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Battisti founded and conducted the NEC Wind Ensemble for 30 years. The ensemble is recognized as being one of the premiere ensembles of its kind in the United States and throughout the world. It has performed often at music conferences, recorded for Centaur, Albany and Golden Crest records and had many of its performances broadcast over the National Public Radio.
Battisti has been responsible for commissioning and premiering over 50 works for wind ensemble by distinguished American and foreign composers including Warren Benson, Leslie Bassett, Robert Ceely, John Harbison, Robin Holloway, Witold Lutosławski, William Thomas McKinley, Vincent Persichetti, Michael Colgrass, Daniel Pinkham, Gunther Schuller, Robert Selig, Ivan Tcheripnin, Sir Michael Tippett, William Kraft, Robert Ward and Alec Wilder. Critics, composers and colleagues have praised Battisti for his commitment to contemporary music and his outstanding performances.
Battisti often appears as a guest conductor with many university, college, military, professional and high school bands and wind ensembles as well as a guest conductor/clinician and teacher throughout the United States, England, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Scandinavia, Australia, China, Taiwan, Canada, South America, South Korea, Iceland and the former U.S.S.R. Recently he has appeared as a guest conductor with the New World Symphony Orchestra, US Marine Band and the Interlochen Arts Academy Band.
Past President of the US College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), Battisti is also a member of the American Bandmasters Association (ABA) and founder of the National Wind Ensemble Conference, World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE), Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (MYWE) and New England College Band Association (NECBA). In 2000 he was appointed the inaugural conductor for the Tanglewood Institute's Young Artists Wind Ensemble. Battisti has served on the Standard Award Panel of American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and been a member of the Music Panel for the Arts Recognition and Talent Search (ARTS) for the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts. For many years he served as editor for various music publishing companies and is currently a consulting editor for The Instrumentalist magazine.
Battisti constantly contributes articles on wind ensemble/band literature, conducting and music education to professional journals and magazines and is considered one of the foremost authorities in the world on wind music literature. He is the co-author of Score Study for the Wind Band Conductor (1990) and author of The 20th Century American Wind Band/Ensemble (1995) and The Winds of Change (2002).
Awards and honors
In 1986 and again in 1993, Mr. Battisti was a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, England. He has received many awards and honors including an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Ithaca College in 1992, the first Louis and Adrienne Krasner Excellence in Teaching Award from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1997, the Lowell Mason Award from the Massachusetts Music Educators Association in 1998, the New England College Band Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 and the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic's Medal of Honor in 2001.
In 2001, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute established the "Frank L. Battisti Tanglewood Institute Conducting Residency" which is awarded each summer to a talented young wind ensemble conductor. Under Battisti's guidance the recipient participates in the Institute's Young Artists Wind Ensemble program as a conducting assistant and chamber music coach. In June 2001 Ithaca (NY) High School instituted and presented the first "Frank L. Battisti Instrumental Music Award." Battisti graduated from Ithaca High School and was Director of Bands there from 1955-67. This award is presented annually to an Ithaca High School Band member who "possesses high musicianship, a desire for excellence, creativity and enthusiasm."
Frank Battisti's teaching career began as an instrumental teacher in the Ithaca City Public Schools in 1953. He was appointed Director of Bands at Ithaca High School in 1955 and remained in this position until 1967. He also served as chairperson of the Instrumental Music Department from 1961-67.
The Ithaca High School Band, under Battisti's direction, achieved national recognition as one of the finest and most unusual high school bands in the nation. The concert band performed at the Ithaca College School of Music, Eastman School of Music, Music Educators National Conference (MENC), Mid West National Band and Orchestra Clinic (Chicago 1965), Rockefeller Center, the New York World's Fair (1964) and at other music conferences. In 1997 the John Philip Sousa Foundation selected Battisti's Ithaca High School Concert Band for their Historic Roll of Honor of High School Concert Bands, 1920 1980. This Roll of Honor identifies high school concert bands whose musical excellence at the national level exerted historically significant influence on high school band programs. Eugene Corporon, President elect of the College Band Directors National Association and Director of Wind Studies at North Texas State University, hails the Ithaca High School Band under the leadership of Frank Battisti "as one of the truly great achievements of instrumental music education in the twentieth century."
In 1958 Battisti inaugurated the Ithaca High School Band Commissioning Works Project. From 1958-67, the Ithaca High School Band commissioned 24 works for band. Many of these works were published and have become part of the standard literature for the wind band medium. Composers commissioned by the band included Pulitzer Prize in Music winners Leslie Bassett, Karel Husa, Robert Ward, Warren Benson, David Borden, Carlos Chavez, Barney Childs, Walter Hartley, Vincent Persichetti, Armand Russell, Gunther Schuller and Alec Wilder.
Guest soloists and conductors appearing with the Ithaca High School Band while Battisti was conductor of the ensemble included Benny Goodman, Carl "Doc" Severinsen, Donald Sinta, Harvey Phillips, The New York Brass Quintet, Jimmy Burke, Vincent Persichetti, Norman Dello Joio, Thomas Beversdorf, Clyde Roller, Frederick Fennell, William D. Revelli and Walter Beeler.
In December 1993 Meredith Music Publications published a book, One Band That Took a Chance by Brian Norcross. It is a detailed account of Mr. Battisti's innovative high school band program in Ithaca, New York from 1955-67.