Donald DeRoche

Director of Chamber Music

Dr. Donald DeRoche was the director of bands and Chair of Performance Studies at DePaul University in Chicago between 1979 until 2008. Beginning in 2007 and continuing until today, he has been the Director of the chamber music program for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. Dr. DeRoche earned degrees in music education and performance at the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in music education at Northwestern University.

For three years he was clarinetist with the U.S. Army Band in Washington, D.C., and he spent two seasons as principal clarinetist with the Victoria (Canada) Symphony Orchestra. He appeared as guest artist at the Alaska Festival of Music, and soloist with the Czech, Arcturus and Vancouver string quartets. On his return to the U.S. he spent six years directing the band program at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, Illinois.

For six years he served as conductor of the Palatine Concert Band, an adult amateur ensemble. Dr. DeRoche conducted the DePaul Wind Ensemble in Austria, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Ireland, and Hungary, and has been guest conductor with professional and conservatory wind orchestras in Estonia.

His wind ensemble can be heard on ten recordings on the EMI, Albany Records, and Reference Recordings labels. The recording project includes a variety of 20th century works and pieces for solo instrument and winds. Soloists in the series include Donald Peck, Mary Stolper, Robert Morgan, William Buchman, Lewis Kirk, Larry Combs, John Yeh, Julie DeRoche, John Hagstrom, Charles Vernon, Rami Solomonow, Christopher Costanza, and Floyd Cooley.

Who is your favorite composer and why?

W. A. Mozart is my favorite composer, followed closely by Igor Stravinsky. Both composers produced music that speaks to the common human and emotional centers that we all share. While speaking to our deepest selves, they do it in a clear, logical and genuine language. When I listen to their music I come away feeling like I know more about myself and more about the world.

What was the first ensemble you played in?

In fourth grade I went to my first school band rehearsal with my clarinet. Things moved so fast and the older kids played so much better that I did, that I was sure I could never be part of it. After the rehearsal the conductor came over to me to say that everyone felt overwhelmed the first rehearsal. He told me to stick with it….so I did. I’m so happy I stuck it out!

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