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SUNY Potsdam Alumni Present Minerva Award to Robert Christianson '72

07.21.17
Photo of President Esterberg with Michael Sitton and Bob Christianson
From left, Crane School of Music Dean Michael Sitton, Minerva Award recipient Bob Christianson and SUNY Potsdam President Kristin Esterberg.

The SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association recently presented the 2017 Minerva Award to Robert Christianson ’72, during the College’s Reunion Weekend.

The Minerva Award is presented annually to an alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated outstanding professional achievement in his or her field. It is the highest honor that a SUNY Potsdam graduate can receive from the association. Christianson was recognized for his outstanding musical contributions and achievements.

About the recipient:

Emmy-nominated composer, arranger, conductor and keyboard player Robert “Bob” Christianson has made some of the most recognizable musical contributions to broadcast television, film and the orchestral stage over the course of his career.

Christianson attended SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music as an organ major, but his talent was also recognized and enjoyed by many in the local music scene, as Potsdam and Clarkson students rocked out to his amazing keyboard skills in the group, Tin Penny. After graduation, he pursued graduate work in composition at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Christianson then headed back East, to begin his career in New York City as the musical director/conductor for several Broadway shows, including “Godspell,” “Gilda Radner – Live From New York” and “The Magic Show.” He also went on to conduct the “Saturday Night Live” band, and performed and arranged music in the band for “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

A prolific composer, Bob has written eight lm scores and more than 25 award-winning themes for CBS, ESPN and ABC, including the iconic “NCAA Basketball Theme” and the theme packages and promo music for the 1997 Winter Olympics. His musical scores span programming for network and cable television, encompassing hundreds of hours of television scoring and promos for everything from dramas to documentaries, for networks such as NBC, HBO, A&E, TBS, Discovery, the Travel Channel and Animal Planet. With the music for more than 2,000 national commercials under his belt, Christianson has won numerous Clio Awards for his advertising work as well.

As a successful studio synthesist, Bob has recorded with such iconic artists as Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Jan Hammer, Judy Collins, Dianna Ross, Rupert Holmes and producer Arif Mardin.

Bob has had two works premiered by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, as a result of his longtime friendship with its conductor, Marin Alsop. He and colleague Gary Anderson co-arranged the work “Too Hot to Handel,” based on an original concept by Alsop. In 2011, the Baltimore Symphony premiered Bob’s work, “A Christmas Carol – The Concert.” He later served as composer, arranger and executive producer of the PBS broadcast of the work, which also earned him a primetime Emmy nomination for his tune, “No Trouble.” That Emmy nomination was actually his second, with the first being for music he wrote for ABC Sports. Bob’s orchestral works have also been performed by the Colorado Symphony, Concordia Orchestra and Florida Orchestra, among others.

For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, visit www.potsdam.edu/crane.

To find out more about how SUNY Potsdam connects with its devoted alumni, visit www.potsdam.edu/alumni.

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.

Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of College Communications,
(315) 267-2918