Nov. 18: New composition illustrates faculty music lecture

By Bev Makhani, Honors College

Yasinitsky-G-2012-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Creating music will be discussed at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, in the Honors Hall lounge in a free, public presentation by a Washington State University professor – and he’ll premiere a composition as a demonstration.

“Where Did that Come From? Musical Composition and the Creative Process” will be led by Regents Professor Gregory W. Yasinitsky. It is part of the Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series.

WSU musicians will help demonstrate answers to a wide variety of questions: What goes into creation of a piece of music? How much is intellectual and how much intuitive? How may basic building blocks of music (rhythm, melody and harmony) be assembled and reassembled to create new musical structures? What are the characteristics of spontaneous composition and improvisation? What are the roles of the performers and audience?

Musical demonstrations will include the debut of “One-Two-Three” by Yasinitsky, director of the WSU School of Music. His piece “Steps” will be performed by the faculty ensemble Jazz Northwest, featuring saxophonist Dave Hagelganz, trumpeter David Turnbull, guitarist Brad Ard, pianist Brian Ward, bassist Frederick “Dave” Snider, drummer David Jarvis and Yasinitsky on saxophone. Ann Marie Yasinitsky, flute, and Gerald Berthiaume, piano, will perform Yasinitsky’s “For All That Has Been Given.”

“This event offers a unique and entertaining examination of music and creativity and the opportunity to learn from a world-class expert on the topics,” said M. Grant Norton, dean of the Honors College. “Dr. Yasinitsky is an esteemed academician, having received the prestigious WSU Eminent Faculty Award, the Marian E. Smith Faculty Achievement Award and numerous additional top recognitions for excellence.”

Yasinitsky joined the WSU faculty in 1982 and was coordinator of jazz studies until 2011; throughout that period, the program received widespread recognition, invitations to perform at prestigious conferences and awards from Down Beat magazine and major festivals.

He is a globally renowned composer, arranger and saxophonist. He has written music for Clark Terry, David Liebman and the U.S. Air Force “Airmen of Note” big band, and his music has been performed in more than 30 countries.

As a saxophonist, he has appeared with artists Lou Rawls, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Louis Bellson, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Mel Torme, Clark Terry and the Manhattan Transfer. He is principal saxophonist with the Spokane Symphony and has performed as a member of the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Oakland Symphony.

His playing and compositions can be heard on CDs released by his own label, YAZZ Recordings, and others.

He earned a DMA from the Eastman School of Music and an MA and BM at San Francisco State University.

More information on his scholarly publications, work and accomplishments is available at, including links to recordings of performances and compositions.

The Honors College and its Honors Student Advisory Council host three lectures in fall and three in spring. For more information, visit



M. Grant Norton, dean, WSU Honors College, 509-335-4505

Linda Howell, academic coordinator, WSU Honors College, 509-335-7801,