Sadly, Composer, Conductor and Educator Raymond J. Wojcik passed away on Aug. 1, 2014 after a valiant battle with prostate cancer. Wojcik's lyrical style and spicy harmonic approach set him apart from many other composers of his time.
David Schiff once wrote, "At a time of technical gimmicks and stylistic uncertainty, Raymond Wojcik writes music from the heart that speaks directly to an audience in a distinctive voice."
The American Record Guide wrote of his music, ""Raymond Wojcik is an American-born composer with extraordinary lyrical gifts. His music holds at its core the song or the melody or the cogent, well-defined lyric.....I treasure music like this."
Raymond Wojcik was a treasure for all who knew and worked with him. He will be missed.
Raymond was a composer, conductor and educator. His critically acclaimed CD’s “Akin To Fire” and “Pictures and Stories” were recorded with the Moravian Philharmonic (Czech Rep.) and Rzesnow Philharmonic (Poland) and released on Albany Records. His composition studies were with David Schiff and Donald Keats, and horn with Clarendon van Norman and Martin Smith. Conducting studies have been with George Manahan, Michael Charry and Harold Farberman. Additional studies were at Juilliard, The Aspen School of Music and the Conductors Institute at Bard. He was chosen for conducting master classes with Ricardo Muti, Leonard Slatkin and Pierre Boulez.
He received grants and fellowships from The Argosy Foundation Fund for Contemporary Music, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Westfield Coalition for the Arts, and the Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation. His activities as a composer included a three-year position as composer-in-residence at the Cape May Music Festival. Commissions have been from The Palisades Virtuosi, Duo Fresco, The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, the New Jersey Youth Symphony, The South Hampton Chamber Music Society and The Conductors Institute at Bard. Performances of his works have been by the Grand Rapids Symphony, Bay-Atlantic Symphony, Colonial Symphony, NJ Youth Symphony, Westfield Symphony Orchestra, South Orange Symphony, Bass School of Music Symphony, Memphis Youth Symphony, Amadeus Orchestra, and Southampton Chamber Music Society.
As a conductor, he served as music director of the Garden State Philharmonic (1990-2000) and the Brunswick Symphony (1988-1990). He collaborated with celebrated soloists including Lang Lang, Claude Frank, Maria Bachmann, David Finckel, Charles Neidich, and Eugenia Zukerman. Additionally, he led the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Amadeus Orchestra (U.K.), South Orange Symphony, Rutgers Summerfest Orchestra, Colonial Symphony, Pleven Philharmonic (Bulgaria), New Amsterdam Symphony, New Jersey All-State Orchestra and many festival, theater and ballet orchestras.
Committed to cultivating classical music audiences, Raymond provided the pre-concert Insight lectures for the International Orchestra Series at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, from 2000-2014. His educational projects for young students have received numerous foundation grants.
On June 26, Raymond was able to attend and hear The Hunterdon Symphony perform his “A Hunterdon Ode” to commemorate the tri-centennial of Hunterdon County. A recording of the piece will be part of a time capsule to be opened in 100 years by the Hunterdon Historical Society.
As a conductor and teacher in Westfield High School, he believed that every student had the ability to encounter music and other arts at a deep level. He inspired them by never talking down to them, but always guiding them toward an increasing level of creativity and professionalism in their playing and composing. He regularly brought in professional performers to coach the students. It was not unusual at one of his concerts for people unfamiliar with the music program to wonder what state-wide or regional ensemble this was, only to be amazed when they learned it was actually “only” the orchestra of Westfield High School. Several of his former students have gone on to become professional performers. All of them have gone on to be music lovers.
"At a time of technical gimmicks and stylistic uncertainty, Raymond Wojcik writes music from the heart that speaks directly to an audience in a distinctive voice."
--David Schiff, composer and writer on music
"Raymond Wojcik is a "composer with extraordinary lyrical gifts. His music holds at its core the song or melody or the cogent, well-defined lyric, placing him squarely in the heart of contemporary romanticisim" - "I treasure music like this".
-- Paul Cook, American Record Guide
"There is much beauty here, right from the opening references to hymnody...most effective...Wojcik succeeds perfectly, using spicy harmonies but always giving the impression of antiquarian revelry...The music is very lovely, often tender in a manner the subject matter might not immediately suggest."
-- Colin Clark, Fanfare Magazine May/June 2009
Raymond Wojcik has written for a variety of mediums including works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, dance companies and film. He has been composer-in-residence at The Conductors Institute at Bard, the Cape May Music Festival (NJ), and at Kean University’s Ars Vitalis. Raymond’s two CD's on Albany Records "Akin To Fire" and "Pictures and Stories" have earned critical rave reviews. His music has been been frequently broadcast nation-wide on many public radio stations .
The composer writes, "All of the pieces on this recording tell a story in one way or another. Some are narrative while others are programmatic or cinematic. Visual imagery, both imaginative and concrete is also part of the fabric of these works. These two elements have been part of several of my works written throughout my creative life and it is here in my second CD that I have brought them all together."
Raymond’s previous CD release "Akin To Fire: The Orchestral Music of Raymond Wojcik" is also available online for purchase at AlbanyRecords or Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody.com and many other online sites.