FREDONIA - Tony Caramia, professor of piano at the Eastman School of Music and a SUNY Fredonia graduate, will return to campus to present the recital "Dancing Keys" oodayat 6 p.m., at Rosch Recital Hall. The following evening, Caramia will play in a reunion concert of the 1970s Fredonia Jazz Ensemble. Both events are free and open to the public.
In the first part of the recital, Caramia offers music inspired by dance for solo piano, while selections by two jazz greats who have recently passed away are featured later in the program.
Caramia will perform a tango, a fox-trot and a dance-inspired selection by American composer/musician/lyricist Dana Suesse, who was known as "the girl Gershwin," along with selections by French composer Darius Milhaud and legendary jazz pianist/composer Dave Brubeck. A waltz medley featuring compositions by Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Mary Lou Williams, Ron Carter and Caramia precedes a short musical tribute to Marian McPartland and Brubeck that concludes the recital.
Caramia had the great fortune to play an improvisation of Duke Ellington's "In a Mellotone" with McPartland on her "Piano Jazz" program on NPR in 2003.
"Audiences seem to react favorably and excitedly to the unusual selection of pieces and the diversity of compositional styles, as well as to the integration of composed pieces along with improvised sounds, in the jazz waltzes," Caramia said.
Theme recitals have been a focus of Caramia, who plays both classical and jazz music, for two decades. "I have long been interested in being as creative in the selection of pieces for a recital as I have in the performance of them," he said.
Caramia performed this recital, or versions of it, at the Dakota Sky International Piano Festival, where he was a guest artist and teacher, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy and at Eastman's Faculty Artist Series in early September.
SUNY Fredonia Piano professor Linda Phillips heard "Dancing Keys" at Eastman and said it was outstanding, well-thought out, well-played and well-attended.
Three pieces by classical composer Milhaud were followed by two Brubeck pieces because Brubeck studied composition with Milhaud. "This is an example of how he interconnects and thinks through his programming," Phillips said.
At Eastman, Caramia serves as director of Piano Pedagogy Studies and coordinator of the Classical Piano Program. He is a frequent presenter at national and international workshops and a lecturer, judge and clinician. Caramia released, "Tribute," a CD featuring music of Ellington, McPartland and Brubeck, along with original compositions, in 2006.
Caramia has served as a judge for the American Jazz Piano Competition, the Crescendo Music Awards and the Young Texas Artists Competition and is a contributing editor for Clavier Companion Magazine and serves on the Editorial Committee of American Music Teacher. Recent solo piano publications include: "Shoo-fly Shuffle," "American Treasures," "Suite Dreams" and "Jazz Moods."
He has conducted numerous workshops in jazz piano for teachers at Music Teachers National Association national and state conventions, the International Association for Jazz Educators Teacher Training Institutes and the National Piano Teachers Institute.
For the Fredonia Jazz Ensemble reunion concert on Friday at 8 p.m., also at Rosch, Caramia will play Brubeck's "It's a Raggy Waltz" as a soloist and join trumpet player John Maguda, who was a part of the FJE and is now a member of the School of Music faculty, on "Body and Soul."
A 1973 graduate of SUNY Fredonia, Caramia studied under Claudette Sorel, a renowned concert pianist and teacher who was head of the piano area at the School of Music for 13 years. He returned to campus to perform at the dedication concert of the new Sorel Steinway in 2007 and, in 2008, in the Guest Artist Recital series.
SUNY Fredonia honored Caramia with an Outstanding Achievement Award in 2010.
"I was indeed very fortunate to attend Fredonia, where I learned a great deal about performing and teaching the piano," Caramia said. "I am thrilled to be returning, especially to perform with some of my colleagues and classmates from the '70s on Friday evening as part of the '70s Reunion Jazz Ensemble."