Why did you choose music as your career?
There was always a drive to pursue music as a professional calling. It was always a source of fascination to me for my earliest memories.
What would you say are the most outstanding highlights of your professional life?
Among many wonderful highlights are performing Leonard Bernstein’s Mass on stage at the opening night of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, playing on the 100th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall official concert and television broadcast to 163 countries with Empire Brass, playing live on Soviet Television for two hours with Empire Brass to over 160 million people in 11 time zones, being commissioned by Jacqueline Onassis to arrange John Kennedy’s seven favorite American musical works for Caroline Kennedy’s wedding, winning an Emmy for best instructional video 2009, winning a Walt Disney Award for imagination and innovation from Drum Corp International Championships 2006, having my double trombone concerto, “Bones of Contention” premiered at a College Band Director National Association Convention by Joseph Alessi and Marshall Gilkes, playing concertos with John Williams and the Boston Pops, playing at the Lionel Hampton Festival with Hank Jones, Elvin Jones, Frank Vignola and Lionel Hampton on BET Television. And, being a special guest of Fred Rogers in an episode of the PBS-TV series “Mister Rogers Neighborhood ” that has broadcast nationally over one hundred times.
Why should a potential student choose the Frost School of Music?
The Frost School of Music offers a student the opportunity to become a virtuoso in their chosen musical passion while diversifying their musical skill sets and knowledge. This will produce what I like to call a Liberal Artist… A musician who will be able to say “Yes” when opportunities present themselves and succeed artistically. Each of these successes are “reputation builders” which can be parlayed into wonderful careers.
Finish the statement, “Music is …”
Music is the communication of emotion through sound. Our goal as musicians, then, is to successfully communicate our musical intention to all those who are listening.
What do you hope to pass on to your students?
I hope to pass on to my students a passion for the process of becoming a Liberal Artist and the greater musical depth that this intense training in both recreative music and creative music will bring to their performance and teaching lives.
What music have you been listening to lately?
Gesualdo’s vocal music and Gil Evans instrumental arranging for their harmonic discoveries and innovations. Multiple Lee Morgan jazz trumpet solos in a transcription project.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy has always been predicated on catching students doing something right. Building these momentary successes into a fine and lasting technique or a deeper ability to interpret or understand music has made a great impact on the positivity and efficacy of my teaching.
What do you expect from students at the Frost School of Music?
The Frost School of Music is a major wellspring of knowledge. I hope that every student feels upon exit that they took full advantage of what was offered to them here. I look back now and see how very well I was prepared for the Real Music World by the Frost School of Music. Therefore, I expect my students to be smart enough and dedicated enough to spend their time wisely while studying at the Frost School of Music. Act like a professional now and you will become one !! By acquiring a passion for musical learning while at the Frost School of Music, you will experience musical growth for many years after achieving your degree !
Renowned tuba artist Sam Pilafian, B.M. ’72, joined the Frost School of Music faculty at the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. Currently involved in the development of new academic-business partnerships, he previously taught private lessons and served as a faculty mentor to the Stamps Brass Quintet. Pilafian was named Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Miami Frost School of Music in 1996 and is perhaps best known as a founding member of the internationally renowned Empire Brass Quintet. Versatile in both classical and jazz realms, Pilafian has recorded and performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, and Pink Floyd. As a solo jazz artist, Pilafian has recorded fifteen CDs. He was also a member of the large brass ensemble Summit Brass. He is an arranger, composer and recording producer and is the coauthor of the best selling pedagogy texts “Breathing Gym” and “Brass Gym.” Sam Pilafian was formerly professor of music in the ASU Herberger College School of Music, having previously served for 20 years on the faculties of Boston University and their summer Tanglewood Institute. As a past president and chairman of the board of the International Tuba Euphonium Association, Pilafian now serves on its board of directors.