MUSC 2120: The Jazz Orchestra and Orchestral Approaches to Jazz featuring guest speaker David Sanford

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

4:15pm - 5:30pm

Composer David Sanford, Elizabeth T. Kennan Professor of Music at Mount Holyoke College, joins Professor Anthony Cheung as a guest speaker for Cheung’s course, MUSC 2120 The Jazz Orchestra and Orchestral Approaches to Jazz. The virtual talk is free and open to the public. Please write to Professor Cheung directly, if you would like to attend.

Guest Speaker Series

Professor Sanford’s visit is part of a series of MUSC 2120 The Jazz Orchestra and Orchestral Approaches to Jazz guest talks this semester. Click here to view all upcoming MUSC 2120 talks in the series.

About David Sanford

David Sanford credits a variety of influences with igniting his musicianship. “I started on trombone when I was about ten and liked big band music early. I wanted to be a jazz musician. Charles Mingus inspired me to be a composer later on.” Sanford was also influenced by rhythm and blues/funk groups like Parliament, the Isley Brothers, and Sly and the Family Stone and, later, by orchestral and more mainstream popular music. After completing undergraduate music studies at the University of Northern Colorado, he earned a master’s degree in theory and composition from the New England Conservatory of Music and an M.F.A. and Ph.D. at Princeton University.

Sanford has won many awards and honors, including a BMI Student Composer Award, a Koussevitzky Commission and a Guggenheim Fellowship, which enabled him to take a year off to focus exclusively on composing during graduate school. Recently, Sanford won the Samuel Barber Rome Prize Fellowship, allowing him to stay at the American Academy in Rome for 11 months with a group of 25 to 30 scholars in other areas of the humanities. One of the referees for his work wrote: “David Sanford is the real thing, a composer in the American tradition of brash, open-eared exploration: no material is too exalted or too debased for him to transform into his living art.”

Sanford’s works have been performed by the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Harlem Festival Orchestra, cellist Matt Haimovitz, the Corvini e Iodice Roma Jazz Ensemble, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, Speculum Musicae, the Empyrean Ensemble at UC Davis, Mount Holyoke faculty members Linda Laderach, Adrianne Greenbaum, and Larry Schipull, and dozens of other groups and performers. In addition, he has conducted performances of his own works at Monadnock Music, New England Conservatory, the Knitting Factory, and the Five Colleges New Music Festival, and leads his own big band, the Pittsburgh Collective.

At Mount Holyoke, Sanford teaches theory (ear training, class harmony, and advanced seminar), composition, twentieth-century music history, jazz history, music in film, and music of the 1970s.

About MUSC 2120 The Jazz Orchestra and Orchestral Approaches to Jazz

MUSC 2120 Instructor: Anthony Cheung

This course offers several views of what it means to write for the “jazz orchestra.” As the history of jazz tends to prioritize the contributions of individuals and small groups, what does it mean for composers who have ambitions that extend beyond typical expectations of instrumental forces, duration, and form? We will focus on specific examples that have challenged conventions and redefined idioms. From the innovations in orchestration and scale of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the classic Gil Evans/Miles Davis albums, to the “progressive” experiments of Stan Kenton (and later Don Ellis), to the intergalactic theater of the Sun Ra Arkestra, to works for full symphony orchestra, we will examine complex issues of tradition, community, and race that have accompanied these collaborations, and the compatibility (or not) of musical challenges regarding improvisation, notation, and pedagogy.

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