Ds Scholarship

Herb Geller Memorial Scholarship concert series starts Saturday

ROME — The Herb Geller Memorial Scholarship concert series will kick-off its 2022 season with a free jazz recital “PREformance” by Rick Montalbano and Darryl Slesznski at 2 pm Saturday, March 12, at the First Presbyterian Church, 108 Court St.

The instrumental program will include more than a dozen popular standards, as well as a special appearance by vocalist Julie Falatico Montalbano performing “Lullaby of Birdland.”

The inaugural jazz collaboration between the two instrumentalists, who have known each other since high school, provides a rare opportunity for Montalbano to play a grand piano and Slesznski to premiere a brand new soprano sax along with his familiar alto, in a resonant acoustic setting.

Montalbano began a long career as keyboardist, composer, arranger, music director, band leader and jazz educator in the 1960s and has played, toured and recorded with hundreds in the “who’s who” of great jazz and pop entertainers. He also now enjoys vocalizing in duets with his wife, frequently gigging at local and regional venues.

Slesznski’s musical career dates back to 1970 when he performed with the first two New York State All-State Stage Bands, followed by the Crane School of Music Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Bands at SUNY-Potsdam. Upon return to Utica, he played with the Chick Esposito and Sal Alberico big bands, and has been a member of many top-flight local pop/rock bands, notably Classified and Soul Injection.

HGMSC also plans several more free PREformances throughout the year, culminating in the annual, large Geller Tribute Band concert on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7 pm at Rome Free Academy.

Also being presented at the Rome First Presbyterian Church on May 28, at 3 pm, will be a joint pops concert of selections from The Beatles, Gershwin, Ellington, and Monk Rowe, with musicians from the Alliance Classical Players and student recipients of Geller scholarships .

June 26 at 3 p.m. will herald “Look Ma, Four Hands,” with Jo Ann Geller and Bruce Smith performing a new program of classical, pop and jazz selections on the Grace Episcopal Church grand piano at 306 Elizabeth St. in Utica.

And on Sept. 24 at 3 pm, also at Rome’s First Presbyterian Church, HGMSC artistic director and clarinetist John Flaver will conduct a chamber winds ensemble in Serenade for Winds by Strauss, Petite Symphonie by Charles Gounod, and the Finale from Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, arranged for solo clarinet and clarinet choir, featuring Jeff Geller.

The Herb Geller Memorial Scholarship is awarded to graduating seniors at Rome Free Academy and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School who attend college with a music concentration. Five scholarships have been awarded so far totaling $2,750.

Those unable to attend the free PREformance and Tribute Band concerts may still donate at www.Paypal.me/gellerscholarship, or checks to: Geller Scholarships, PO Box 186, Verona, NY 13478.

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