Grove City College Director of Bands Dr. Joseph M. Pisano ’94 is having a great year with the College’s ensemble programs and exciting on- and off-campus musical events.
On Jan. 10, Pisano will again serve as a guest conductor for the Armstrong County (Pa.) Senior High County Band Festival at Armstrong High School. In November, he guest conducted the New York State School Music Association State Junior High Festival in Akron, N.Y., which featured middle-school students from over 40 school districts. Pisano was recently selected to conduct the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 5 Senior High School Band Festival in January of 2018.
Pisano has a long history of providing unique opportunities for Grove City College band students, including bringing in renowned guest composers to work with ensembles and providing the community a chance to see those composers in action during performances.
“This year we will be bringing in the famed composer Robert Foster Jr. to work with our students at our March concert. Mr. Foster is a fantastic composer and educator whose works are well known. Since I began serving as the Concert Band and Wind Ensemble conductor at Grove City I have been able to bring in a number of amazing composers to work with and conduct our groups, including composers Dr. Travis Weller, Mr. James Swearingen and Mr. Patrick Burns. Grove City College has a long history of providing its music students with unbelievable opportunities like these.”
In October, Pisano took the Wolverine Marching Band and one of the College’s jazz ensembles to Orlando, Fla., to perform at a number of venues at Walt Disney World, including Main Street USA and Disney Springs.
“It was an amazing opportunity and experience for the students – I was excited when the Disney Youth representatives told me that not only was it a pleasure to work with and hear such a fine group of students, they also gave us an open invitation to perform there at any time in the future.”
Another 2016 highlight was the formation of a pep band for both the men’s and women’s basketball games that he said “has added a whole new element to the games – most Division III schools don’t have a men’s basketball pep band, but we have a pep band that performs for both.”
The past year also saw the first Jazz Band Dance at the College that was open to both the campus and community. The jazz ensemble performed nearly 75 swing and pop charts for the formal dance. “I was expecting about 100 people to show up, but over 350 people attend the event,” Pisano said. “It was literally wall-to-wall dancing and an explosively fun environment. We truly have an outstanding band program at the college and word is getting out.”
The Grove City College band programs consists of a 170-plus member marching band, large concert band, select wind ensemble, pep band, two 21-piece jazz bands and numerous smaller instrumental ensembles.
“With a band program of our size and I caliber, I like to tell prospective students to think of us more like a Division I music program with more band opportunities, but only at a much smaller-sized college,” Pisano said.
Looking forward, Grove City College will be hosting the 2017 Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Band Festival Feb. 10 through 12. The College last hosted the festival, which wraps up with a public concert at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 12 in Pew Fine Arts Center, in 1993. Pisano has served as the secretary of the Pennsylvania Collegiate Bandmasters Association (PCBA) for several years and was recently selected to be the vice-president of the organization.
“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the organization and I was very pleased that Col. Thomas H. Plamatier – the leader and commander of the United States Army Band ‘Pershing’s Own’ from 2011 -2014 – agreed to be the guest conductor for the event,” Pisano said. “There will be students from 32 colleges and universities represented at our intercollegiate concert. It’s truly a cross-representation of the best music students from the state and a must-see event.”
Pisano, a professor of music and assistant chair of the Department of Music, teaches jazz courses and wind conducting classes. He is an active writer for multiple magazines including Teaching Music Magazine, In Tune Monthly Music Magazine and School Band and Orchestra. He received his undergraduate degree in music education from Grove City College, his masters in wind and orchestral conducting from the State University of New York at Binghamton and his Ph.D. in music education with a minor in Instructional Technology from Kent State University.
For more information about the Department of Music at Grove City College, please visit www.gcc.edu/music.