Samuel Pilafian

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James Samuel Pilafian (October 25, 1949 in Miami, FL – April 5, 2019 in Tempe, AZ) [1] was an American tuba player.

Miami City in Florida, United States

Miami, officially the City of Miami, is the cultural, economic and financial center of South Florida. Miami is the seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida. The city covers an area of about 56.6 square miles (147 km2), between the Everglades to the west and Biscayne Bay on the east; with a 2017 estimated population of 463,347, Miami is the sixth most densely populated major city in the United States. The Miami metropolitan area is home to 6.1 million people and the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the nation. Miami's metro area is the second-most populous metropolis in the southeastern United States and fourth-largest urban area in the U.S. Miami has the third tallest skyline in the United States with over 300 high-rises, 80 of which stand taller than 400 feet.

Tempe, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Tempe, also known as Hayden's Ferry during the territorial times of Arizona, is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, with the Census Bureau reporting a 2017 population of 185,038. The city is named after the Vale of Tempe in Greece. Tempe is located in the East Valley section of metropolitan Phoenix; it is bordered by Phoenix and Guadalupe on the west, Scottsdale and the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community on the north, Chandler on the south, and Mesa on the east. Tempe is also the location of the main campus of Arizona State University.



Piliafian participated in the National Music Camp in Interlochen, MI and was the second tuba player to win the concerto competition. Via his performance at Interlochen, he was awarded scholarships to study at both Dartmouth College and the Tanglewood Music Center. Leonard Bernstein chose Pilafian to perform in the world premier of Bernstein's Mass at the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Interlochen, Michigan Census-designated place in Michigan, United States

Interlochen is an unincorporated village in Northwest Lower Michigan. It is in Green Lake Township, within Grand Traverse County. The community is noted for the internationally renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts. As of the 2010 census, the Interlochen census-designated place (CDP) had a population of 583.

Dartmouth College private liberal arts university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States

Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League research university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. Established in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, it is the ninth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Although founded as a school to educate Native Americans in Christian theology and the English way of life, Dartmouth primarily trained Congregationalist ministers throughout its early history. The university gradually secularized, and by the turn of the 20th century it had risen from relative obscurity into national prominence as one of the top centers of higher education.

The Tanglewood Music Center is an annual summer music academy in Lenox, Massachusetts, United States, in which emerging professional musicians participate in performances, master classes and workshops. The Center operates as a part of the Tanglewood Music Festival, an outdoor concert series and the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).

Since then, Pilafian performed numerous times in international concerts and recordings. [2] He founded the Empire Brass Quartet and performed in the Broadway Musicals Doctor Jazz and Much Ado About Nothing.

Pilafian was also active in the jazz scene, having played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and, since 1991, in the duo Travelin' Light with guitarist Frank Vignola. With the saxophonist Scott Zimmer, Pilafian also played the music of Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartók, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, and Captain Beefheart. Pilafian also participated in a Pink Floyd recording.

Frank Vignola is an American jazz guitarist. He has played in the genres of swing, fusion, gypsy jazz, classical, and pop.

Maurice Ravel French composer

Joseph Maurice Ravel was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer.

Béla Bartók Hungarian composer and pianist

Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt are regarded as Hungary's greatest composers. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.

Pilafian started teaching at Arizona State University in 1994 and later at North Dakota State University in 2017.

Arizona State University Public university located in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Arizona, United States

Arizona State University is a public metropolitan research university on five campuses across the Phoenix metropolitan area, and four regional learning centers throughout Arizona.

North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, more commonly known as North Dakota State University (NDSU), is a public research university in Fargo, North Dakota. The institution was founded as North Dakota Agricultural College in 1890 as the research land-grant institution for the state of North Dakota. NDSU is a comprehensive doctoral research university with programs involved in very high research activity. NDSU offers 102 undergraduate majors, 170 undergraduate degree programs, 6 undergraduate certificate programs, 79 undergraduate minors, 81 master’s degree programs, 47 doctoral degree programs of study and 10 graduate certificate programs. There were 14,358 students attending NDSU from 47 different states and 79 different countries as of Fall 2017.


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  1. "Sam Pilafian, Tuba Maestro of Multiple Genres, Dies at 69".
  2. "List of Pilafian's Classical Music Recordings".
  1. "Entry in the Internet Broadway Database for Sam Pilafian".