Rochester, NY — John Celentano, Eastman School of Music alumnus and distinguished professor emeritus of chamber music, celebrates his 90th birthday on October 22nd with a celebration in his honor. "As a violinist, chamber and orchestral performer, conductor, speaker, writer and broadcast commentator, John Celentano is a perfect example of a complete musician," said James Undercofler, director and dean of the Eastman School. "Eastman salutes John’s accomplishments and is proud to have had close to a 70-year association with this remarkable man."
Born in Montreal, Mr. Celentano received his bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School along with the prestigious Performer’s Certificate in 1937. He was awarded his master’s degree from Eastman in 1941, after which he served in the U.S. Army and Air Force. Mr. Celentano studied violin in Milan and with Raphael Bronstein in New York before joining the Eastman faculty in 1946. He was the founder and first violinist of the Modern Art String Quartet (1948-1953) and founder of the Festivals of Modern American Chamber Music in Woodstock, NY. As the second violinist of the Eastman String Quartet in the 1950s — the first teaching ensemble to tour for the U.S. State Department — he gave concerts, workshops and lectures throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He also performed in chamber music with such artists as Gabor Rejto, Luigi Silva, Francis Tursi, Joseph Mariano, Andor Toth, the Cleveland Quartet, and many others.
From 1967 through 1969, Mr. Celentano participated in the Alaskan June Music Festival as concertmaster, chamber musician and soloist under celebrated conductor Robert Shaw. A highly regarded orchestral musician, Celentano served as associate concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for many years, and was concertmaster of the Eastman-Rochester Chamber Orchestra and Rochester’s Opera Under the Stars. Never one to leave a musical stone unturned, he also directed the Eastman Baroque Sinfonia and was the chair of Eastman’s chamber music department.
Mr. Celentano has been a performer-speaker at national conventions of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), and the American String Teachers Association (ASTA). He also made his name known as a writer — The Strad, Orchestra News, ASTA Magazine, and in many other publications — and as a radio and television commentator.
Still active as a chamber music coach in the Eastman community, Mr. Celentano resides in Rochester with his wife, Mary.