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Picture  of Ray Deroche
Ray Deroche
(1955 - 2010)

Farewell To A Good Friend

The Reunion Jazz Orchestra is very sad to announce the sudden passing of Ray Deroche, a cherished member of the trombone section. Ray was a devoted father and grandfather, and a dedicated member of the RJO for many years.

Although he was not an alumnus of Notre Dame College Prep, Ray´s commitment and dedication to the Reunion Jazz Orchestra and support of the high school music program quickly earned him status as an adopted “son of Notre Dame”. His exceptional talent, hard working attitude, and dry wit are just a few of the qualities that made it a privilege to have Ray as a permanent member of the RJO.

The Reunion Jazz Orchestra would like to dedicate our 2010 Summer Concert Season to the memory of this fine musician and good friend. Sleep well Ray, our thoughts are with you. You now have taken your rightful place in the best big band ever to be.

Picture  of Fr. George
Fr. George Wiskerchen, CSC
(1928 - 2005)

The Swinging Padre

The first jazz educator to author a “how-to” book on techniques of jazz playing, Fr. George Wiskirchen is one of the more revered figures in jazz education’s history. A native of Quincy, Illinois, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1951, was ordained to the priesthood in 1955, and later earned a Master of Music Education from Northwestern University in 1960. In 1956, he was offered a position at Notre Dame High School in Niles, Illinois, a northern Chicago suburb. During this period, he also served as Director of Northwestern University’s Jazz Workshop from 1963-1965. In 1972, he accepted the position at the University of Notre Dame as Assistant Director of Bands, Director of Brass Ensembles, and Director of Jazz Bands, where he remained until his retirement in 2001.

Fr. Wiskirchen is widely known for his commitment to being an educator above all else. Through his teaching and pioneering publications and articles, Fr. Wiskirchen provided a fertile educational environment for students to excel later in their own professional lives, whether involved in music or not. His educational influence is felt across the musical landscape of the U.S., with notable alumni such as former Stan Kenton alto saxophonist Mike Price, composer and pianist of the Vanguard Orchestra Jim McNeely, trombonist and founding member of the popular music group Chicago, Jimmy Pankow, and jazz fusion artist David Sanborn.

It is in the area of publications that Fr. Wiskirchen has been often identified as a pioneering jazz educator. “Developmental Techniques for the Jazz Ensemble Musician”, written in 1961, and “A Manual for the Stage or Dance Band Trumpet Player”, written in 1964 were the first jazz texts of their kind, since they dealt with specific pedagogical issues. “Developmental Techniques for the Jazz Ensemble Musician” was his first “how-to book” that presented a wide range of subjects of value to the developing high school jazz musician. Each instrument is discussed, and instruction is provided on section playing, phrasing, vibrato, blend, balance, and articulation.

In addition to his publications, Fr. Wiskirchen was a highly respected educator of aspiring musicians. His bands always represented themselves well at festivals they attended, and received acclaim from a wide range of educators and professional musicians including Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Sonny Stitt, Quincy Jones, and Woody Herman. His memory continues to serve as an inspiration for all members of the Reunion Jazz Orchestra.


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Last Updated April 4, 2016