Medfield composer prepares MHS-commissioned work

By Chris McCue Potts
Hometown Weekly Contributor

Growing up in Agawam, Mass., with a musician for a father, and music a part of his everyday life, it’s no surprise that accomplished composer, music educator and performer Justin Casinghino, and his wife, Nicole, also a music educator, chose Medfield as a place to raise their family.

“We were looking for a place with a small-town feel with good schools, and Medfield seemed just right. To top it off, my former colleague at MIT, Fred Harris (Wind/Jazz Ensemble Director and professor), raved about the school music program, so everything we heard confirmed Medfield was perfect for us,” said Justin Casinghino.

In addition to his time at MIT, Casinghino is a lecturer for composition and music theory at Boston University and Brandeis University, a faculty member at Rivers School Conservatory, and directs youth programs on music composition with the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

Casinghino plays multiple instruments, including piano and saxophone, and is a vocalist. And while his current focus is classical music, Casinghino also has extensive training and experience in jazz, rock and pop. He holds three degrees in music, including a master’s and doctorate, and his resume includes studying with the likes of Gunther Schuller, and having his compositions performed at numerous prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall.

The Medfield resident and father of four daughters, ages 10 to 2, looks at this year as a particularly exciting time. His oldest daughter is a fourth grader at Dale Street School and has joined the band program on clarinet. In addition, Casinghino has been hired to create a commissioned work for Medfield High School ensembles.

“Growing up with my dad as a full-time musician, I just thought that’s what everyone did,” Casinghino laughed. “He’d be on the road touring or playing in wedding bands, and as a little kid, my earliest memory is being with him after one of his shows, riding a dolly across the dance floor. My dad later taught music in the school, and that's when I started taking lessons – first on guitar, then piano and saxophone. I began composing music in middle school.”

Just as music has been a part of his childhood, Justin and his wife work at creating the same musical home life here in Medfield with their own children.

“We’ve got one on piano and clarinet, another on harp, and everyone is always singing. It can be quite the loud house at times!” said Casinghino.

Casinghino added that all of his experiences have contributed to his desire to get more involved with Medfield music initiatives.

“Given that Nicole and I are both music educators, we know what music did for us growing up and the power it has on a community. Being involved with the music program here in town is so important to us,” he said.

Casinghino is in the early stages of developing the commissioned work to be performed by three Medfield High School ensembles at the public MHS POPs event on Saturday, May 18. And while the entire process is still taking shape, Casinghino is certain about one element: the piece will be inspired by the work of Medfield-born Lowell Mason, the father of music education in the U.S.

The commissioned work is sponsored by the Medfield Music Association for the benefit of the Medfield Public School Music Program and funded by a generous grant from the Medfield Cultural Council. The Council receives support from Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, and also receives matching funds from the Town of Medfield.

“The Cultural Council is thrilled to contribute to what will certainly be an outstanding performance, and, more importantly, create a lasting legacy for Medfield. Lowell Mason would be proud!” said Council Chair Ron Gustavson.

Compositions by Casinghino can be found at www.jdcas.com.

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