All about that bass: Bellino makes Skinner Hall debut

Professor of Music Paul Bellino is gearing up for his first faculty recital at Vassar. Bellino is extremely active in music ensembles in the nearby area, including the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Photo By: Vassar College Media Relations
Professor of Music Paul Bellino is gearing up for his first faculty recital at Vassar. Bellino is extremely active in music ensembles in the nearby area, including the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Photo By: Vassar College Media Relations
Professor of Music Paul Bellino is gearing up for his first faculty recital at Vassar. Bellino is extremely active in music ensembles in the nearby area, including the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Photo By: Vassar College Media Relations

The music department is known for it’s constant stream of free concerts and recitals throughout the year. Oftentimes, these recitals feature more than just student performers, the faculty get to present themselves as well.

On Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. in Skinner Hall’s Mary Anna Fox Martel Recital Hall, Paul Bellino will play the trombone in his first solo faculty recital at Vassar. Faculty recitals are annual events presented by the Music Department.

Bellino commented on the initial process which brings faculty members to the stage, “The recitals are annual events brought about through a request for recital proposals from the Music Department at Vassar.

A concert committee at Vassar accepts all proposal and then chooses certain proposals for the following years events. I suspect the committee looks at previous years and try to include all different types of proposals and instrumentation.”

Past faculty and guest recitals have celebrated the talent on campus as well as in the Mid-Hudson Valley, bringing in performers from Bard College and area ensembles. Bellino’s recital falls during Vassar’s packed Modfest festival, which showcases the diverse artistic talents on campus. Bellino notes that “Vassar is definitely one very important focal point for the music community in the Hudson Valley.” The recital and upcoming events promise to connect students, faculty and community members to this rich musical scene.

Although this is Bellino’s first recital, it is not the first faculty recital that the Music Department has hosted. Adjunct Artist in Music Gail Archer has experienced the process of her own faculty recital, and spoke to her involvement in the event.

She said, “I have given several Vassar faculty recitals in my 8 years on the faculty. The best part for me is sharing the music with my current students who have opportunity to hear me play as an artist. The students see me in a different role, not just as teacher, but as performer.”

Bellino is an Adjunct Artist in Music at Vassar and his talents know no bounds. He teaches and performs the trombone and tuba. Bellino holds a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and a master’s degree in orchestral performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

He has also performed around the world with various symphonies including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Russian National Orchestra and St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.

Bellino is the recipient of several awards including the John Clark Award for outstanding accomplishment in brass performance.

He will be performing pieces by Galliard, Larsson, Bernstein, and Mahler alongside James Fitzwilliam on the piano. “I try to choose music that is diverse, interesting to play, and enjoyable to listen to,” said Bellino.

He continued, “I have chosen several different styles of music including some trombone quartets with three colleagues from the New York City area.”

He looks for challenging pieces that he enjoys playing but also wants to engage the audience. He said, “I select the music based on own personal assessment of musical value ,my desire to perform certain works and ultimately providing a well rounded and entertaining recital that keeps the audience engaged throughout.”

Bellino was granted much flexibility in selecting music to perform. “In my case,” he said, “they went with what I had proposed and I actually made some small changes since then.”

This artistic freedom is an important part of Bellino’s career. He is heavily involved in musical ensembles outside of Vassar, playing second trombone with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and performing as principal trombone with the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra of Wisconsin.

He highlights the ability to exercise some control over the content and style of his work. “A lot of what happens in the Hudson Valley is dependent on what local musicians desire to do, i.e. a musician can create their own work, if they so desire, in addition to the set local musical organizations.”

Molly James ’16 has taken lessons with Bellino for two years. “He is an amazing trombone teacher because he has so much experience,” she said.

James had played the tuba for seven years before picking up the trombone upon arrival at Vassar. “It’s been an incredible experience to pick up another brass instrument, especially the trombone because it requires so much coordination.”

Moving the trombone slide, recognizing notes in a new register, and physically vibrating the lips prove to be quite the balancing act. Nevertheless, James continues progressing and is now a member of Vassar’s jazz ensemble.

She credits Bellino with much of her success. “I never would have been able to progress as much as I have without the instruction of Mr. Bellino,” she noted.

Although not a trombone player, Samuel Plotkin ’15 has worked with Bellino on a few occasions and spoke to his talent: “…he’s a great guy and probably the best trombonist I’ll ever get to work with…”

Bellino has performed with various groups on campus but this recital marks his first solo performance. He has performed in front of audiences in Japan, Europe, the Caribbean and South America. His Poughkeepsie debut is not to be missed.

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