Over a long and distinguished career, Romeo Cascarino's musical activities have been wide-ranging in scope, including composing, teaching, performing, conducting, orchestrating and arranging. In acknowledgement of his achievements, he was the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships in composition, 1948, 1949, the Gershwin Memorial Prize, the Benjamin Award for Tranquil Music, the Orpheus Award, a citation from the city of his birth for his contribution to the 1976 Bicentennial, commissions from Singing City and former Philadelphia Orchestra principal bassoonist Sol Schoenbach and an Honorary Doctorate from Combs College of Music where, for many years he was head of the Composition Department until his retirement in 1990.
He composed orchestral works, ballets, chamber music, pieces for chorus, piano, voice and a three-act opera, William Penn, the successful world premiere of which was staged in Philadelphia's Academy of Music in 1982. A CD released on the Naxos label in 2006 features his orchestral and chamber works conducted by JoAnn Falletta. In 2011, his Blades of Grass for English Horn and String Orchestra was recorded by Orchestra 2001 on the Innova label. A gifted pianist, Cascarino participated in a number of recordings of his music, and orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New Orleans Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic of London and the Nord Deutches Symphony, have performed his music to critical acclaim. His ballets Pygmalion and Prospice were mounted in Philadelphia and New York. In 1961, he traveled to Rome where he conducted and recorded his arrangements of Pieces for Piano and Orchestra in Cine Citta studios.
From 1950 to 1957, he was Musical Director and pianist for the Co-Opera Company of Philadelphia where under his leadership, the company received national recognition for quality performances of rarely heard operas sung in English, the translations often done by Cascarino himself. He was proficient in Italian and French, had a reading knowledge of Spanish and taught himself Greek.
Cascarino, throughout his life, maintained that Art tends itself to the good of mankind and that this transcendent end is Beauty. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 28, 1922 and died in Norristown, Pennsylvania on January 8, 2002.