Charles Ruggiero


Charles Ruggiero (b. June 19, 1947, Bridgeport, CT) holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and Michigan State University (Ph.D. in composition, 1979). His principal composition teachers were H. Owen Reed and Jere Hutcheson. Ruggiero has been a university instructor since 1971, teaching in four disciplines: composition, music theory, jazz studies, and percussion. Currently Ruggiero is professor of music at Michigan State University, where he has taught composition and music theory since 1973.

As a composer, Ruggiero is the recipient of numerous grants and commissions, including a 1987-88 National Endowment for the Arts Consortium Commissioning Grant, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Special Awards every year since 1987, and several MSU All-University Research Grants.

Three of Ruggiero's compositions which feature the saxophone, Three Blues for Saxophone Quartet, Dances and Other Movements, and Interplay (all published by Dorn Publications, Inc.), were written for saxophonists James Forger and Joseph Lulloff. These works have been performed in Canada, Japan, and throughout the United States. Notable performances have been given at Michigan State University's Seventh Annual Composer's Symposium of New Music, the American Society of University Composers Region V Conference and C. Buell Lipa Festival of Contemporary Music (Ames, IA), the Midwest Music Conference (Ann Arbor, MI), a Composer's Inc. concert at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, several North American Saxophone Alliance Regional Conventions, several Annual Fischoff Music Competitions (South Bend, IN), Jordon Hall (Boston, MA), the Smithsonian Institute (Washington, DC), the Pro Musicis Foundation Twentieth Anniversary Celebration Series at Florence Gould Hall at the French Institute (New York, NY), Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the 9th World Saxophone Congress (Kawasaki, Japan). Ruggiero's Interplay is featured on a 1997 Channel Classics compact disc by Joseph Lulloff and Philip Hosford, and the movement "Octaves" from Interplay is included on a 2000 AUR compact disc, "America's Millennium Tribute to Adolphe Sax, Volume III."

Ruggiero's From Two Ramparts (1992), for wind symphony, was performed at the 1992 North Central Convention of the College Band Directors National Association and the National Band Association. His Fractured Mambos (1990) for tuba and electronic tape was performed by Philip Sinder at the 1990 International Tuba/Euphonium Symposium (Japan) and is included on Sinder's compact disc recording "Aerodynamics" (Mark, 1995). In the May/June 1996 issue of "American Record Guide," Kilpatrick called Fractured Mambos "one of the most dramatic and entertaining electroacoustic works I have ever heard." After Midnight, for piano, was given its premiere by Deborah Moriarty at the Sixth Fontana Music Festival (Shelbyville, MI, 1985) and has been performed by Sara Okamoto in several midwestern states ("Classical Exposure" tour, 1991) and by Eui-Kyung Erica Ohm at the Seoul Arts Center, South Korea (1994). These and other of Ruggiero's compositions also have been performed at numerous universities and colleges throughout every region of the United States.

The premiere of Ruggiero's Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra was given by saxophonist Joseph Lulloff, conductor Leon Gregorian, and the Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra at MSU's Wharton Center for the Performing Arts in 1996. Ruggiero's Concerto received an Honorable Mention in the 2000 Annual ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Competition for new large-ensemble compositions (the concerto was one of the finalists out of 245 entries) and is included on the AUR compact disc "Joseph Lulloff Plays the Saxophone Music of Colgrass, Dahl, and Ruggiero" (released in 2000).

Although his compositional style is eclectic, much of Ruggiero's music reflects his lifelong interest in jazz. For example, one of Ruggiero's compositions, Fanfares, Growls, and Shouts for Six Trumpets, was inspired by the trumpet virtuosi who populated Duke Ellington's bands from the 1920s until Ellington's death in 1974. This work was performed at the 1998 Conference of the International Trumpet Guild held at the University of Kentucky. Another example of Ruggiero's jazz-related writing is his concert setting for alto saxophone and piano of Billy Strayhorn compositions. In 2000 this arrangement was performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the North American Saxophone Alliance National Convention (Phoenix, AZ), and several universities.

Ruggiero is active as a jazz drummer and has performed with such notable jazz musicians as Marcus Belgrave, Randy Brecker, Nick Brignola, Pete Christlieb, Eddie Daniels, Nathan Davis, Eliane Elias, Carl Fontana, Hal Galper, Milt Hinton, Robert Hurst, Clay Jenkins, Rich Matteson, Rick Margitza, John Mehegan, Mark Murphy, Frank Potenza, Kim Richmond, Sal Salvador, Woody Shaw, Jim Snidaro, Phillip Strange, Sunny Wilkinson, Kai Winding, Rodney Whitaker, and many outstanding Michigan-based artists. Ruggiero directed and performed in the Michigan State University Improvisation Ensemble from 1974-78 and was a cofounder, with pianist Ron Newman, of the Michigan State University Faculty Jazz Trio and Quartet (1980-1995).

In the 1990's Ruggiero performed jazz frequently with his Michigan State University colleague saxophonist Joseph Lulloff, for whom Ruggiero currently is composing a jazz-influenced piece for solo tenor saxophone which will be premiered at the World Saxophone Congress's forthcoming international convention (Montreal, 2000). Ruggiero's Blues, Time, Changes for Bassoon and String Quartet, will premiered and recorded by bassoonist Barrick Stees and members of the Eastern Michigan University Faculty String Quartet in the spring and summer of 2000.

Ruggiero studied jazz drumming with Pete D'Addario and Harry Ashmore and percussion with Vic Firth, former principal percussionist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1970-71 he was instructor of percussion at the Weston School of Music and the University of Bridgeport (both in Connecticut).

Early in his career Ruggiero served as director of Michigan State University's jazz and new-music ensembles. From 1988 to the present, Ruggiero has served as chairperson of the music theory area of MSU's School of Music. In the 1990's Ruggiero's Set Analysis Programs (1986) and CASAP: Computer-Assisted Set Analysis Program (1990) for the analysis of atonal music were used at many colleges and universities in North America, Korea, and Australia.

Charles Ruggiero lives in Okemos, MI, with his wife, Pat, and their four children.

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