The tune of passion

Photo courtesy of Charles Yassky

When you first meet Charles Yassky, the new director of the University’s Concert Band, you see a man who could pass for Ernest Hemingway: brilliant, experienced and bearded. His soft-spoken voice and kind demeanor masks his loud and worldly experiences which have stemmed from his musical career.

This is Yassky’s first experience as director of a college band. He is excited about the possibilities here at Seton Hall because he says a university of this size and stature has a lot of young musicians that he can’t wait to inspire and teach.

“With everything that I’ve done career wise, the most rewarding by far, is teaching. It doesn’t matter the level. I can come away from a fourth- grade band concert and be more excited than playing at the Metropolitan Opera because with amateurs there’s not a filter,” Yassky said. “There is an energy that is totally in a different frequency. A professional performance might sound better, but that doesn’t mean the communication of intensity and of passion through music is any more powerful.”

Yassky said he has had a number of mentors who inspired him and helped his musical talents to grow. He counted among them his university band director and a high school teacher who took him to a musical summer camp at the University of Illinois. He said he hopes to teach and inspire his students in the same way.

As the piano was played outside the rehearsal room, Yassky enthusiastically explained how music serves a powerful purpose as it touches a part of us that is not reached by other endeavors. This characteristic of music, Yassky said is what makes us human because it shows passion about life, ourselves, and others.

Yassky received his bachelors and masters degree in music from the University of Illinois. He has also received a masters in school administration from Iona College. He taught as a band director for nine years at a high school in New Jersey.

Through networking, he joined and became the producer of a music production company. This experience led him to create his own music production company, which he managed for 15 years.

He has performed as a clarinetist at the Metropolitan Opera, Radio City and many festivals and Broadway shows. Yassky has also had the opportunity to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in the Abbey Road Studios in London and to work with numerous artists of different generations in a variety of places around the world. In addition, he has also composed a theme for ESPN College Football which has been slightly altered, but is still played today.

Yassky said he went back to teaching so he could spend more time at home and not miss his two sons growing up. He still continues as an active musician.

He is also a music director of the Ramsey Wind Symphony, Orangetown Concert Band and he works with an adult community band on Wednesdays.

Nisha Desai can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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