Bloomsburg University and the Celebrity Artist Series Presents: Jazz flutist Galen Abdur-Razzaq

Bloomsburg University and the Celebrity Artist Series Presents: Jazz flutist Galen Abdur-Razzaq

Jazz flutist Galen Abdur-Razzaq recalled working as a music teacher at a high school in East Orange, N.J., during the early 1980s when a principal threatened to “take me outside and fight. One of the band members had to hold me back,” Abdur-Razzaq, now 71, recently recalled by phone from his Orlando-area home.

He had refused to work cafeteria duty as the principal had ordered, and that didn’t sit well with his boss. That run-in with the principal ended the Montclair, New Jersey, native’s short-lived school teaching career. “I couldn’t do it any more,” lamented Abdur-Razzaq, who studied at Boston’s renown Berklee College of Music.

For the past 38 years, Abdur-Razzaq has instead been touring colleges across the country to teach young men and women about the history of jazz and the Civil Rights movement, which Abdur-Razzaq lived through.

Abdur-Razzaq will bring his Civil Rights lessons and the music of his jazz quartet, which includes a pianist, bassist and drummer, to Bloomsburg University’s Carver Hall Tuesday, Feb. 26, for a free lecture and performance from 7-8:30 p.m.

BU is among over 100 colleges Abdur-Razzaq will visit this year with stories like the late John F. Kennedy’s 1963 presidential pardon of a black man, an unheard act during the Civil Rights era. JFK granted the pardon to jazz pianist Hampton Hawes after Hawes’ conviction for heroin possession. “JFK went to see (Hawes) perform as president and liked him so much he pardoned him,” Abdur-Razzaq said. “That a president would commute and African-American’s sentence was unbelievable.”

Abdur-Razzaq also speaks about the little-known contributions to the Civil Rights movement of white musical artists like crooners Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and late composer Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein helped fund the Black Panther party for a time, according to Abdur-Razzaq. “I call them the messengers” Abdur-Razzaq said of jazz musicians. “They’re just as important as the prophets on the planet. Well, maybe not to that degree. But they were unbelievable messengers. If you’re blessed enough to understand the music, you’re able to benefit from what they had to say through their instruments.”

Abdur-Razzaq’s musical lineage might be described as royal. He counts jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath, now in his 90s, as his musical mentor. Heath performed alongside jazz legends John Coltrane and Charlie Parker during the big band era of he 1940s, and Heath would later replace Coltrane in a group led by Miles Davis. Abdur-Razzaq, who talks with Heath weekly to this day, said he met his future mentor while in his 20s and attending Saturday afternoon musical workshops in Harlem.

Abdur-Razzaq fell in love with the flute at the early age of 10 when he heard a teacher play the instrument at school. “He didn’t play it all that well,” Abdur-Razzaq said with a laugh, “but I loved the sound of it. I was hooked. I had a love for the drums (as well). But after my mom told me I couldn’t play the drums, I said, ‘No problem.’ I fell in love with the flute. I just heard it once and thought it was the most beautiful sounding instrument.”

Abdur-Razzaq, who owns an Orlando-based musical entertainment company called Flute Juice Productions, will also host a Poetry of Jazz workshop earlier that day at Carver Hall, from 1-2 p.m. The afternoon workshop will feature Abdur-Razzaq with BU student musicians and poets, as well as community members from the River Poets in Bloomsburg.

The workshop and the evening presentation are free and open to the public. Bloomsburg University’s College of Liberal Arts, Celebrity Artist Series and Multicultural Affairs sponsor both events. For additional information, contact the university box office at: 570-389-4409.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,900 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.

Warm up with the music and dance stylings of the Havana Cuba All-Stars

Warm up with the music and dance stylings of the Havana Cuba All-Stars

Randall Presswood, the Executive Director of Performing Arts & Programming at Bloomsburg University wants you to break out of the winter blues and warm up with the Latin music and salsa dance stylings of the Havana Cuba All-Stars this Friday night at the Haas Center for the Arts. We sat down with Randall to find out a little more about this exciting event and other things going on with the Celebrity Artist Series.

Art of PA: So I understand you have a big event coming up this Friday, can you tell me a little more about it?

Randall Presswood: Yes, the event is called A Fiesta Cubana and it features The Havana Cuba All Stars which are made up of some of Cuba’s greatest musicians and dancers. With rhythms and melodies from the cha cha to the rumba, from “Son Cubano” style to the salsa, the All-Stars will showcase a wide variety of Cuban beats. The group is inspired by and dedicated to promoting the entire tapestry of Cuban music through a fresh, contemporary lens.

In their upcoming “Asere”—or “Friendship”—tour, the All-Stars will be backed by three of Cuba’s finest dancing couples. With the greatest dancers and musicians of Cuba working in tandem, the American encore of the Havana Cuba All-Stars’ tour will be a spirited spectacle of song and dance, exemplifying Cuba’s greatest musical traditions.

AoP: Wow that sounds like an awesome evening of music and dance! But I understand this isn’t the first time the group has been to to the states?

RP: That is correct. The group actually went on tour from 2016-17 after the United States opened up its relationship to Cuba. They have been on our list of desired artists to book and things came together for Friday’s performance. This time around they are bringing an added bonus of five dancers which should help liven things up for the show. They also have a few workshops planned for the afternoon before the show.

AoP: Oh really? Can you tell me more about these workshops?

RP: Absolutely. On Friday from 2:15 – 3:15 we are inviting area percussion students and the general public for a free workshop in the Haas Music Room on Latin percussion. Students will be able to see how Cuban percussion is formulated and played. Then from 3:45 – 4:45 the dancers from The Havana Cuba All Stars will host a salsa dance workshop. This event is also open to the public and the only prerequisite is you must be at least 12 years of age or older and dress appropriately for lots of movement. There is no prerequisite and dancers of all skill levels are invited. Both workshops are free to attend.

AoP: That is really awesome. So essentially you can have an entire afternoon and evening of Latin music if you really wanted to?

RP: That’s the plan. Learn a few new moves, grab a bite to eat at one of the great Bloomsburg restaurants and then join us for the concert in the evening.

AoP: That sounds like a perfect afternoon and evening. This event must have been in the works for quite a while to make everything fall into place.

RP: Actually this event was put together in about the time we normally have to do just the planning for a typical performance. We were asked by the President of Bloomsburg University to add a show for the spring semester and got to work and lined everything up in about 8 weeks. For some of these tours, the stars have to align and we have to look at the travel schedule for an act to make the trek to Bloomsburg worthwhile.

AoP: Wow, 8 weeks is not a lot of time, but glad it all worked out.

RP: Yeah, this is not our first time having to work fast. Our normal schedule with the Celebrity Artist Series has us hosting anywhere from eleven to eighteen events per year. With the new University President, our programming is sort of on a hiatus but we hope to keep bringing big acts to our area.

AoP: Yeah, I took a look at some of your past history of shows and was quite impressed! Are their any shows you are particularly proud of?

RP: The Celebrity Artist Series is celebrating it’s 34th year of activities and looking back, it always makes me smile when we are able to bring Broadway performances before they go to Broadway.We did that with The Illusionists, and we were able to be first run venues for hits such as, Bullets Over Broadway, American Idiot, and Elf the Musical to name a few.  In fact, we were the 3rd stop for the Bullets tour.  Broadway to Bloomsburg, and back.  We’ve been fortunate to have this as our producing method for a number of years.  But it was not without hard-work.   I’ve worked with the Broadway producing agents for 20 years to develop this terrific relationship. It’s the same caliber of performance without the on-broadway price. We’ve had sell out shows and featured some great names like Carol Channing, Marcel Marceau, Emanuel Ax, Roberta Flack, and many more. On average we’ve entertained anywhere from 7,500 – 10,000 patrons and bring close to $250,000 into the local economy.

AoP: Wow! That is quite the impact. Are most of those in the crowd from Bloomsburg?

RP: Actually no, When we hosted The Illusionist, we had people come from 19 different states to see the show. It was impressive that people all the way from Michigan, and even Florida made the trip to see a show in our theater.

AoP: That is simply incredible. So if anyone would like to check out Friday’s performance how would they do it?

RP: Tickets are easy to get. You can order them by phone by calling 570-389-4409, online at, or at the box office until 8PM the night of the show. Tickets are just $26 for the general public, $20 for seniors 65 and older, and $13 for children under 12 years of age and also Bloomsburg University students. The show is Friday February 8, 2019 @ 7:30PM at the Mitrani Hall Bloomsburg, PA. We hope to see a lot of your readers in attendance.

AoP: Thanks! Let’s get out of the winter blues and warm up with some Cuban music and dance!

The Bloomsburg Music Department is Excited to Announce Their Spring 2019 Season

The Bloomsburg Music Department is Excited to Announce Their Spring 2019 Season

We wanted to share with you the incredible number of events scheduled from now until May that the Bloomsburg University Musical Department has coming up. Their is something for everyone including recitals, jazz ensembles, a pops concert, and more!

Spring 2019

For information about any music division events, call 570-389-4284 to reach the department secretary.

Student Honors Recital – Thursday, February 7, at 7:00 p.m. Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts.

Guest Recital – Wednesday, February 13, at 7:30 p.m. . Payton MacDonald, voice and marimba, Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts.

University-Community Orchestra –Sunday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m. “Concerto Competition Winners” Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts.

Faculty Recital – Wednesday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. Amelia Garbisch, soprano. “A Celebration of American Song” Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Student Recital – Sunday, March 24, at 2:30 p.m. Sarah Anderson, clarinet. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Student Recital – Tuesday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. Aaron Eldred/Jonathan Shanley, guitars. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Voice Studio Recital – Wednesday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. Alan Baker and Amelia Garbisch, voice faculty. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Student Recital – Friday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m. Krysta Moyer, clarinet. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Guest Recital – Thursday, April 4, at 7:00 p.m. “Dez Cordas”, Craig Butterfield, bass and Matthew Slotkin, guitar. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Student Recital – Wednesday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. Shane Panagakos, guitar. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Husky Singers – Friday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. Alan Baker, conducting. Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts

BU Concert Choir/NEPA Choral Society – Saturday, April 13, at 7:00 p.m. “Annalies”. Alan Baker, conducting. Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts.

Percussion Ensemble –Tuesday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. Gifford Howarth, director. Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts.

Jazz Concert – Thursday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m. Stephen Clickard, director. Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts.

University Concert Band Spring Concert – Wednesday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. Annual spring concert conducted by Stephen Clickard. Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts.

University-Community Orchestra and Women’s Choral Ensemble Concert – Saturday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m David Tedford and Amelia Garbisch, conducting. Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts.

Knoebel’s Grove “Pops” Concert – Sunday, April 28. Jazz Band at 2 p.m. and Concert Band at 5:00 p.m. Annual Park concert, weather permitting. Stephen Clickard conducting.

Guitar Ensemble –Tuesday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. Matthew Slotkin, director. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Piano Studio Recital – Wednesday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m. Charisse Baldoria, piano faculty. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

Young Artists’ Recital – Saturday, May 4, at 1:00 pm and 3:30 p.m. Competition Event. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall.

BU Players have an exciting season for 2019

BU Players have an exciting season for 2019

The students and faculty at Bloomsburg University have an exciting season for 2019 planned. Below is a current list of what to look forward to in 2019.

Good Kids

By Naomi Iizuka (2015)
Directed by Dr. Carrie Winship
Performances February 27 through March 3, 2019
Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 3:00pm
Alvina Krause Theatre, 226 Center St, in Downtown Bloomsburg
Tickets are Free to BU Students with ID, $6 for Adults, $4 for Students/Seniors
Tickets available in advance at the Haas Center for the Arts Box Office on the campus of Bloomsburg University or at the Door Starting One Hour Before Curtain

About the Play: Good Kids explores how a sexual assault at a high school party, documented and distributed on social media, shocks the student community and evokes surprisingly varied responses. The recollections and the rumors of the incident incite conflict between the “good kids” in the school community. When everyone has their own truth in the world of social media, can justice exist and what are the repercussions?

Content Warning: Sexual Assault, Underage Drinking, Bullying, Mature Language

MADISON. So why is it that every time some kid does something totally messed up, everybody’s like, ‘I don’t get it. He was such a good kid. Why?’

Themes: Truth, rumors, social media, sexual assault, ethics, appearances, consent culture, bullying

Art-ticulation: The Body and Voice Show

Student-driven Project Initiated by Brandon Leiphart
March 2019

Tales from the Nightmare City of R’lyeh

Student-driven Project Initiated by Chris Thorne
April 2019

9th Annual Dance Minor Concert

Choreographed by Students, Faculty and Guest Artists
Professor Julie Petry, Artistic Director
Performances Sunday, April 28 and Monday, April 29
K.S. Gross Auditorium in Carver Hall
Tickets are free.

About the Dance Concert: The concert is inspired by a variety of topical themes and explores a vast array of exciting dance styles. The Dance Minor Concert blends student, faculty and staff talents as choreographers, dancers, lighting designers, costume designers, and sound designers.

Themes: To be determined.

For audition information for all plays and musicals, visit the Auditions page.

For information about joining the dance program, visit the Dance Minor page.

Connect with BU Players

 and the Backstage with BU Players blog

The Bloomsburg Music Department is Excited to Announce Their Spring 2019 Season

Bloomsburg University Musical Department has a packed schedule coming up…

We wanted to share with you the plethora of events scheduled from now until the middle of December that the Bloomsburg University Musical Department has coming up. Their is something for everyone including guitar ensembles, jazz ensembles, wind instruments, holiday music, and more!

Wind Ensemble Concert
Wednesday, November 14 at 7:30 PM
Stephen Clickard, conducting
Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts

Bloomsburg University Community Orchestra Concert
Sunday, November 18th at 2:30 PM
Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts

Jazz Ensemble Concert
Thursday, November 29, at 7:30 PM
Stephen Clickard conducting
Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts

Guitar Ensemble Concert
Wednesday, December 5, at 7:30 PM
Matthew Slotkin, directing
Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts

See a sample of Matthew’s guitar work:

“Carols by Candlelight” Concert
Thursday, December 6 and Friday, December 7, at 7:30 PM
Featuring the Concert Choir, Husky Singers, and Women’s Choral Ensemble.
First Presbyterian Church, 345 Market St., Bloomsburg
No admission fee, but tickets are required.
Tickets are available at the Mitrani box office (570) 389-4409

Tuba Christmas
Saturday, December 8 at 4:00 PM
Concert at 7:00 PM
Contact Michael Parker for information: [email protected]
Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts

Jazz Consortium
Wednesday, December 12, at 7:30 PM
Directed by Stephen Clickard
Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall

Hear more from Stephen Clickard: