Richard DeRosa

Professor of Jazz Composition and Arranging

Director of Three O'Clock Lab Band


Commercial Music, Composition Studies, Jazz Studies

Contact Information

Office Location: 
Music Building
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Richard DeRosa received a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition in 2015 for his big band composition Neil which is dedicated to Neil Slater, the former director of the One O’Clock Lab Band (University of North Texas). His 8-movement work titled Life in Poetry and Music, featuring world-renowned vocalist Kurt Elling supported by a jazz quartet, orchestra, and treble choir, was premiered at UNT in March 2022.

Since 2001 Mr. DeRosa has arranged and conducted music for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to feature Toots Thielemans, Annie Ross, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, and Roberta Gambarini among several other notable artists that include a Steven Sondheim theater project (A Bed and a Chair) and an arrangement of The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea for the successful swing jazz Broadway show After Midnight. He also contributed arrangements for the Wynton with Strings concert. Recent large projects include Bernstein at 100 and Joey Alexander with Strings.

In 2012 the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, invited Mr. DeRosa to conduct and present his music in concert. Following that engagement, he was asked to become the ensemble’s chief conductor. After several other commissions throughout 2013, he filled the position from 2014-2016. During that time he released three CD recordings: My Personal Songbook which features the music of legendary jazz bassist Ron Carter; Rediscovered Ellington which features longtime music partners Garry Dial & Dick Oatts - together they created unique and modern renditions of Duke's rare and unheard tunes; Crossing Borders featuring Richie Beirach and Gregor Huebner. Other projects with guest artists include Joshua Redman, Stefon Harris, Kurt Elling, Patti Austin, the New York Voices, Ola Onabule, Warren Vaché, Marvin Stamm & Bill Mays.

Other commissioned arrangements have been recorded by the Mel Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, and Glenn Miller big bands, vocalist Susannah McCorkle, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci on his CD Lovers, Tales, and Dances, acclaimed solo violinist Anne Akiko Meyers on her CD recordings Seasons….Dreams and Shining Night. Mr. DeRosa also served as co-arranger, orchestrator, and conductor for other critically acclaimed recording projects: When Winter Comes featuring guitarist Fred Fried; Dial & Oatts: Brassworks, and their double CD project That Music Always Round Me which DownBeat Magazine selected as one of the top recordings in 2015.

Mr. DeRosa’s arrangements for orchestra have been performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Pops, Portland Maine Pops, Kansas City Symphony with the Bobby Watson Quintet, UNT One O’Clock Lab Band with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra in Holland, Czech National Symphony and the Swedish Television and Radio Orchestra in Stockholm. Other European jazz bands, including the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, have commissioned his compositions and arrangements.

Mr. DeRosa’s compositions for television, film, and theater include background music cues for Another World, As the World Turns, The Guiding Light, commercials for Telex, Bristol-Meyers, and Kodak, various documentaries broadcast on PBS, orchestrations for independent films Gray Matters, Falling For Grace, and Standard Time, and more than twenty original music scores for the national touring U.S. theater company ArtsPower as well as orchestrations for Frankenstein, the Musical. He has also composed scores for videos and hundreds of audiobooks for publishing companies including Bantam Doubleday Dell, Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Prentice-Hall.

Earlier in his career as a performer, DeRosa toured and recorded with Gerry Mulligan, Bob Brookmeyer, Susannah McCorkle, Jackie Cain & Roy Kral, Chuck Wayne, and Marlene VerPlanck. Other employers include Marian McPartland, Gene Bertoncini, Warren Vaché, Larry Elgart, Peter Nero, and vocalist Chris Connor.

Mr. DeRosa is a full professor at the University of North Texas and the director of jazz composition and arranging. In 2017 he was the recipient of the Presidential Excellence Award for faculty. His former teaching positions were at William Paterson University and Manhattan School of Music. He also taught advanced jazz arranging for studio orchestra at The Juilliard School. He is the author of Concepts for Improvisation: A Comprehensive Guide for Performing and Teaching (Hal Leonard Publications) and Acoustic and MIDI Orchestration for the Contemporary Composer (Focal Press) co-authored with Dr. Andrea Pejrolo. The latter book has experienced worldwide success and has been translated into Chinese in a subsequent edition. A new expanded English edition was published in October 2016.

Mr. DeRosa’s publications for professional jazz bands are available through Sierra Music. His compositions and arrangements for public school jazz ensembles are available through Alfred Music (Belwin Jazz), Barnhouse Music, J.W. Pepper, and e-Jazz Lines. Mr. DeRosa remains active as an adjudicator and clinician for music festivals and workshops.