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Who is Nick Contorno?

While Tanya was visiting Haiti in early November 2011, she helped local volunteers to found the “Ecole de Musique Nick Contorno des Gonaïves” (Music School Nick Contorno in Gonaïves, Haiti).

They wanted to establish an independent music school, organised and run by local Haitians, who would decide for themselves how to use and distribute the instruments and other materials that they received from Switzerland and the USA. Both the executive and administrative committees which were formed, awarded Tanya the privilege of naming the new music school.

She had met with Dr. Nick Contorno in the summer of 2011 to see if he would be willing to donate music scores for Haiti. Tanya had been able to collect lots of instruments, but the project was terribly short on sheet music, especially music for an entire marching band and orchestra. Dr. Contorno was Tanya's high school band director and he has since received many outstanding awards for music and teaching. He had written several music pieces for the high school level which were perfect for Haiti project. Dr. C, as he is called by his students, was enthusiastic and helpful, and he generously donated an entire collection of sheet music to Haiti. So Tanya decided to name the school after Dr. Nick Contorno. "I cannot imagine a better example for these children," she said.

Dr. Nicholas J. Contorno is retired Director of Bands and Orchestra at Marquette University. He received his Bachelor and Master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He began his teaching career as an Instrumental Music teacher in the Glendale (WI) Public Schools and also served as Director of Bands at Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay, WI. In 1968 he accepted the position of Music Curriculum Supervisor and Director of Bands at Kettle Moraine High School, Wales, WI.

Dr. Contorno is an A.S.C.A.P. award winning composer and arranger, and is represented in the catalogs of C.L. Barnhouse, Bourne, Hal Leonard, Jenson, Pro-Art, Daehn, Kendor, Really Good Music and Global Musical Interests Publications.

As an active professional musician, he has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; Holiday on Ice Orchestra; Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus Band; Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and Les Elgart Orchestra. He also has performed with many national shows and artists, including "Annie", "42nd Street", Linda Ronstadt, Natalie Cole, Manhattan Transfer, Vic Damone, Johnny Mathis, Dinah Shore, Mel Torme, The Four Lads, and Sonny & Cher, to mention a few.

Dr. Contorno also has been a guest soloist/conductor/adjudicator/clinician with many school bands in Wisconsin, as well as in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Nevada, Tennessee, and the People's Republic of China. He is listed in "Leaders of Secondary Education" (1972), "World's Who's Who of Musicians" (1977), and "Encyclopedia of Band Composers" (1991).

His many honors include the Hugo Anhalt Music Achievement Award (1973); Commendation from the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors (1979); National Band Association Outstanding Jazz Educator award (1982); University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Music Alumni Achievement Award (1990); the Milwaukee Police Department Chief of Police Superior Achievement Award (1992);  membership in Jesuit Honor Society Alpha Sigma Nu (2005);  and the Michael George Distinguished Music Educators Award (2007).

Dr. Contorno also holds memberships in numerous professional organizations, such as the American Federation of Musicians, Local 8 of Milwaukee, WI and 193 of Waukesha, WI, Phi Beta MU, the National Band Association, the Wisconsin Bandmasters Association, and the Phi MU AlphaSinfonia. He has served on the board of directors of the Goldman Memorial Band of New York City.

In addition, he has been the musical coordinator of Festa Italiana-Milwaukee, WI from 1982 to 1998, and served as the Musical Director/Conductor of the Milwaukee Concert Band, and the First Brigade Civil War Band.  He has also guest conducted "The President's Own," the United States Marine Band.

Currently, Dr. C has been helping to create and foster a band program with John Szcygiel at St. Paul's Elementary School, Genesee Depot, WI.  The program is in its fourth year and has about 60 members in two bands, a beginner's and advanced band.  They have already been on a number of outings, like playing at Circus World in Baraboo, WI, and at the Domes in Milwaukee, WI.

"I am proud to say that I was a student of Dr. C at Kettle Moraine High School from 1977-81," explains Tanya. "Thanks to his efforts we were able to play at many stunning events, including the Indianapolis 500! We sure had a lot of fun in his classes. Thanks, Dr. C!"

We need a building for the music school.


Instruments now safely
in Haiti
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