Faculty Jazz Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program music School of Music

Jazzing-Up the Campus with Ray Gariglio

Ray Gariglio, 1975

 Raymond J. Gariglio came to UNCG in 1966 as a Professor of Music and became the bandmaster for all UNCG performing band ensembles, many of which he founded himself. In 1969, he established the UNCG Jazz Ensemble, the first university-accredited jazz ensemble in North Carolina, and by 1983, his tireless work in the field had laid the groundwork for the development and debut of UNCG’s Miles Davis Jazz Program to begin offering undergraduate degrees. In addition to developing funding and support for the program, including beginning a series of benefit concerts in 1974 funding the university’s first Jazz Scholarship Fund, Gariglio also personally designed and developed the curriculum for the new program’s teaching of Band Literature, Clarinet Performance, Instrumental Methods, Jazz Arrangement, Jazz Ensembles, Jazz Improvisation, and Wind Ensembles, laying the foundation for faculty to come to improve upon.

Gariglio’s musical career did not begin with the university, however; he earned three separate Bachelor of Music degrees from the American Conservatory of Music (now, sadly, no longer in operation), one each in the fields of Theory and Clarinet Performance in 1952, and one in Composition in 1955. He earned his Masters of Music from Northwestern University, after which point, he entered the military during the Korean War, serving as the Band Director and clarinetist for the 89th Army Band until his honorable discharge in 1960.

Ray Gariglio, clarinet soloist, with the Page High School Jazz Ensemble, c 1980

A native of Illinois, Gariglio established himself as a premier clarinetist and musician in both the classical and jazz worlds of Chicago in the 1960s, performing as first clarinet and featured soloist for such major ensembles as the Lyric Opera Company of Chicago and the Chicago Little Symphony, the latter company touring all over North America. After touring extensively throughout the U.S. as a soloist, he relocated to North Carolina to begin his work with UNCG, where he founded and performed in various faculty and professional groups, including the East Wind Quintet, the Dixieland Band, the Ray Gariglio Jazz Quartet, and the University Commencement Band, all incorporating members of UNCG faculty and local artists. A great deal of the sheet music collection now held by the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives dates from this time period, and features arrangements and original compositions by Gariglio designed for performance by either student ensembles or his own artistic groups.

Not content with limiting his touring to the United States, Gariglio also took his teaching prowess abroad, serving as an instructor and performer for the Holy Trinity Music School‘s summer music camp in Leogane, Haiti, where he gave private lessons, tutoring in the clarinet as well as leading ensemble performances. Gariglio visited Haiti to teach at the camp multiple times from 1974 through the mid 1980s, and several of his original compositions and arrangements in the university’s collection feature music written specifically for the Haitian Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as many that were based on native Haitian musical themes that he encountered there.

As a member of the Greensboro musical community, Gariglio was also heavily involved in its performance and musical landscape for his entire residency, up until his death in 2003. His various performing ensembles were frequent staples of Greensboro society, performing at country clubs, benefit events, and community concerts, as well as acting as a soloist for many local high school and children’s festival band performances.

Ray Gariglio and Hal Reynolds with the Page High School Jazz

Ensemble, c 1980

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives is proud to house the donated collection of Raymond J. Gariglio, an expansive collection of sheet music, handwritten musical manuscripts, and personal papers from one of the University’s most beloved music faculty.
Having left a lasting legacy of students taught, ensembles founded, and UNCG’s jazz department itself created and thriving, Gariglio’s influence is still heavily felt in the Greensboro music landscape today.

This blog post was authored by Anne Myers, Library and Information Studies practicum student at the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, December 2015.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *