.

Q & A

What kind of work are you doing now?

I am currently serving as a musician in the Navy Band Commodores in Washington D.C. The Commodores are the premier big band of the United States Navy, and are stationed at the historic Washington Navy Yard. I also freelance around the D.C. metro area, and occasionally make it back up to the Philadelphia area for work.

What is it like to have a successful career in music?

It's a dream come true! I remember as a junior and senior in high school I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in college and beyond. I had two options: math or music. Somehow I chose music, and jazz performance at that! My parents were very supportive and I had some great teachers along the way; however, I knew that it would be difficult to make a steady living as a full-time musician. Being a full-time freelancer was a ton of fun, but it came with quite a bit of anxiety about money! Eventually, I was able to win the job with the Navy Band and now I do that full-time and freelance on the side. It's a thrill to wake up every day and know that I get to practice, perform, and write music, AND get paid a steady salary and benefits to do just that!

How did the Rowan University Music Department help you with reaching your goals?

First of all, Bryan Appleby-Wineberg saw potential in me even though I had a lot of embouchure problems. If it wasn't for his vision and support, I never would have been accepted as a music student. Second, Rowan offered two one-hour private lessons per week for jazz performance majors: one classical and one jazz. That was integral in helping me to become as versatile as possible. A lot of music schools don't offer that sort of opportunity for jazz majors. George Rabbai was another huge influence. He opened up the world of improvisation to me in a whole new light by encouraging me to transcribe the types of players that would help me learn the language. Finally, Rowan offered a large variety of ensembles, through which I was able to further learn how to play in those differing musical styles. Each ensemble director was able to push me to become a better musician: Denis DiBlasio, George Rabbai, John Pastin, Sal Scarpa, Tyrone Breuninger. The best asset of Rowan music has always been its faculty.

What advice do you have for current music students?

This is very cliche, but true! Follow your dreams. It really is worth it, because if you truly want to do something in music, you can make it happen. There will be obstacles, there will be setbacks; however, the joy of being able to work in a field that excites you is worth it. For some advice that is more specific to performance majors, I'll paraphrase George Rabbai: There is always room for good players. I take this to mean that if you do all you can to become the best possible musician that you can be, work will open up for you. It may take time, but it'll happen.