John P. Celentano BM 37, MA 41

Born in Montreal, Quebec, on October 22, 1912, John Celentano was educated in Rochester, including several years at the Eastman School, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in 1937, a Master's in 1941, and the Performers' Certificate. He has been part of Eastman's, and Rochester's musical life ever since.


His Eastman career was a long and distinguished one. He taught violin and chamber music at Eastman from 1946 to 1979, also serving as String Department Chair. While he has performed all over the world as a soloist, orchestral violinist, and chamber musician, he has also contributed to community musical life in Rochester, as a member of the Rochester Civic Orchestra (1936-1942), Associate Concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (1946-1952), and Concertmaster of the Opera Under the Stars Orchestra (1952-1976). In the 1950s and '60s, he was radio and TV commentator for the Evening at Eastman chamber music broadcast series, and also narrated and performed on Rochester Area Educational Television.


He was also a violinist in the Modern Art Quartet (1948-1958) and Eastman String Quartet (1954-1964). With the latter, he toured southern Europe, the Mideast, and North Africa in 1960, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the first teaching chamber ensemble to do so.


John Celentano was President of the American String Teachers Association in 1975-1976, and received ASTA's Distinguished Service Award in 1981. School Musician called him "one of a vanishing breed of truly great chamber music coaches and expert string pedagogues," and many generations of Eastman string students would agree.


John Celentano has always been a passionate and articulate advocate of the importance of chamber music study in instilling technical skill and intellectual curiosity in young musicians. In a 1968 article for Orchestra News, he wrote: "Administration + Comprehension + Participation yields a totality in musical experience which is the distinguishing characteristic of the chamber music experience." He concluded his article by asking, "As teachers, do we need any higher goal to stimulate student interest and devotion to the development of instrumental skill if the reward be intimacy with the immortals?"

As an inspiring teacher and musician whose entire career has been a vibrant answer to this question, and as someone who has spent six decades on intimate terms with the immortals, the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester is proud to honor John Celentano, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chamber Music, with this Alumni Achievement Award.

Rochester, New York

October 22, 2002