Performance Music at Scranton Presents ‘Love Songs, a Concert in Memory of Joan Sylvester’


The University of Scranton Performance Music will present “Love Songs, a Concert in Memory of Joan Sylvester,” featuring special guest Wycliffe Gordon H‘06 on Sunday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Houlihan-McLean Center. Admission is free and open to the public.

The concert will be performed in memory of Joan Sylvester, a lifelong Northeast Pennsylvania resident, and is sponsored by her husband Robert (Bob), vice president emeritus for institutional advancement at The University of Scranton, and their family. Gordon will perform as soloist with the University’s Jazz Ensemble.

The late Sylvester, nee Luciani, graduated from Jessup High School as salutatorian of the commercial class in 1955. After graduating with honors from Lackawanna College, she began working with AllState Insurance and continued her employment until she accompanied her husband as he fulfilled his active military duty obligation as an officer in the Army.

In 1983, she returned to Pennsylvania when her husband became employed at The University of Scranton and, for nearly 19 years, she dedicated herself to traveling with and supporting him in his work. In 2002, she and her husband were recognized for their support on behalf of the University by then-president, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., who named an awarded full-tuition presidential scholarship in their honor.

The Sylvesters celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary several months before she passed away.

An award-winning trombonist and frequent performer at Scranton, Gordon received an honorary doctorate from the University in 2006. The founder and leader of the quintet and big band bearing his name, he is also a gifted composer and arranger, and an outstanding music educator. His career has brought him into contact with many of the world’s greatest musicians, and Gordon has recorded more than 15 solo CDs and seven co-leader CDs.

Currently serving on the faculty of the Jazz Arts Program at the Manhattan School of Music, Gordon released his first method book entitled “Sing it First” this past fall, which chronicles his unique approach to developing trombone technique. He is now working on a collection of trombone quartets, trios and duos. Last year, the Apollo Theatre commissioned Gordon as the musical director and composer to present a new work that premiered as part of the 75th anniversary of the world-famous theatre. Gordon has composed, conducted and performed the premieres of a number of his compositions and arrangements for student ensembles at The University of Scranton, including a special arrangement of his composition “WE” for solo trombone and concert band in honor of the inauguration of President Rev. Kevin P. Quinn in 2011.

 Gordon has received numerous awards for his trombone playing including the Jazz Journalists Association Award for Trombonist of the Year in 2011, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2002 and 2001. He is the youngest member of the U.S. Statesmen of Jazz and a musical ambassador for the U.S. State Department. Gordon has also made several television appearances, including the Grammy Awards and Ken Burns’s documentary “Jazz.”

Gordon’s compositions have been performed throughout the United States and abroad by ensembles such as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Wynton Marsalis Septet, and the Brass Band of Battle Creek.

For additional information, contact Cheryl Y. Boga, director of performance music, at, or visit

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