CSUN music professor tackles new projects this spring

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Dr. John Roscigno, professor of music and director of orchestral studies, will take on some part-time projects this spring. They include gigs with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, the 2011 Arizona All-State Orchestra and TEMPO, a music group.

Although Roscigno guest-conducted last summer at the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, he’ll take the stage for the first time  Feb. 4 as the official music director.

Roscigno said he’s doing it for the love of teaching prodigies.

“I enjoy working with extremely talented young musicians. It makes being involved in music all the more worthwhile,” Roscigno said, which he added distinguishes the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic project from others in its category.

“I hope they take away memories of a great collaboration with conductor and professional musicians and a wonderful music-making opportunity in front of sold-out houses.”

Julia Heinen, professor of music at CSUN, said she has collaborated with Roscigno multiple times as conductor, piano and percussion player. Roscigno was always hell-bent on performing music, Heinen said, describing Roscigno as “consummate” and “meticulous.”

Having played clarinet for the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic for 10 years she said it is rare for orchestras to allow students to play.

“It’s really the only orchestra of its type in the world,” she said.

Heinen said she is motivated by Roscigno’s presence.

“I find his passion for creative music invigorating,” she said.

Heinen said upon joining CSUN, Roscigno impacted its music department tremendously.

“He brought the orchestra here (CSUN) to a new level,” she said. “Our students here see him as a conductor and a performer. He inspires them.”

Steve Thachuk, associate professor and coordinator of guitar studies, called Roscigno a “jack of all trades.”

Thachuk said his (Roscigno) dynamic abilities that include teaching percussion, piano and theory set him apart.

“He’s just a very well-rounded musician,” he added.

Thachuk said Roscigno is a gifted teacher in that he is able to motivate both high school and college kids. He said Roscigno’s patience and interaction with his students is important, as the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic works with young musicians.

“He’s very encouraging. He always pushes the orchestra, but in a good way,” Thachuk said.

Thachuk said he admires Roscigno’s commitment to his musical approach. He said Roscigno shows he enjoys musicianship, but still takes it seriously.

“He seems to really enjoy it all the time, though he’s also very serious,” he said.

Roscigno accomplished something that many don’t, Thachuk said.

“It’s hard to get a paid conducting gig. It’s really hard,” he said. “I’m happy for him. It’s great.”

Gigi Rabe, music lecturer, said she has known Roscigno for so long, she’s unable to remember when they met.

“We go way back,” she said.

She said they both  teach steel drums, a similarity driving their interaction over the years.

Roscigno’s work with steel drums is somewhat uncommon in classical music, Rabe said. He was drawn to the instrument and wanted to further his “arsenal of percussive instruments,” she added.

When Roscigno joined CSUN, he improved the music program’s visibility, Rabe said. Those made aware of it were not only the students, but the community as well, she said.

Rabe said Roscigno assisted in putting CSUN’s music department on the map by gaining attention from locals. She said the concerts have scored in the box office arena.

“My understanding is that the concerts sell out,” she said.

Nonetheless, Roscigno sets the bar high by striking a balance between being both affable and serious when working    with students.