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Grant number: BH-50600-13

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BH-50600-13

Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT 06824-5195)
Laura Nash (Project Director: 03/07/2013 to present)

Duke Ellington and American Popular Culture

Two one-week Landmarks workshops for eighty school teachers on Duke Ellington and his world.

Two one-week Landmarks workshops for eighty school teachers on Duke Ellington and his world. This workshop illuminates the life and music of Duke Ellington (1899-1974) in cultural and historical context, using eight compositions (including "Mood Indigo" and "Take the 'A' Train") as "anchor works" for the week's study. Under the direction of music professor Laura Nash, participants engage with Ellington's work and his world through lectures, discussions, hands-on musical participation, and two all-day visits to historic and cultural sites in New York City. Taking the A train to Harlem, participants visit the Sugar Hill Historic District, where Ellington lived, and are guided on a private tour of the National Jazz Museum by Executive Director Loren Schoenberg. The second day trip to New York features the resources of Jazz at Lincoln Center with curator Phil Schaap. Participants explore the role of Ellington's radio and television broadcasts at the Paley Media Center with Jim Shanahan (Boston University) and learn about Ellington's long form music at Carnegie Hall, where "Black, Brown, and Beige" premiered in 1943. A jazz show at Birdland Jazz Club and a performance of swing dance music conclude the day visits to New York. In Fairfield, historian and director of Black Studies Yohuru Williams provides relevant grounding in twentieth-century African-American history and addresses intersections of race and popular culture. During the days on campus, music professor and bassist Brian Torff leads a specially assembled live big band in presentations and performances to give participants direct experience with the anchor works and with improvisation, as well as opportunities for discussion with band members. Workshop guest faculty include jazz critic and journalist Gary Giddins; educator and composer David Berger (Juilliard), who transcribed and edited the majority of Ellington's works; and Monsignor John Sanders, trombonist and librarian for the Ellington Orchestra, who shares his first-hand knowledge of playing, working, and traveling with Ellington, and of developing the Ellington archives. Prior to and during the workshop, participants read Ellington's Music is My Mistress; Harvey Cohen's Duke Ellington's America; John Edward Hasse's Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington; and Mark Tucker's The Duke Ellington Reader. They also have access to a password-protected website with Ellington recordings, sheet music, and video clips.

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Project fields:
Film History and Criticism

Program:
Landmarks of American History

Division:
Education Programs

Total amounts:
$177,340 (approved)
$169,165 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2013 – 12/31/2014