March 4, 2008

Professor brings American music to Romania

Music professor Gary Dilworth Music professor Gary Dilworth

Sacramento State music professor Gary Dilworth has become something of a music ambassador to Romania. He’s planning an encore trip to the country April 6, following successful sabbaticals and fellowships there the last two years.

Dilworth is involved in two projects arranged through the U.S. State Department that will bring American music to the people of Romania.

The trumpeter will be part of a trio – including piano and violin – that will tour five of the country’s outlying cities and towns for a program titled “Symphony, Song and all the Jazz.” Dilworth also will guest conduct the Pitesti Philharmonic in a special concert of American popular and Broadway music.

Both the orchestra concert, and the kickoff of the tour, start April 10, giving Dilworth four days to organize and rehearse with both groups. “There’s no rest,” Dilworth says of his schedule. “You’re off and running from the day you get there.”

This type of musical outreach is nothing new to Dilworth. During a five-month sabbatical to Romania in 2006 he not only conducted ensembles, but also held master classes at various schools and was a guest lecturer at the University of Bucharest. That Fulbright Fellowship was extended for a 2007 trip back to Romania where he developed and produced “Broadway Bucharest,” a presentation of American popular music.

Dilworth says Romania is still recovering from the years of hardship under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, overthrown in 1989, and subsequent years of political challenges.

It’s not unusual for residents in outlying areas to cook on the same wood stove that heats their home, or lack indoor plumbing, Dilworth says, adding that those hardships extend to the musical professions as well. Instruments in the national conservatory are in a state of disrepair and music scores have been photo-copied multiple times. One student was working from a copy of a hand-written copy. “A lot of the things we kind of take for granted here are pretty special to them.”

And while the musicians there love American music, they don’t quite grasp all its aspects. “If they have something that’s a little too jazz oriented, they have trouble ‘swinging,’” Dilworth says.

He and his wife Chia-Hua have traveled to many other parts of the world – Taiwan, Spain, France, Australia, Singapore – but when Dilworth talks about Romania and its people, a certain wistfulness drifts into his narrative. Despite low pay and a lack of appreciation from some of their own directors, the musicians are still dedicated to bringing good music to their fellow countrymen.

“I wish there was a way to do more for them,” Dilworth says. “I think this is a good start.”

For more information about Sacramento State’s Music department, call (916) 278-5155 or visit For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.