Mustang grad returns to guide orchestra

Kaitlyn Harper-Mustangs Ahead

Photo: Lexi McComas LRHS orchestra teacher Thomas Durante (r) conduct orchestra students

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – LRHS welcomes a former Mustang, Thomas Durante, as the new orchestra director.

This year, Durante teaches Advanced Placement (AP) music theory, orchestra, digital music, and guitar.

Durante was born in Yonkers, New York, grew up in Bradenton, and graduated from LRHS in 2007.

He has played music since a young age beginning with piano when he was seven years old.

At LRHS, he was part of the orchestra during all four years of high school. He also played the piano for the jazz band and percussion for the symphonic band during his senior year.

Durante said, “I play most instruments such as the piano, guitar, ukulele, drums and percussion, viola, and violin.”

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During his teaching career he has taught various music classes at the elementary, middle, and high school level for six years. He also taught for over 15 years in private lessons.

Durante enjoys teaching his students whatever music they want to learn as it keeps the content relevant and keeps the student engaged, but his favorite to teach is classical music.

Durante took this job at LRHS after his friend Dan Shafer was the previous Orchestra director. After hearing about the opportunity, Durante quickly applied to take over for Shafer.

Durante liked the change from teaching elementary school to teaching high school because the Mustangs already have a baseline of musical knowledge which he can use to create and perform beautiful music.

Durante said, “My favorite part of teaching is when I can see the improvements in my students and I know we are making progress.”

Durante is related to American actor, singer, comedian, and pianist Jimmy Durante.