“GRAMMY” AWARDED TO FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR

In ceremonies on Thursday evening, March 20, Professor Tom Smith, a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Romania and Visiting Professor at the National University of Music, was awarded the “National Music Award,” the Romanian equivalent of the American “Grammy Award,” by the Romanian National Radio. This was the first year that a National Music Award was given in the category of jazz, adding special significance to the fact that Smith is the first American ever to receive the prestigious and coveted award. During the award ceremonies, which were broadcast countrywide on Romanian National Radio, Professor Smith conducted the National Radio Big Band and performed several trombone pieces himself.

Smith’s award and the National Radio Big Band performance were widely covered in the Romanian press. Both in his teaching activities at the National University of Music, Romania’s premier center for music and
musicological studies, and with his more than twenty major concerts for national television and radio in the last six months, Smith has caused quite a splash on the jazz and entertainment scene in Romania. Smith is a Professor and the Director of Instrumental Music at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, North Carolina.


Most Rev. Dr. Chrysostomos
Executive Director
U.S. Fulbright Commission in Romania
Str. Ing. Nicolae Costinescu, Nr. 2
71277 Bucharest, Sector 1, Romania

commission-related e-mail: director@fulbright.kappa.ro
commission website: www.usembassy.ro

private/personal e-mail: directorprivate@from.ro

JAZZ PROFESSOR ON NATIONAL TV VARIETY SHOW

Professor Tom Smith, a Fulbright Scholar at the National University of Music in Bucharest who has made himself a national figure on the Romanian music scene, was featured on Romanian television’s highest rated late-night progam, “Taverna,” on Friday, April 11. Smith, whose appearances on national television in a number of spectacular jazz and big band extravaganzas have sparked nationwide media coverage of his
activities, was interviewed by the host of “Taverna” and then played a traditional musical arrangement on his trombone, with piano accompaniment. Later in the program, Smith joined the David Letterman styled house band for a fifteen minute blues jam session.The studio audience was thrilled by the performance. Tom Smith is a professor of music at Pfeiffer University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Most Rev. Dr. Chrysostomos
Executive Director
U.S. Fulbright Commission in Romania
Str. Ing. Nicolae Costinescu, Nr. 2
71277 Bucharest, Sector 1, Romania

commission-related e-mail: director@fulbright.kappa.ro
commission website: www.usembassy.ro

private/personal e-mail: directorprivate@from.ro
private/personal telephone: (40/21) 211-7869

“The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy
— the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the
possibility that others may see something that we have failed to see,
or may see it more accurately.” Senator J. William Fulbright

GREAT CONCERT AT ARCUB

Many of the Bucaresti musicians and artists have marked down last night as when the banner was passed for jazz music in this country. After hearing maybe the best jazz concert ever heard here, Johnny Radacanu, the king of Romania jazz stepped up on stage to embrace Professor deFulbright Scholar Tom Smith. Since everybody knows what a character Johnny is, professor Smith accepted the stunt with good graces. But, it made the right impression, because Johnny knows what everyone else also knows. After producing all parts of last night and by disciplining the usually incorrigible Radio Big Band the week before, the new king of Romania jazz is an American.

Last night’s concert was a History of Jazz, where Ruxandra Todiras narrated jazz music’s development as a social affector of culture and creative thought. The band on the stage of a packed Arcub, was Smith’s latest creation, something he calls the National Jazz Ensemble of Romania. It contained 23 musicians with some alternating their posts to let others participate. People were on the stage that no one would ever have believed could perform together. But they did perform together, making for the best jazz heard in Bucaresti.

There were so many great spots that it is hard to remember them all, although Allyn Constanciu and Garbis Dedeian were great. Also Mircea Tiberian and Cristian Soleanu, and of course Johnny who played two wonderful solo compositions. Let us not also forget Smith’s great trombone playing either. The last composition was a long suite called Birds of Paradise composed by American Carla Bley. It featured the young George Dumitriu on violin, who was superb throughout. Before the performance, Professor Smith joked that this was the hardest piece of jazz music ever played in Romania. When it was over, no one disagreed. The work was dedicated to the astronauts of the American space shuttle Columbia, and was a perfect tribute.

Next to Ambassador Guest, Tom Smith is probably the best known American in Bucaresti. The US Cultural Center sponsored the event, so many Americans were present. His contribution to culture in this country is large. His rich compliments made about his musicians were deeply felt and most appreciated. It was an unforgettable evening of music.

SUCCESSFUL EVENING OF AMERICAN JAZZ

Senior Fulbright Scholar, jazz conductor and performer Tom Smith had a very successful JAZZ CONCERT – with the NATIONAL RADIO BIG BAND of Romania (as a tribute to Bucharest native Peter Herbolzheimer). The performance included pieces by: Ch.Parker, D.Gillespie, N.Washington, P.Herbolzheimer a.o.The event took place at the Grand Concert Hall of the Romanian RAdio Broadcast, on Tuesday, Feb.18. The concert was broadcast live on the Romanian National Radio Broadcast and was also recorded.Thought has been given to produce a CD following this concert. As a conductor as well as trombone soloist, Tom Smith was rewarded with standing ovation by the general public, as well as by the members of the big band itself, on stage.

The audiences in Romania (where jazz music has big numbers of fans in a category of highly educated people, of all generations) have had a chance to enjoy a number of concerts for the past months due to Professor Tom Smith, while he has been in this country as a Fulbright Senior Scholar. Tom’s performances have been just superb – as a conductor of the music student’s big band of the the Bucharest National University of Music as well as in cooperation with the NAtional Radio Broadcast jazz musicians, and others. Tom Smith has brought a standard of performance to these groups,which is indeed admirable.

Let it be said that, like on several previous occasions, Tom Smith was introduced, at the concert on Feb.18, by Romania’s most prominent expert in and presenter of jazz – Florian Lungu, who has revealed the accomplishment and top-level qualities of this American jazz performer, conductor and professor, Tom Smith, and repeatedly emphasized te privilege that Romanian conservatory students, professional jazz performers and lovers of jazz have, due to Tom Smith’s activity in Romania as a Fulbright senior scholar, for a whole academic year. It was Florian Lungu who has also contributed reviews in some of Romania’s newspapers – e.g. in a very popular daily, Curentul, on Tom Smith’s successful activities in Romania and the broad impact he has, the difference that he makes.

It should be added that Tom Smith not only brings home among Romanians an idea about American jazz quality in a most direct, tangible way, through rigorous training (and not just by hear-say and recorded music), but he does his best to teach and inspire in the sense of instoring principles of discipline and cooperation which are the expected behaviour in the US. He has a very special involvement in this sense, trying to bring over a full awareness of principles of professional /-artistic/action to Romania, a country of considerable richness from a cultural poin t of view,as well as richness of talent – but which still has a way to go, in order to recover from effects of a long isolation. There is certainly a cultural difference between a Latin world and an Anglo-Saxon one – in general: the passionate and high-quality artist in Tom Smith makes him a very productive bridge in a profound Fulbright spirit.

EXCERPTED FROM INTERVIEW ROMANIAN CABLE NEWS, APRIL 29, 2003

RCN: What did you think when Societea Romania de Radiophone gave you the Grand Award of Jazz (National Music Awards)? You are after all an American.

SMITH: Well, I obviously believed it was a mistake, and I wondered how it was possible after only being here six months. There are some musicians in Romania like Marius Popp who should have already won. In a way I felt like handing my award over to him.

RCN: Are you as well known in America as you are here?

SMITH: (laughing) Good grief no! I had a very brief minor run in the mid to late eighties. Then I faded out of view for awhile. That is the way things operate in The States. It is always about “what have you done for me lately?” and revisionist history. Still, even if I was not in any kind of national American spotlight, I saw a number of my students and colleagues get there. So in a way, that was sort of gratifying.

RCN: Tell us about this revisionist history.

SMITH: You mean I have to explain revisionist history to a Romanian? (laughs) As you know, the music business is very political. Therefore, a number of games are played by all participants in order to as we say in The States, “get a leg up.” One of them is to categorize and stereotype. Romanian musicians are probably more guilty of this practice than Americans, but they are more benign about their reasons for being this way. For example, I conduct symphonic wind symphonies at home. But, I seriously doubt I will ever be allowed within a hundred meters of a classical conductor’s podium in Romania. Now that is not to say there is not a mutual respect between myself and the Bucharest classical community. Here, it is simply a matter of old habits. In Romania, I supposedly have my turf, and they supposedly have theirs. I believe the Romanian viewpoint is more like “why would he want to be with us?” as opposed to the more cynical exclusionary practices of Americans. Now with that said, Bucharest jazz musicians are as rabid towards each other as any group I ever been around, and I think financial considerations play a huge stake in this. People get a little crazy sometimes when there is not enough money to go around.

RCN: What do you believe are the American exclusionary practices?

SMITH: First let me preface by saying that I am not complaining. Part of being in the music business is learning to develop a very thick skin. I handle things a lot better now than when I was younger. You have to in this business, or you just don’y make it. American music is the most competetive in the world. We have two hundred thousand SCHOOL jazz ensembles. Europeans cannot fathom how many American musicians are out there, and much of that has to do with the hundreds of thousands of free band, choral and orchestra programs in the American school systems. Because of the intense competition, American musicians are often honored to play with anyone. With that said, a large number of American musicians will do anything possible to guard their territory. Therefore, in the minds of some misplaced individuals, exclusion is necessary for survival. I remember back in the eighties, when I had a top notch big band. As long as I was the non threatening new guy, everyone was very polite and cooperative. That all changed when I started to become the main guy in my region. That’s when I saw the other side of the music business dynamic. Still, you have to try not to sustain long term animosities. Instead, you try to understand the insecurities inherent of said behavior. Often, the dark stuff begins with the young musicians, although this is not to say that veterans are exempt. Sometimes, these musicians are merely frustrated, immature, or a combination of the two. But, you try not to give up on any one musician, unless they are really asking for trouble. Often, these same people eventually grow up, mature and become positive influences on music.
The same kind of thing applies to Americam intellectual circles, although these people are often loathe to admit their own personal trangressions. There are some for example, who might categorize me as an intellectual light weigt, merely because I do not habitually speak in a manner reminiscent of the conversational dialogue forwarded by Einstein and Tessla in the 1920s. And here I am a Senior Fulbright Scholar. I also write, and you better believe that the literary world does the same thing. That’s exclusion. I wish it did not exist. But, I guess that’s the nature of our business. I once wrote a paper where I used the theory of relativity as a spring board for describing the sentient nature of music. Now imagine me sitting at some table at the club after a gig talking about that? That would exclude me for sure! (laughs).

RCN: Tom Smith, Fulbright Scholar, bandleader, honorary distinguished professor. Thank you very much.

Fulbright Jazz Scores at International Festival

On Sunday, May 19, two Senior Romanian Fulbright Scholars were featured performers at the Richard Oschanitzsky International Jazz festival in Iasi. Tom Smith and Rick Condit performed in separate, but equally acclaimed, concerts that generated no fewer than six curtain calls between them.

Saxophonist Condit (a distinguished alumnus of the 1970s Stan Kenton Band) was warmly received by a familiar Iasi audience that remembered fondly his first 2002 residency at the Enescu School of the Arts. He was joined on stage by acclaimed Swedish pianist Ion Baicu.

Trombonist Smith, a very well known jazz peronality in Romania, preceded Condit with the premier of his high-energy avant garde trio, which also featured Bucharest musicians Vlaicu Golcea and Vlad Popescu.

The Richard Oschanitsky Jazz Festival is an annual three-day event honoring the life of Romania’s most celebrated jazz composer. The concerts were attended by an audience of over 700 people (with over 100 turned away at the door) and were broadcast live on TVR Iasi.

CONSERVATORY BIG BAND IMPRESSES

This past Wednesday, a capacity audience crowded into George Enescu Hall, at the National University in Bucharest, to hear the latest performance of that school’s jazz big band. In a very short time, this remarkable twenty-two member ensemble has staked its claim as one of the premier collegiate jazz bands not only in Eastern Europe, but on the entire continent. Currently led by American Fulbright Scholar Tom Smith, this still new band enthralled audiences with its effortless readings of American music composed by Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker and Pat Metheney.

Special mention should be made of the band’s outstanding soloists, including: saxophonists Alex Simu, Cataleen Milea, Bucharest legend Cristian Soleneu, at age thiry-five the oldest first year student in conservatory history,trumpeters Sebastian Borneche and George Moise, guitarist George Dimitriu, and the phenomenal young pianist Peitru Popa. In fact the ensemble featured a total of twelve soloists, all of whom could play with most of the professional big bands still in business today.

Among the highlights were the parade of soloists on Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments, Soleanu’s agile chord navigation of the Charlie Parker classic Scrapple From the Apple, and Borneche’s sensitive rendering of Pete Wehner’s arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight. The concert closed with a solo free for all, on the upbeat This is Not for You, maybe the funkiest big band arrangement ever conceived. The very happy crowd did not walk away from Enescu Hall. They were blown away. Continued congratulations to Tom Smith and the boys at the National University of Music Big Band, and continued thanks to the American Fulbright Scholar Program for making his residency, and that of his jazz predecessor Rick Condit’s possible. Smith’s once ambitious discussions of a National Big Band now appear to be real, with a complete reading of Carla Bley’s suite Birds of Paradise, already in the works. Jazz fans in Bucharest can hardly wait.

AMERICAN BIG BAND LEADER

Since adopting a jazz policy several years ago, Laptaria Enache has produced outstanding Bucharest concerts by Mircea Tiberian, Austrian saxophonist Nicholas Simeon, and the legendary Johnny Radacannu. Last Thursday’s performance of the National University Big Band was no exception when this popular twenty-member ensemble peeled paint from the club’s narrow walls, and kept an overflow crowd on the edge of its seats.

The presence of a big band in a place not suited for such an ensemble was a novelty in itself. Horn players blared within arms distance of delighted patrons whose heads arched back every time the band performed an especially aggressive passage.

Director Tom Smith took full advantage of the electric atmosphere by programming as many intense selections as possible. These included several compositions from the band’s well known repertoire, and new additions to the book which featured strong solo work from tenor saxophonist Catalene Milea, trombonist Iieronim Pogorelovski, and trumpeter Grig Grigrescu. As always, lead alto saxophonist Alex Simu provided fine solos and excellent student leadership.

The university big band will be on hiatus until March, according to Smith. This is not a surprise since he now leads all three of Bucharest’s outstanding big bands, at least through February. Right now, he prepares the National Radio Big Band for a tribute concert dedicated to Bucharest native Peter Herbolzheimer on February 18, followed by the premier of the 20 in membership National Jazz Ensemble of Romania. This concert will take place Thursday February 27 at Arcub. It will include the long anticipated performance of Carla Bley’s jazz suite “Birds of Paradise,” a performance Smith has dedicated to the fallen astronauts of the space shuttle Columbia. Fulbright Professor Tom Smith will join me in a retrospective of his first four months in Bucharest, and an examination of his former band Unifour Jazz on Radio de Nationale Sunday, February 9 at 15:00. Some Romanians will probably recall Unifour from Radio Free Europe broadcasts before the revolution.

On Monday, December 16, twenty Romanian jazz musicians led by Senior Fulbright Scholar Tom Smith, performed seldom heard Christmas jazz ensemble music, and backed popular Romanian acts ASIA, Voltage and Partizan at Bucharest’s five- thousand seat Paladalui Auditorium. According to Smith, the entire concert, to be broadcast nationally on TVRom 2, December 25 at 9:30 pm and on TVRom 1 at 9:30 pm, was prepared in only six days, adding further credence to his assertions of optimum prowess among the up-start Bucharest jazz community.

One of the evening’s highlights was the performance of Romanian opera star Felicia Felip, who under Smith’s direction entertained the audience with her poignant interpretation of “Silent Night.” The crowd’s sustained cheers were interrupted only by the amazing sight of artificial snow falling from the ceiling’s lofty rafters. The concert ended with Smith’s direction of his band combined with a large military choir. Their performance of Florin Radacanu’s arrangement of a traditional American spiritual, brought this enjoyable
evening to a conclusion.

FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR PERFORMS ON TVR TIMISOARA

Continuing a tradition initiated by 2002 Fulbright Scholar Rick Condit, Senior Fulbright Scholar Tom Smith was the featured musical performer at the International Youth Theater Festival in Arad, Romania. Smith performed a two-hour jazz concert for a capacity audience on Tuesday April 29, accompanied by a local jazz trio led by Timisoara pianist Tony Kuhn. Smith’s thirteen-year- old son Matt also performed a featured composition. The younger Smith, a rapidly developing percussionist, has been seen recently in the company of adult Bucharest musicians, and in the words of his father “is much improved.” The program was broadcast live on TVR Timisoara. Following the concert, Professor Smith was the subject of an extensive interview with Romanian Cable News.


Most Rev. Dr. Chrysostomos
Executive Director
U.S. Fulbright Commission in Romania
Str. Ing. Nicolae Costinescu, Nr. 2
71277 Bucharest, Sector 1, Romania

commission-related e-mail: director@fulbright.kappa.ro
commission website: www.usembassy.ro

private/personal e-mail: directorprivate@from.ro
private/personal telephone: (40/21) 211-7869

“The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy — the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something that we have failed to see, or may see it more accurately.” Senator J. William Fulbright

FULBRIGHTERS HONORED BY UNIVERSITY OF BUCHAREST

In ceremonies held on Wednesday, May 29, two Senior Fulbright Scholars were honored for their significant contributions to the Department of American Studies at the University of Bucharest. Dr. Victoria Seitz, an economics professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Mr. Tom Smith, Director of Instrumental Music at Pfeiffer University were presented gifts by department director Rodica Mihalea for “significantly enhancing the lives of students by contributing far more than what was required.” Dr. Seitz was recognized for her tireless dedication to students and “ebullient classroom manner,” while Mr. Smith was singled out for his innovative teaching style during the Fall Semester. “Both of these professors were the darlings of our department and the finest examples of the Fulbright spirit,” said Professor Mihalea. The ceremonies were attended by university administration, Fulbright staff officers and Mr. Mark Wentorth, American Embassy Chief of Staff. Dr. Seitz was present, as was Mrs. Sarah Smith, the wife of Professor Smith, who accepted congratulations on his behalf. Professor Smith could not attend due to a previous comittment.

Most Rev. Dr. Chrysostomos
Executive Director
U.S. Fulbright Commission in Romania
Str. Ing. Nicolae Costinescu, Nr. 2
71277 Bucharest, Sector 1, Romania

commission website: www.usembassy.ro

“The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy — the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something that we have failed to see, or may see it more accurately.” Senator J. William Fulbright