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June 14, 2000
A red violin and a gold statue: PSC member cops Oscar for movie score

Lehman College's music program includes traditional courses and majors, and a partnership with Local 802, the musicians union in New York City. Courses are offered two days a week for professional musicians. John Corigliano's composition classes combine students just out of high school with experienced musicians. "The musicians are all part of the real world, and the amount of insight they give (the other students) is invaluable," Corigliano said.

John Corigliano can add a film credit, and a coveted statue, to his already crowded resume.

The distinguished professor of music at Lehman College has won multiple Grammy awards and, in 1991, he composed the Metropolitan Opera's first commissioned piece in 25 years.

Corigliano, a member of the Professional Staff Congress, New York State United Teachers' affiliate at City University of New York schools, this year won an Oscar for best original score. He composed the score for the Samuel L. Jackson movie, The Red Violin, a story that follows one violin over several centuries.

The Academy Award has given Lehman and his colleagues needed attention. At one point, the administration was proposing combining the music department with the speech and theater department. "The greatest service the Oscar did was to illuminate what the music department is doing," Corigliano said.

A teacher who 'Sang'

Corigliano was inspired by his musician parents and his music teacher at Midwood High School in Brooklyn, Bella Tillis. "She invented 'Sing' - a thing where all the classes compete against each other writing original lyrics to popular tunes," recalled Corigliano. "She encouraged me and she had faith in me." Tillis is a retiree from the United Federation of Teachers, NYSUT's affiliate in New York City schools.

"John's 435,000 brothers and sisters in NYSUT are certainly proud of him," said NYSUT President Tom Hobart.

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