Close to 400 members of the Villa Maria College and Western New York communities gathered to celebrate the life ofJames Kurzdorfer on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. in the Villa Maria College Auditorium. .
A long-time, respected music faculty member at Villa Maria College, Jim studied double bass at the New England Conservatory in Boston and earned a music performance degree from the University of Buffalo. He held a master’s degree in music theory from the University of Buffalo. Jim was the original bassist with the internationally-known jazz-fusion group Spyro Gyra, and continued to perform with locally and nationally-known jazz musicians such as trumpeter Jeff Jarvis, keyboardist Bobby Jones, Saxophonist Bob Militello, as well as flamenco guitarist and composer Mir Ali. He also directed the annual jazz summer camp for high school jazz musicians at Villa Maria College.
Jones and Militello came out to pay tribute to their friend Jim, along with vocalist and long-time friend, Colleen Williams and other fellow musicians, as wel as current and former students. A selection of Jim’s favorite songs were played in-between fond memories and stories told to the audience by some of those who knew him best. During the service, those who played with Jim often stopped during their musical interludes for a moment of silence, asking the audience to imagine Jim playing his bass one last time in the College Auditorium alongside them.
On May 15, 2011, Sister Marcella Marie Garus, CSSF, president of Villa Maria College posthumously conferred upon Jim the status of Professor Emeritus at the College’s 47th Commencement Ceremony, in regonition of his many achievements and his lifelong committment to Villa Maria College.