Home Stage

The WPI Stage Band (Rich Falco, director) will perform a Homecoming Concert on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 11am, on the outdoor performance stage at Higgins Labs.

September 26, 2013
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Jazz Comes Home

It’s a jazz homecoming, as big band swing, trumpeting fanfare, and clarion calls out to WPI alumni to celebrate. It’s a commemoration for the countless musicians whoever hit the downbeat to Sing a Song of Basie (as in Count) and jazz royalty.

Welcome home! The WPI Stage Band is waiting for you.

The current configuration of the group is a 21-piece, 21st century model, under the direction of Professor Richard Falco, a revered tempo setter, who has been at the helm of this award-winning ensemble for more than 20 years.

Asked what one can expect at a jazz homecoming, Falco says, “Performing at Homecoming presents an opportunity for me to re-connect with jazz alumni who come to support our program. They come up to the stage to meet the newest members.

"The 9-piece WPI Jazz Ensemble will perform at UMass/Amherst during the registration for the Walk for Cancer on Sunday, Sept. 29, beginning at 8:15am. The group has played for this annual event for the past six years as part of what Falco calls, “their community outreach mission.

“They also share so many personal stories about their musical experiences after WPI,” he says, “and how much music has influenced all aspects of their current careers.” Falco also notes that many former WPI Stage Band members are excited to introduce him to their families, especially their children. “All of whom are described as extremely talented little musicians, of course,” he says in jest.

This year’s program is typical of the WPI Stage Band’s expansive range that reaches from standard repertoire to the more Latin-tinged contemporary dance rhythms. Here’s a list of pieces the group intends to play: “Spanish Fire” (Michael Philip Mossman), “Thaditude” (Steve Wiest), “Chrysalis” (Tom Davis), “A New Day” (Sammy Nestico), and “La Fiesta” (Chick Corea).

Asked to comment on the selections and the strengths of the band, Falco says, “I want our homecoming program to be exciting and appealing to all age groups. We graduated a number of key players last year, so I was feeling the stress of finding just the right replacements.

“Fortunately, many gifted musicians auditioned again this year for seats in the WPI Stage Band and WPI Jazz Ensemble, and the seats are filled with enthusiastic and talented young musicians. The bands are, once again, finding their own personalities, which is always an exciting adventure for me.”

The 2013-14 WPI Stage Band

Saxophone section: Ryan Lang, Thomas deRito, Anthony DeCicco, Perry Franklin, Michael Derryberry

Trombone section: Corey Aday, Matt Kinkead, Brendan Henrich, Peter Raspe, Nicholas Aleles

Trumpet section: John Mastroianni, Johnathan Adams, Andrew Wood, Nicholas Mollica, Luke Perreault

Rhythm section: Andrew Strout (piano), Jeff Peters (bass), Jeremiah Campanelli and John Arnold (drums), Timothy Murcko (guitar), Mike Burns (vibraphone)

Homecoming at WPI continues to be a popular tradition. Now it’s a jazz happening with year-long import. “We have a great relationship with our jazz alumni and we join them in joint concerts on campus a few times a year,” Falco says.

“Two years ago, quite a few jazz alumni came by the stage immediately following our performance, and from that group, the WPI Jazz Alumni Ensemble grew. This group performs on and off campus both in concert and for functions. They now have a Jazz Alumni Facebook page with over 175 members.”

—Chet Williamson.    Image by Louis Despres

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