DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire will celebrate the life and legacy of Paul Verrette, associate professor emeritus of music, at a musical tribute Thursday, June 3, 2010. Verrette died Aug. 5, 2009.
The tribute begins at 8 p.m. in the Johnson Theatre. The event will feature pianists Mike Markaverich, Chris Kies, Arlene Kies, Ryan Parker, Mark Shilansky, Jim Butka, and others, in a repertoire covering classical to ragtime to jazz. The event also will feature members of Verrette’s family: sons Chris Verrette, a violinist, and Mark Verrette, a cellist; his daughter-in-law Hallie Fishel-Verrette, a singer; and his only grandchild Eleanor Verrette, a violist. Remembering Paul Verrette in words will be John Kirkpatrick, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, as well as alumni and students. A reception will follow.
“Paul was a rare colleague, one whose passion for the university was as strong and deep as his passion for music. Although he was classically trained, he grew over his career as a master jazzman, revered by the traditional jazz community, including by some of its great players…and he played with too many to count,” Kirkpatrick says.
“Funny, Paul always kept a beat by moving his legs, even while sitting and talking, which he loved to do, as if he were some anointed keeper of life’s special tempo and rhythm, acutely aware of the sounding of life tones unnoticed by most of us. He was a walking store of UNH history, of both events and of people. We lost an irreplaceable colleague and an extraordinary human being,” he says.
Born in Dover in 1930, Verrette was educated in Dover schools, went on to graduate from UNH in 1952 and received his master's degree in musicology from Boston University. Verrette taught for more than 35 years in the UNH Department of Music. Although identified with jazz for much of his career, Verrette's teaching included classical piano instruction, music appreciation and music history.
One of his enduring legacies was bringing the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Jazz and the Traditional Jazz Series to UNH in the 1970s. He and David Seiler, professor of music, worked tirelessly to establish the concert series, for which Verrette wrote program essays for nearly 200 concerts. It remains a vital force for jazz music in the region.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling more than 12,200 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students.
Paul Verrette, associate professor emeritus of music at the University of New Hampshire.