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Wadada Leo Smith To Receive UCLA Medal On November 8

Jazzed Magazine • News • October 31, 2019

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Photo by William Matczynski

Composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith will receive the UCLA Medal, the University’s highest honor, in a ceremony and concert on Friday, November 8, 2019 at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music.

The UCLA Medal is bestowed upon individuals of exceptional achievement whose bodies of work and contributions to society illustrate the highest ideals of the university. Recipients include artists Herb Alpert, Plácido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald and Quincy Jones; civil rights activists James M. Lawson, Jr. Loretta Jones and Rep. John Lewis; Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and U.N. secretaries Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon.

“Wadada Leo Smith is a category-defying composer whose achievements have profoundly shaped American music,” said chancellor Gene Block, who will present the award. “His work exemplifies a diversity of original thought that has enriched the lives of others, demonstrating UCLA’s highest academic and professional values.”

The UCLA Medal Ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 8 in the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center Ensemble Room at UCLA.  It will be followed immediately by a concert. Featured on the concert will be Smith’s String Quartet No. 9, movement 3 (“Angela Davis”), and one movement from his String Quartet No. 11 with the RedKoral Quartet.  In addition, an excerpt from his Four Symphonies will feature Smith on trumpet, with UCLA professor Nina Sun Eidsheim on vocalist and CalArts professor Vicky Ray on piano. The ceremony and performance are free and open to the public, but advance reservations are required.

“Wadada Leo Smith’s life and work exemplifies the fertile intersection of theory and creativity that we encourage our students to explore,” said Eileen Strempel, dean of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. “We are delighted to honor him at UCLA for his brilliance, his genuine care for others, and the scholarly significance of his work.”

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