Performance Music at Scranton Presents the 29th Annual World Premiere Composition Series Concert


The University of Scranton Performance Music will present the 29th Annual World Premiere Composition Series Concert featuring original compositions by Sam Pilafian and Joseph Boga. This year’s concert will celebrate the life of Chris Nelhybel, and will take place on Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the Houlihan-McLean Center. Admission is free and open to the public, and the performance is sponsored by the Nelhybel family.

The concert will be performed by The University of Scranton Concert Band and Concert Choir. Pilafian and Boga will serve as guest conductors for the premiere performance of their compositions, and the evening will also feature the announcement of and performance by the first recipient of the Chris Nelhybel Memorial Guitar Scholarship.

Nelhybel, the son of Vaclav and Dorothea Nelhybel, was born in 1971 and grew up, together with his sister, Jana, in Newtown, Conn. Very early in his life, he began to draw and paint, and at the same time showed musical talents that led him to choose the guitar as his favorite instrument to express himself. While both the gifts of visual creativity and musicality shaped his life, Nelhybel chose visual arts as his college major, combining it with a minor in computer science. After his college graduation, he moved to the Scranton area, working for a number of years at Pride Mobility as graphic designer, art director and director of internet development, creating a high-end website, which he turned into an invaluable marketing tool for the company. In 2008 Nelhybel accepted the position of webmaster at WNEP-TV 16. There he applied his talents by transforming the news station’s website into an important communication tool, and also moderated WNEP’s Talkback 16, an online viewers’ forum. Shortly before his untimely death in January 2011, his valuable work for WNEP was recognized by a promotion to director of interactive media.

Pilafian, an award-winning tubaist, is currently a professor of music in the Arizona State University Herberger College School of Music, Tempe, Ariz., having previously served for 20 years on the faculties of Boston University and their summer Tanglewood Institute. He has recorded and performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Lionel Hampton and Pink Floyd, among others, and was co-founder of the Empire Brass Quintet. Pilafian has recorded 15 solo CDs, and his recent solo performances have taken him to Canada, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Austria, Germany and England. In addition, he is an arranger, composer and recording producer, and serves on the board of directors of the International Tuba Euphonium Association.

A native of northeast Pennsylvania, Boga is a student at The Juilliard School and a trumpet student of Mark Gould, Chris Jaudes and Wynton Marsalis. Currently serving as trumpet section leader with The Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, he is a member of the New York Trumpet Ensemble, the Wycliffe Gordon Big Band and the Kyle Athayde Big Band. He performs professionally with many ensembles, both jazz and classical, and has appeared throughout the United States and at the Parma Jazz Festival in Italy. He has performed with a wide array of established and emerging artists, and his compositions and arrangements have been premiered and performed in America and abroad. Boga has appeared in venues ranging from Lincoln Center’s esteemed concert and club venues to a performance with the Wycliffe Gordon Septet at the halftime show for a New York Giants’ playoff game.

Established in 1984 in collaboration with Nelhybel’s father, world-renowned composer Vaclav Nelhybel, the World Premiere Composition Series provides students with the opportunity to work with and learn from nationally and internationally known composers and conductors. The series also champions rising young composers and has made significant contributions to the wind and choral repertoires. In addition to Pilafian and Boga, the series has featured renowned composers such as Vaclav Nelhybel, Wycliffe Gordon, Robert Starer and Lawrence Wolfe, and even provided now internationally acclaimed composer Robert Kapilow his very first commission.

For additional information, contact Performance Music at The University of Scranton at, or visit

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