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Ithaca Native Frank Battisti Returns to Conduct Performances at Ithaca College

ITHACA, NY — Renowned wind band conductor Frank Battisti will return to his hometown and alma mater to take part in two public performances, work with current students and help celebrate an exhibit in his honor in the Ithaca College School of Music.

On Wednesday, Dec. 4, Battisti and Stephen Peterson will conduct the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble performing the music of Bryant, Milhaud, Stravinsky and Zare.

On Thursday, Dec. 5, Battisti will join Elizabeth Peterson and Mark Fonder conducting the Ithaca College Concert and Symphonic Bands in performing music by Barber, Copland, Husa, LoPresti, Mackey and Persichetti.

Both concerts will take place in Ford Hall beginning at 8:15 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Battisti is serving as the 2013 Colonel Arnald Gabriel ’50, HDRMU ’89 Visiting Wind Conductor, a guest conductorship that recognizes another distinguished School of Music graduate.

“I’m delighted to be coming back to Ithaca College in this role,” said Battisti, who notes that Gabriel was a senior when he entered the college as a freshman in 1949. “I look forward to conducting all the wind groups and being involved in master classes and various discussion groups. Since I graduated in 1953 I've maintained a close association with the college. It is an outstanding school with great students and faculty.”

The occasion of Battisti’s return will also serve to highlight a temporary exhibit in his honor, running Nov. 24–Dec. 13. The display cases in the Ford Hall Lounge will be filled with a variety of old photos, news clippings, awards, film reels of marching band rehearsals, concert programs and vinyl recordings, with two screens featuring a rotating selection of photo slideshows and videos. There will even be a piece of the wall from behind the desk in his old Ithaca High School office.

In the future, the artifacts will be displayed as part of the Frank Battisti archive and included in a comprehensive exhibit of School of Music history.

“Every time Frank Battisti returns to this campus, I anticipate being challenged, inspired and, most of all, mentored,” said Mark Fonder, professor of music education and director of the Ithaca College Concert Band. “He embodies all the professionalism and artistry we hope to aspire to and model in our own teaching and performance.”

Born and raised in Ithaca, Battisti studied music education at the college and began working at Ithaca High School upon his graduation. He assumed leadership of the Ithaca High School Band, and from 1955 to 1967 the group achieved national recognition as one of the finest high school bands in the nation. Under Battisti’s direction, they commissioned 24 works from top composers, collaborated with an array of notable guest soloists and conductors, and performed at major regional and national venues.

Battisti received a master’s degree from the college in 1964, and after a brief stint at Baldwin Wallace College he joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music. During his lengthy career there he led the NEC Wind Ensemble and commissioned many more leading composers. He was named conductor emeritus upon his retirement in 1999.

A past president of the College Band Directors National Association, Battisti has authored or coauthored seven books and dozens of articles on music education and wind literature in national and international journals. Among his many accolades, he was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from the college in 1992 and the alumni association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Established by an endowment gift by Gabriel in 2006, the Colonel Arnald Gabriel ’50, HDRMU ’89 Visiting Wind Conductor residency brings an accomplished guest conductor from the wind field to the campus annually. Past guest conductors include John Whitwell, director of bands emeritus at Michigan State University; Paula Crider, retired director of bands at the University of Texas; and Anthony Maiello ’65, M.S. ’67, professor of music and director of instrumental studies at George Mason University.

For more information contact Jenny Stockdale, marketing communications manager in the School of Music, at (607) 274-3256 or