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February 24, 2004

Purdue orchestra to perform with singing NYPD officer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue University Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Band will perform April 4 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre, Indianapolis, with world-renowned tenor and New York City police officer Daniel Rodriguez to raise scholarship money for students in Purdue's musical ensembles.

Purdue Science Bound students will be in the audience for the 3 p.m. concert as part of their enrichment program. Science Bound, started in 2002, prepares Indianapolis Public Schools students, many of whom are underrepresented minority students, for a college education. Those who complete the program earn a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Purdue to study engineering, science, math, agriculture, technology or math/science education.

"Who better than Daniel Rodriguez, the police officer who also sings operatic tenor, to introduce these Science Bound students to symphonic music and opera," says Wesley Campbell, director of Science Bound. "Rodriguez, the son of Puerto Rican parents, has achieved international acclaim out of humble beginnings in Brooklyn, N.Y. One may not immediately think Puerto Rican when one thinks of opera. Rodriguez is proof to these young people that being a minority student does not mean that they have to expect a certain future. Rodriguez shows that even the unexpected is possible."

Rodriguez first discovered his singing talent while attending a junior high theater arts class taught by Juilliard graduate Elliot Richard Dorfman.

"Elliot trained me at first as a baritone because I had good low tones," Rodriguez says. "He was preparing me along the lines of Plácido Domingo, who also started as a baritone."

Rodriguez made his Carnegie Hall debut at 17, billed as a baritone. While waiting for his operatic career to take off, he trained to become a police officer. As an officer, he caught the attention of people who heard his voice at department functions and ceremonial events.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani introduced him to the general public at a New York Yankees game where Rodriguez sang the National Anthem. History intervened on Sept. 11, 2001, and the tenor's singing became a source of solace and comfort to the millions who were shocked and grieving after the terrorist attacks on the United States.

In the subsequent months, Rodriguez appeared on a variety of television shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Today Show," "LIVE with Regis & Kelly," "Good Morning America," ABC TV's "New Year's Eve 2002" hosted by Peter Jennings, CNN's "Larry King Live" and "Late Show with David Letterman." Other performances have included the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Plaza, the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics and the White House for President Bush.

His recent CD "From My Heart" was produced by Grammy winner Tom Scott and was released on Manhattan Records.

"This is an amazing turn of events for me," Rodriguez says. "It's a dream come true. Singing is my passion."

He agreed to sing at the upcoming concert in Indianapolis after performing with the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band at the Indy 500 in May, says Jay Gephart, conductor of the Purdue Symphony Orchestra and Purdue Symphonic Band. "He said then that he would be interested in coming back to perform with us again."

The music for the concert will be predominantly patriotic favorites and American ballads. The symphonic band will perform the first portion, which will include well-known classics such as John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" and contemporary compositions such as "El Camino Real," commissioned by and dedicated to the 581st Air Force Band in 1985.

The symphony orchestra will perform "American Salute" by Morton Gould and will accompany Rodriguez on such classics as "Oh Shenandoah" and "God Bless America."

Purdue does not have a school of music, yet 650 students are involved in various band programs. Of those students, 100 are members of the symphony orchestra and another 75 play for the symphonic band.

"Many of our students choose Purdue because they want to major in sciences and engineering, yet students with these aptitudes also often have a passion and talent for music as well," Gephart says. "Thanks to our band programs, they can have both."

This concert will be presented by Purdue Bands, the Purdue Office of Advancement and the Purdue Alumni Association, with sponsorship by friends and alumni of Purdue Bands and more than 15 Indianapolis businesses.

Tickets, which are $10 and go on sale March 1, can be purchased at the Hilbert Circle Theatre box office at (317) 639-4300 or (800) 366-8457, or the Loeb Playhouse box office on the Purdue campus at (800) 914-SHOW.

Writer: Reni Winter, (765) 496-3133,

Sources: Jay Gephart, (765) 494-7886,

Wesley Campbell, (765) 494-0018,

Kathy Matter, public relations director, Purdue Bands, 765 496-6785,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: A publication-quality photograph of Daniel Rodriguez is available at

Related Web sites:
Purdue University Bands

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