Dr. Christopher Palestrant is an Associate Professor, teaching Theory and Composition in the Department of Music at Elizabeth City State University, where he has served since 2001. He has a passionate commitment to teaching and to shepherding new generations of graduates toward making significant contributions to American culture.
Over the past decade, he has assisted the University in its campaign to expand and advance its academic mission. He has revitalized the core curricula in music theory to ensure that every music major develops an understanding of compositional techniques from the 20th and 21st centuries. This not only gives each graduate a greater relevancy in the marketplace, it also helped the Department achieve accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music. That accreditation also paved the way to his developing a new, major Concentration in Music Composition with several graduates now working in the field.
Dr. Palestrant is committed both to developing new teaching methodologies, and to employing new technologies to ensure that every student can approach course materials in ways that play to their strengths. The diversity of his classroom activities are legendary among his students. A typical class might be found in individual or group study, creative project building or enjoying a multimedia lecture. Music, always present in his classroom, ranges from the ancient to the avant-garde, from Handel to hip-hop. He builds elaborate PowerPoint presentations and enriching websites. He comprehensively redesigned and provides daily system administration of a ten station Music Theory computer laboratory.
Through all of this, and through very extensive service on university committees, Dr. Palestrant remains dedicated to practicing his craft as a composer. His recent scores have been performed both by professional ensembles including the Santa Fe Desert Chorale and the Smoky Mountain Brass Quartet, and by our student ensembles including the Albemarle Symphony Orchestra and the ECSU Saxophone Quartet. He has presented original research to national meetings of the College Music Society, to the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, the Evenings at St. Patrick series in Norfolk VA and as the 2008 Carol Grotnes Belk Visiting Composer to Western Carolina University. His music has won several national awards, including the biennial Michael Hennagin Prize in Music Composition at University of Oklahoma and the finals of the Turner Classic Movies Young Film Composer's Competition.
He is also a highly visible member of our community, performing frequently throughout the region both as a soloist and as a member of the blues band, Uphill. Their debut album, which included original songs by Dr. Palestrant and which he co-edited, was named "one of the ten best blues albums of 2009" by National Public Radio's Paul Shugrue.
Dr. Palestrant strives to model and to teach his craft to musicians and non-musicians alike. It is his firm belief that music is an inexorable force for positive change in our society: the only aspect of our culture's heritage ultimately destined to outlast its physical edifice.