Student and Faculty Composer Collaborate for Performance Competitions
Student saxophonist captures the spotlight in international arenas.
Although his parents are professional saxophone players, Jordan Lulloff defied comparisons and decided to play the sax all on his own.
In May, the MSU senior in saxophone performance and jazz studies, stepped onto Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington D.C., as one of four winners in the 2015 VSA International Young Soloists Competition. Part of the Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program, the program highlighted the talents and skills of young musicians living with disabilities.
For Lulloff, the honor validated his choice to be a musician. Lulloff experiences dyslexia, and often commits music to memory to overcome the challenges of reading music.
"It's all about perseverance and remembering the reason I play music is because I enjoy it," Lulloff says. "Competitions give me a chance to perform and develop my artistry, and I want as many chances to perform as possible."
Lulloff continues to get those chances. His VSA performance consisted of selections from standard saxophone repertoire as well as "Tenor Attitudes," a composition by Charles Ruggiero, MSU professor of composition and music theory.
As a family friend, mentor, and teacher, Ruggiero was moved that Lulloff chose to play his piece for the renowned competition. Jordan's performance, he says, was evident of his amazing progression from a middle school saxophone player to a sophisticated artist.
"You could always see he had a real talent," Ruggiero says. "I was a little worried that Jordan would always be compared to his parents—Joe and Janet Lulloff—who are great performers, but he's grown into a very advanced virtuoso in his own right."
In mid-July, Lulloff also performed a work that Ruggiero wrote just for him at the 17th World Saxophone Congress 2015 in Strasbourg, France. Entitled "Dancing to Eternity: Five Grooves for Tenor Saxophone and Electronicacoustic Brass and Percussion," Ruggiero's 13-and-a-half minute composition involves Lulloff playing saxophone with pre-recorded tracks of brass and electronic music. Lulloff was one of 350 musicians selected to play at the prestigious festival overseen by honorary presidents Branford Marsalis and Jean-Marie Londeix.
“It was really special to get to share the music of Dr. Ruggiero on an international scale,” Lulloff says. “He has been a close family friend for my entire life, and I have always enjoyed his music. I am very excited to perform this piece many more times in the future.”