Kenneth Anthony Narducci
Ken Narducci, conductor and brass performer, is Professor of Music and Director of Wind and Percussion Studies at La Sierra University, a position he has held since 2006. Prior to this appointment, he served as professor of music and director of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble at Pacific Union College for 25 years, from 1982 to 2006.
In addition to his work with the PUC SWE, he also directed several small ensembles and taught music theory, instrumental conducting, and the brass instrumental techniques courses. Beginning in 2004, Narducci formed and directed the first jazz band to be offered for credit at PUC. He composes and arranges for all the groups he directs.
Ken was born in Castro Valley, California, the younger of two sons of Anthony and Violet Narducci. His father was of Italian descent and his mother a North Dakotan with Ukrainian roots. Music was an important part of life in his home, both parents having had music backgrounds.
My father was a violinist and trumpet player who directed a Big Band for the Army Air Corp in World War II. It was featured on a program broadcast on KFEK in Sacramento. He tried to do Big Band after the war, but it didn’t work and he went into the grocery business. His trumpet was in a closet when I was a kid, and I ended up playing it when I started lessons. Mother played French horn in a school band and met my father in Sacramento when her family came to California.
One of their great gifts to me was to let me find my own way. I fell in with a bunch of great musicians in high school, some of whom today are professional musicians, and the rest is history . . .
Ken attended public schools in the San Francisco bay area and was valedictorian of the 1976 class at Hayward High School. In 1980 he graduated with academic distinction from Pacific Union College with a degree in trumpet, earning the department's Achievement Award in Performance.
That autumn he continued his music study at the University of Oregon, where he was awarded a graduate teaching fellowship which included playing in the faculty brass quintet and teaching undergraduate trumpet majors and brass methods classes. He completed a D.M.A. in music theory at the UO in 1989.
In the spring of 1990, Narducci was honored with the Zapara Excellence in Teaching Award in the area of humanities at PUC and chosen later that year to receive the National Zapara Award. He was honored as PUC's Educator of the Year In 1995 and was chair of the faculty senate in 2005.
In 1996 the PUC SWE was featured at the College Band Directors National Conference (CBDNA) West/Northwest Conference in Reno, Nevada, where it gave the opening concert. As one of twelve schools chosen, PUC was also the only “small” school to be represented. Other participating bands included those from the Universities of Montana, Washington State, Idaho, Calgary, Oregon, and Hawaii.
In 2010 the LSU Wind Ensemble, under Narducci’s direction was one of nine university bands chosen to play at the CBDNA West/Northwest convention at the University of Nevada, Reno, in March. The decision to invite the LSU band was based on a CD recording of the group submitted by Narducci in May 2009. The other eight bands performing at the conference included those from Brigham Young University and the Universities of Idaho, Montana, Utah, Redlands, Alberta (Canada), Nevada, and California State at Long Beach.
The LSU band gave the opening concert of the conference at 1 p.m. on March 11. The hour-long performance featured Stephen Melillo's Godspeed, Timothy Mahr's introspective Imagine if you will . . ., David Maslanka's Give Us this Day, and Andrew Boyson, Jr.’s December Dance. As a warm-up for this performance, the band gave the concert three times, at the Loma Linda University Church, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Riverside, and the LSU church.
In the fall of 2012, the LSUWE was invited to be a featured group in a shared performance with the Cal State University Fresno Band in March 2013. Narducci recently talked about that experience and earlier ones like it:
While at PUC and more recently at LSU, our bands regularly participated in the CSUF Wind Festivals, a three-day collegiate music festival at CSUF where we would perform and be adjudicated. The festival features a Saturday evening concert featuring the CSUF band and an invited band from another school.
In the fall of 2012, I put my bid in for the LSU band to be adjudicated, particularly since those who were going to be adjudicating were high profile band conductors. I was surprised when I got a letter from the CSUF band director, Gary Gilroy, which read, “How would you like for your group to be the guest band at the Saturday evening concert?” We responded positively and performed some of the works by Julie Giroux, a wonderful new composer; Mark Campbell’s Watchman, Tell Us of the Night; and other pieces. It was an honor and a wonderful experience for us.
Performing with my students in these kinds of situations is one of those mountaintop experiences that creates a tremendous sense of accomplishment blended with a certain amount of risk. Being invited is a huge honor, but then we have to come up with the goods. In every instance, I've given it to the Lord and He has pretty much taken over.
Narducci is a member of several professional organizations, including the College Band Directors' National Association and the International Trumpet Guild. He is in frequent demand as a clinician and conductor. His wife, Julie, is a Kodaly music education specialist who taught music for over twenty years and is now Director of Alumni Relations at LSU.
Sources: Interview with Ken Narducci, November 2013; Biography at LSU music department website; Information provided by Kenneth Narducci, 1996 and 1997; International Adventists Musicians Association (IAMA) Notes, Winter 1996, 5; Summer 1996; 5, 6; David Castro, “Pacific Union College Wind Ensemble Presents Opening Concert at CBDNA Convention,” IAMA Notes, Spring 1997, 5, 6; Winter/Spring 2010, 8; personal knowledge.