Two decades after serving as the student leader of the California Marching Band, Robert Calonico has been selected as the new professional director of the band.
Calonico becomes the fourth professional director the band has had this century. He replaces retiring band leader Robert O. Briggs, who stepped down June 30 after 24 years.
"Following a thorough national search for a band director, we were delighted to find the ideal candidate with the right combination of skills, education and knowledge to lead this unique band," said Robert W. Cole, Cal Performances director.
"In addition to his educational and professional experience, Robert Calonico is exceptionally well suited for this position since he is a Cal Band alum, and in 1975 he served as student director of the band."
Calonico was director of the UC Jazz Ensembles from 1990 to 1995. His prior teaching experience includes serving as department chair at Terra Linda High School and as a faculty member at Dominican College in Marin County.
An accomplished clarinet and saxophone player, Calonico also has an extensive background as a professional performer, arranger and conductor. Over the years, he has appeared with several local symphony and opera orchestras and has performed with jazz and pop artists.
"I am truly excited to have the opportunity to carry on the wonderful traditions of the Cal Band and to help it grow into the 21st century," said Calonico. "I'm looking forward to working with the student government of the band on the unique challenges facing both student musical activities and the university."
Members of the Cal Band are equally thrilled to have Calonico aboard. "He's the perfect fit for the band," said the band's senior manager, Richie Jenkins. "He's an outstanding musician and music educator, as well as a team player who really wants what's best for us."
A Bay Area native, Calonico holds a master's degree in music from CSU Hayward and a bachelor's degree from Berkeley, where he also received the prestigious Eisner Prize for creative achievement. He was nominated for the Marin Education Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award in 1985.