Ron Rudkin (saxophone, clarinet, and flute) is a jazz performer, band leader, arranger, orchestral and chamber musician and has been active on the North Carolina jazz and commercial music scene for over 40 years. As Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts he served as Director of the Jazz Program and taught Music Theory for over four decades until his retirement in 2023. He also holds the post of Associate Principal and Second Clarinet in the Winston-Salem Symphony. As a member of various North Carolina jazz groups and as part of the UNCSA concert schedule Ron has performed with trumpeters Marvin Stamm and Jon Faddis, trombonist Carl Fontana, guitarist Bruce Forman, pianists Phil Markowitz, Keith Waters, Jonathan Lefcoski and Stefan Karlsson, and drummers Steve Houghton and Louis Bellson. A veteran big band musician, he has appeared with the orchestras of Glenn Miller, Les and Larry Elgart, Guy Lombardo, Peter Duchin, Russ Morgan, and the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra, Camel City Jazz Orchestra, and Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra.
Ron is featured on flute and clarinet on the 2012 recording Carolina Tracks, JSF Records, spearheaded by pianist Keith Waters to fund the NC Jazz Scholarship, and including “North Carolina’s top jazz musicians”. Ron was awarded the Jazz Composers Fellowship grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, which resulted in his CD, Bright Skies. The recording features Ron on Saxophone and Clarinet, and includes original compositions as well as jazz standards.
Ron holds a Master of Music in Woodwind Performance from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music from East Carolina University, where he received a Distinguished Alumnus Award.
As freelance musician and contractor,
Ron has performed in concert with a diverse mix of celebrities from the worlds of entertainment, pop, and jazz: Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Manhattan Transfer, Natalie Cole, Tom Jones, Michael Feinstein, Lou Rawls, the Temptations and Four Tops, Rich Little, Ben Vareen, and Eartha Kitt. He served as Music Director for the annual Bing Crosby Celebrity Charity Golf Tournament for fifteen years (1986-2001), accompanying various celebrities from the entertainment industry including: Bob Hope, Joe Williams, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney, Smokey Robinson, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Hal Linden, Sharon Lawrence, Robert Guillaume, Glen Campbell, Roy Clark, and others.
As an arranger
Ron has scored for everything from jazz septet with four horns to full symphony orchestra. His pops arrangements have been performed by regional symphonies as well as orchestras around the United States and abroad. His arrangements have been recorded by the New Century Saxophone Quartet and individual members of that group. Ron organized, led, arranged for, and performed with UNCSA Alumni-Faculty Jazz groups each summer in concerts at Manteo (Outer Banks of NC) for almost 10 years as part of the UNCSA summer performance series.
As a classical musician
Ron plays Associate Principal and Second clarinet in the Winston-Salem Symphony, has appeared with the North Carolina, Greensboro, Charlotte, and Western Piedmont symphonies, and is a former member of the Nashville (TN) Symphony. He has also performed as principal clarinet with the Carolina Chamber Symphony, and appeared frequently on chamber music concerts with the Carolina Chamber Symphony players and with other faculty artists at UNCSA. Ron also co-leads a regional flute choir, which was a featured in a performance at a recent National Flute Association (NFA) annual conference.