The School of Performing Arts is excited to welcome three new faculty members joining in the Fall 2023 semester: Director of Orchestra Robert Hasty, Coordinator of Musical Theatre Michael Jablonski and Interim Jazz Drums Professor Jason Marsalis. Their diverse expertise and passion for their respective disciplines will enrich our students’ education and contribute to the vibrant artistic community we foster.
Robert G. Hasty is a renowned conductor and music director holding multiple positions, including Music Director of the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor of the Highland Park Strings, and Associate Director of Orchestras and conductor of the Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia at Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. He also serves as the Artistic Director of the International Schools Choral Music Society. Robert’s expertise extends beyond conducting, as he has contributed to music cognition research and presented his findings at international conferences. As a conductor, he has led numerous orchestras and ensembles across the globe, including performances in China, Taiwan, and South Korea. In addition to his musical pursuits, Hasty is a skilled violinist and violist, a passionate cyclist and a member of the Dancing Bohemian Ukulele Team.
Michael D. Jablonski is a highly accomplished figure in the world of musical theatre, excelling as an artist, educator, director and choreographer. With a career spanning over 20 years, he has transitioned from a skilled actor to a respected educator and director/choreographer.
Michael’s most recent performing tenure was serving as the Dance Captain of the Toronto and National Touring company of the hit Broadway show Matilda. He was in the original Broadway company of John Waters’ Cry-Baby. In the most recent Broadway revival of West Side Story, he understudied and performed the role of Riff. Also in New York, he was part of the Broadway cast of The Book of Mormon and went on to perform in both national touring companies. Michael toured the world with eight different national tours: Matilda, The Book of Mormon, West Side Story (50th Anniversary World Tour), Saturday Night Fever, Doctor Dolittle, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Ann-Margret, Victor/Victoria, and Brigadoon. Michael was honored to perform four years with the Radio City Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. On film, he can be seen as a featured dancer in the movie version of The Producers, starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.
On the creative side, Michael has directed Mamma Mia!, We are Proud to Present: A Presentation about the Herero of Namibia.., Wildwood Park, and Another Day (Devised Theatre Piece). His Choreography credits include Mamma Mia!, Grease, The Producers, Hello, Dolly!, and Eurydice. He also choreographed multiple productions of West Side Story: New London Barn Playhouse (Finalist Best Choreography NH Theatre Awards), Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, and Leonia Summer Stage (Fight Director). Michael assisted on the pre-Broadway workshop of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that opened at The Minskoff Theater on Broadway. He created additional choreography for the National Tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Ann-Margret and recently assisted Karen Azenberg’s musical staging of Les Misérables at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City. Michael also supervised four national tours and multiple regional productions as their Dance Captain.
He is a member of is a member of Canadian Actors Equity Association, American Actors Equity Association, American Guild of Variety Artists, and the Screen Actor’s Guild.
Jason Marsalis, a member of the renowned Marsalis family of jazz, has established himself as a remarkable musician from a young age. Raised in a musical household, Jason began playing drums at three years old, later receiving lessons from legendary drummer James Black. By age seven, he was already performing with his father’s jazz group and his brother Delfeayo. Jason’s talent propelled him to become a seasoned touring musician before the age of nine. He furthered his education at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and Loyola University while actively performing and recording with various ensembles. Over the years, Jason expanded his instrumental skills to include the vibraphone, leading his own band and collaborating with notable jazz and classical artists. Despite facing setbacks, Jason’s dedication to music remained unwavering, and he continues to thrive as a composer and performer, leaving a lasting impression with his mature and commanding style.
Benjamin Vasko, DMA, is an esteemed Eastman Music Company Performing Artist, renowned for his expertise in the field. With a strong background in professional teaching, Dr. Vasko has held notable positions such as Lecturer of Tuba & Euphonium at Valdosta State University and Adjunct Instructor of Tuba & Euphonium at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. He has also served as a Brass Coach for the Young Artist Instrumental Program at the prestigious Boston University Tanglewood Institute. In terms of professional performance, Dr. Vasko has displayed his exceptional talent as the Principal Tubist for the Albany (GA) and Valdosta Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also had the privilege of performing with the renowned Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, showcasing his versatility as a musician. Beyond orchestral endeavors, Dr. Vasko has actively engaged in various chamber music and commercial recording projects, leaving a mark on the music scene. His dedication and skill have been recognized in international artist competitions, and he has shared his knowledge and insights through captivating master classes and presentations at professional conferences across the United States.