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Music lecturer directs Radd Jazz concert

March 7, 2014

Craig Hara, lecturer of music at UW-River Falls, will direct the spring Radd Jazz concert on Saturday, March 8 in the Kleinpell Fine Arts (KFA) building.

As a genre of music that began in the early 1920s, jazz music is said to be the stepping stone for not just the rock and roll era of music but even the hip hop music we listen too today.

In his 15th year of teaching, playing and directing music at UWRF, Hara has been involved in music for over 40 years. The trumpet is his primary instrument, but he also plays the drums, percussion and an electric valve instrument (EVI).

As a man who can already play so many different instruments, he recently has been fiddling with the electric guitar and bass.

“I do it because I enjoy it, and because I enjoy the challenge. And it’s not all about helping everyone else, either, I’m still exploring and refining my ability to express myself musically, and it has been because of these opportunities that I have been able to continue to grow; it’s never over,” Hara said in an email interview.

Between directing the Falcon Band and directing other ensembles in substitute for their regular directors, like the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra and now the Jazz Ensemble, Hara has directed and performed in many concerts over the years on and off campus.

Each ensemble typically does one to four performances on campus per semester. Each of the regular directors has approached him to run their ensembles when they were to go on leave for one reason or another. David Milne, chair and professor of music, as well as director of the Jazz Ensemble, did just that at the end of last summer.

Nick Newman is a senior finishing his last semester on campus and has worked closely with Hara over the last four years.

Having been involved with music for more than 12 years, Newman auditioned for the jazz band right away as a freshman. Newman will be performing in the Radd Jazz Spring ensemble on Saturday.

“Hara is a wonderful musician,” Newman said.

Having earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees for trumpet performance at the California Institute of Arts, Hara can be heard on recordings and in live performance with various artists and groups such as Mary Louise Knutson, Charles Lazarus, River Falls Brass, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minnesota Opera.

His work can also be heard on scores for motion pictures and television programs like “Solstice” and “The Legend of Earth Sea.” Hara has also performed around the world with some of the most notable musicians which include Leonard Bernstein, Bill Conti, Zubin Mehta and so many more.

Hara said that there have been a few recent concerts that he has played in that were particularly memorable, most with guest artists that have been participating in our Jazz Festival that the University hosts each February. One of those was with saxophonist Ernie Watts.

For the festival weekend, the regular drummer in the Jazz Ensemble had to miss the first day because of a graduate school audition, so Hara filled in for the first day, in addition to splitting the concert on the following evening. The Jazz Faculty also performed with Ernie on the first evening.

“Ernie brought in some very challenging music, some of which were in a style that I seldom get to play when working in town,” Hara said, “It was great fun to do that, and we were all able to do some great playing with him.”

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. With the performance being held in the Abbott Concert hall in KFA, the Radd Jazz Series is a collaboration between the UWRF Music Department and the UWRF Office of Student Life. The Radd Jazz Series is dedicated to the memory of John Radd, professor of music and Jazz Ensemble director at UWRF.

“I can sum it up best by saying that I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to do the things that I have been able to do,” Hara said, “And while I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Dr. Milne for bringing me to the school 15 years ago, it’s really his wife, Susan, that got it started when I met her on one of my first gigs in the Twin Cities and she said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to meet my husband.’”