TU welcomes jazz drummer Mark Guiliana for week-long residency

By Rebecca Kirkman on November 16, 2019

The drummer, composer and producer will teach a master class and host two concerts for the annual Bill and Helen Murray Jazz Residency

Mark Guiliana
(Photo by Deneka Peniston)

On Friday, Nov. 22, about a dozen students in Towson University’s jazz/commercial music program will perform a concert with boundary-pushing drummer and guest artist Mark Guiliana.

It's the culmination of a week of rehearsals and workshops with the musician, who comes to campus from Nov. 18 – 22 for the Bill and Helen Murray Jazz Residency.

Working in genres spanning jazz, rock and electronic music, Guiliana leads the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet and the electronica collaborative Beat Music, and has appeared on records for artists including David Bowie.

The residency, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, aims to offer music students a glimpse at potential career paths in the industry.

“I thought one of the things that we could do to really help students is to create a program [to bring in] people that are doing things like what they will be doing when they graduate, and could be role models for them,” says Music Professor David Ballou, director of the Bill and Helen Murray Jazz Residency.

“[Our guest artists are] out there in the trenches, and they are models that you can make a life in music.”

The program is made possible by the generous donations of the Murray family. The residency is named for William “Bill” Murray, a member of the Towson Foundation board of directors who earned his bachelor and master degrees at TU, and his late wife Helen. Additional funding comes from Murray’s children and his sister, Vira Jo Denney.

Throughout the week-long residency, Guiliana will drop in on classes, give private lessons and will host a master class with students in the jazz program. He’ll also give two concerts.

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, Guiliana will present a concert with longtime collaborators Chris Morrissey and Jason Rigby, a jazz tenor saxophonist and assistant professor of music at TU.

Throughout the week, Guiliana will also rehearse with students selected to participate in the final concert on Friday, Nov. 22.

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Mark Guiliana and Guests

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m.
Harold J. Kaplan Concert Hall, Center for the Arts
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Mark Guiliana and TU Students

Friday, Nov. 22, 8 p.m.
Harold J. Kaplan Concert Hall, Center for the Arts
Get tickets

“It’s like a chance to be in this person’s band for a week,” Ballou says. “They can see how they talk about music, how they think about music, and they’re playing the person’s music.”

In the rehearsals, students work collaboratively with the guest artist to arrange and improvise on the artist’s composition.

“This is all about creating music,” Ballou explains. “Somebody doesn't just give you a score and it's all there--the music that he writes literally is on one sheet like this,” he says, gesturing to a single page of staff paper with chords written on it. “We all learn how to make our parts from that.”

The final performance showcases the decisions made in rehearsals about how to arrange and improvise on the piece. “[The process] puts everything that students are learning in context.”

In 10 years, Ballou has seen the residency make a difference in the local music community.

“There are bands around Baltimore and D.C. that have evolved out of having experienced [the] residency,” Ballou says. “I think that's a really big sign of success—They’re actually influencing the local community.”

That’s exactly what we wanted. We wanted to build a community because that’s what musicians are, we all work together.”