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Rob Kapilow

Dr. Robert S. Kapilow
Class of 2009

  Rob Kapilow photo

At Commencement 2009, Rob Kapilow and Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. listen to the reading of the citation conferring the degree.


Once upon a time, long before top 40 radio and MTV and iPods, our rock stars were composers. The genre we now know as classical was the musical vernacular of its time: powerful, melodic works with broad reach and deep meaning.

Rob Kapilow is better able than anyone to explain why, and to demonstrate why those meanings continue to resonate today. A gifted composer in his own right, Rob is also an insightful and empathetic translator of those masterworks, giving them new life for these modern times.

After conducting the University of Scranton Band in the world premiere of his first commissioned composition, Borba for concert band, in 1985, he launched a series of classical music education programs, “What Makes It Great,” on National Public Radio fifteen years ago. Through appearances on television and the publication of a book, the award-winning All You Have To Do Is Listen, he cemented his well-earned reputation as an unparalleled teacher able to uncover the mysteries of classical music and foster joy and wonderment in listeners old and new.

Rob’s efforts have included a special focus on young people: He designed a “What Makes It Great” series for teenagers that was presented to thousands of middle- and high-school students in collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and his “FamilyMusik” compositions and presentations include musical settings of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, Van Allsburg’s Polar Express, and Play Ball, based on “Casey at the Bat.” He has composed numerous regionally based commemorative works, many of which are part of his “Citypieces” series, and he continues to guest-conduct ensembles throughout the world, ranging from major orchestras to Broadway shows.

A conductor, composer, educator, commentator, and author, he models the Jesuit belief in applying timeless messages to current times. Therefore we, the President and Trustees of The University of Scranton, in solemn convocation assembled and in accord with our chartered authority, declare



That he may enjoy all the rights and privileges of this, our highest honor, we have issued these letters patent under our hand and the corporate seal of the University on this thirty-first day of May in the year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine.

Carl J. Kuehner, Chair, Board of Trustees
Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., President

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