I couldn’t go to many concerts this season because of a very tight schedule, but I managed to catch one not-to-miss event: on April 28, the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at New York University presented a celebration concert of Dinu Ghezzo’s retirement after 30 years at NYU – where, thank goodness for that – he will remain in a professor emeritus capacity and continue to be involved in a number of projects in both conducting and composition. This concert was a tribute to his major contribution to the composition program at NYU. Above and beyond teaching, he acted as a cultural ambassador for NYU in creating many international programs in Europe and Asia. I am glad I had the chance to study with him some twenty years ago. I still remember his exciting presentations, his positive energy and relentless enthusiasm for music.

But what I would like to emphasize here is that Dinu Ghezzo is, beyond his duties as an educator, an important composer, whose music is published both in Europe and in the U.S. and has been presented in major venues throughout the world, from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Helsinki, and has been critically acclaimed as “startlingly beautiful”, “haunting”, “exuberant”, “striking”, which does not begin to describe the unique style of his work. From a postmodern perspective, Dinu Ghezzo’s music encompasses and transcends the musics of his time, from Eastern European folk song to post-serialism, aleatory composition, experimental techniques such as prepared piano which he uses to perfection, to post-minimalism and onward. But ultimately, it has soul, and that’s why it touches me. Last fall I heard a clarinet and piano piece by him, Aphorisms (brilliantly performed by Esther Lamneck and Marilyn Nonken) and months later, I find I still try to recall its mood.

Talking about feelings – even though Dinu’s concert was planned for months in advance, upon the passing of his good friend and member of the NYU faculty, Ron Mazurek (which took place a couple of days before the event), he was compelled at the very last minute to change the entire program to include some of Mazurek’s compositions: Rockaby, for voice and piano, and Satori, for clarinet and tape. I found this very touching and most generous. At various points in the concert, we were surprised by the appearance of a Romanian folk singer in traditional costume, performing Dinu’s just-finished Easter Laments in memory of his old friend; that was truly heartbreaking.

Dinu Ghezzo’s other pieces on this concert included: Shadow Dances, an exciting orchestral piece which he conducted; Doina, a semi-improvisational piece from 1998 featuring Christine Ghezzo, a lovely modern-voice soprano; Music for Flutes and Tape (Wendy Luck performer); Imaginary Voyages, for clarinet, piano and cello (Esther Lamneck, Dan Barrett and Marilyn Nonken performers).

Other features on the program included Joseph Pehrson’s electronic work Microproj, with a sparkling and unexpected choreography by his wife, Linda Past; and a new work by John Gilbert, Becoming Cassandra, including state-of-the-art media.

More information on Dinu Ghezzo is available on the web at: http://pages.nyu.edu/~ddg1/
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