Stars align for second year of MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence Program.
Michigan jazzed up last year. And thanks to a $1 million endowment from the MSU Federal Credit Union, the College of Music at Michigan State University provided a stellar lineup for its second season.
The program provides one-on-one instruction, collaboration, and performance opportunities with the world’s very best jazz musicians. Fueled by the previous year’s momentum, the 2014-15 program featured a blazing line-up of critically acclaimed musicians from the international, national, and regional scene, including Christian McBride, Robin Eubanks, Peter Bernstein, and Michigan jazz icons Tim Froncek and Vincent Bowens.
“Because of the generous gift from the MSU Federal Credit Union, we can provide unforgettable musical and educational experiences for our students and for thousands of people across Michigan,” says James Forger, dean of the MSU College of Music. “The effect of this largest-ever investment in our curriculum will be profoundly felt for generations.”
“The Credit Union’s gift catapults us to the top five or 10 jazz programs in the country,” says Director of Jazz Studies Rodney Whitaker. “It’s made us more visible. We’ve become a model. Every jazz program director I know is asking how we do what we do.”
From October through March, MSU hosted individual guest artists for a week of intensive activity both on- and off-campus. Visits were front-loaded with workshops and public concerts and artists who taught and rehearsed with students from the College’s jazz orchestras. Toward the end of each week, guest artists took to the road with MSU jazz students to visit, teach, and perform at elementary, middle, and high school music programs across the state, including local school districts.
“When we tour and interact with schools, it gives our students immediate testament to the obligation to give back, build community, and be a good mentor,” says Rodney Whitaker, director of MSU Jazz Studies. “Our goal as faculty is not simply to create good musicians, it’s to create the next generation of leaders.”
Whitaker says that guest artists, too, have grown to appreciate the value of jazz studies within colleges and universities, and to see the dedication, respect, and commitment students have toward music, faculty members, and mentors.
“Most of them have thought of an academic place as a sterile environment,” he says. “But when they come and spend time with us and experience the respect and commitment of our students, it blows their mind.”
MSU’s jazz studies program was founded in 2001 and excels in community outreach, engagement, and performance opportunities. Musically active faculty help strengthen college programming and instruction in blues-based jazz through professional connections, chart-topping recordings, and frequent performances across the U.S. and abroad.
“Arts and culture play an instrumental role in shaping a strong and vibrant community,” says April Clobes, president and CEO of MSUFCU. “This gift to the College of Music brings world-renowned jazz artists to perform in our community several times each academic year, enriching the campus and greater mid-Michigan communities through one of America's original art forms."
2014/15 MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist in Residence Program
February 16-20, 2015 (Michigan Jazz Icons)
Vincent Bowens, jazz saxophone. A fixture in Detroit musical culture, Bowens has performed, collaborated, and toured with many regional jazz greats.
Tim Froncek, jazz drums. Froncek is one of the most in-demand drummers in the Midwest and was a member of Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd.
March 2-8, 2015
Peter Bernstein, jazz guitar
Bernstein has been a part of the jazz scene in New York and abroad since 1989. He is one of the most recorded jazz artists of his generation.