URI Big Band to join jazz legends for sixth summer at Newport Jazz Festival

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Joe Parillo conducts the URI Big Band
University of Rhode Island Professor of Music Joe Parillo conducts the URI Big Band at last year’s Newport Jazz Festival. URI Photo by Nora Lewis

KINGSTON, R.I.–July 30, 2018–The University of Rhode Island’s Big Band will perform again at this year’s Newport Jazz Festival. Performing music by classical jazz musicians like Duke Ellington and contemporary artists like Maria Schneider, 17 URI students and alumni will take the Harbor Stage at the Newport Jazz Fest, Saturday, Aug. 4 at 11 a.m.

“Concertgoers should expect a set of high-energy jazz and jazz fusion music from the 1930s to present,” said Joseph Parillo, director of jazz studies, who will conduct the band.

This is the sixth year the Big Band has joined professional jazz performers from around the world at the Newport Jazz Fest. Not only do students get to perform in front of hundreds of enthusiastic fans, they are also able to network with other musicians, gain confidence in their own abilities and prepare for future auditions.

Big Band performs
The University of Rhode Island Big Band performs at last year’s Newport Jazz Festival. URI Photo by Nora Lewis

“All of these students are incredibly talented,” Parillo said. “They put this on their resume, and they get to talk to and learn from professionals. The overall experience they get from performing in front of that kind of audience gives them the confidence to stand in front of all kinds of audiences and play. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Students are thrilled to share the stage with jazz legends and perform for the festival’s energetic audiences. Nick Motroni, who graduated from URI in May and is from West Warwick, has played the Jazz Festival with the Big Band as its drummer since 2016. He said performing at the festival is exceptionally unique, and “one of the greatest highlights of my undergraduate experience.”

“The Newport Jazz festival gives me another reason to drive me to achieve more and think bigger,” Motroni said. “Representing the school through the arts at such a prestigious venue has always given me something to work harder toward every single year. Not everyone can say they’ve performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, but by being a student at URI I can say that I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity three times in a row.

“The best part about participating in the festival is the atmosphere that surrounds everything when you are there,” Motroni added. “The fans of jazz and of the various other genres all come together to celebrate music, which I think is one of the biggest motivators for myself and many others to give their absolute best when representing URI on stage. I’m eager to play for the people who attend the festival this year to give them another inspiring performance with the URI Big Band.”

For information about tickets and schedules, please visit www.newportjazz.org