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NEC Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Jazz Department with ‘Jazz50’

Jazzed Magazine • News • June 11, 2019

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New England Conservatory (NEC) will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Jazz Studies Department and first fully accredited jazz program at a music conservatory. To commemorate the anniversary and celebrate the department’s vibrant legacy and its place as one of the top jazz education programs in the world, NEC will host Jazz50, a year-long series of concerts and events featuring many of the school’s distinguished jazz alumni, faculty, students and special guests. The celebration will take place during the 2019-2020 academic year in Boston and New York City.

“I’m very grateful for Gunther Schuller’s farsightedness and efforts in establishing the Jazz department in 1969, the first fully-accredited program in a conservatory,” says current Jazz Studies chair Ken Schaphorst. “I’m also grateful to the faculty and students who have established NEC as a leader in the world of jazz education over the past 50 years. It’s been deeply humbling to share the responsibility of shepherding this noble mission for the past 18 years, educating students in the transformational art form of jazz, developing communication between unique individual human voices. I’m excited to have this opportunity with Jazz50 to celebrate the achievements of NEC’s past and present, while looking forward to our future.”

NEC’s Jazz50 programs include Boston events featuring the NEC Jazz Orchestra with Alan Pasqua (alum) and Antonio Sanchez (alum); Jazz Advance: The Legacy of Cecil Taylor (alum) featuring an all-star line-up including Matthew Shipp (former student), Bruce Brubaker (faculty), Dan Tepfer (alum), Ran Blake (faculty), Ethan Iverson (faculty), Joe Morris (faculty); a weeklong residency and concert by Luciana Souza (alum); and The Music of Gunther Schuller featuring the NEC Jazz Orchestra.

NYC events will include an NEC Faculty All-Star Group featuring Fred Hersch (alum, former faculty), and current faculty members Donny McCaslin, Billy Hart and Cecil McBee at the Jazz Standard; Dominique Eade (alum, faculty) and Fred Hersch (alum, former faculty) at the Jazz Standard; and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society (alum) as well as the NEC Alumni Big Band at the Sheen Center. 

“This anniversary provides us the opportunity to reflect on half a century of leadership in jazz education at New England Conservatory, and to celebrate the importance of jazz in both the history and future of American music,” says NEC president Andrea Kalyn.

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