The Institute’s goal of preserving and promoting jazz includes introducing people around the world to this great American art form.
The Institute traveled to Russia from May 13-24, 2012. Herbie Hancock and Dee Dee Bridgewater, accompanied Monk Institute Alumni Otis Brown (drums), Gerald Clayton (piano), Lisa Henry (vocals), Mike Rodriguez (trumpet), Walter Smith (saxophone) and Ben Williams (bass), performed at the Moscow International House of Music and the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The trip also included master classes for young, aspiring music students in both cities, including a master class in the famed Hermitage Theater in St. Petersburg and the Gnesin Academy in Moscow, as well as a reception at Spaso House, the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence.
The Institute’s international programs date back to 1989, when Clark Terry and Paul Jeffrey led an Institute summer program in Dolo, Italy. More recently, the Institute has conducted workshops in South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The most successful and far reaching international programs have been the many Institute tours sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, as well as the creation of an alliance with seven Caribbean nations.
The Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Ambassadors, an ensemble of previous Competition winners, was organized in 1995 for a six-week tour of seven African nations. Pianist Ted Rosenthal, drummer Harold Summey, Composers Competition winner Patrick Zimmerli, and vocalist winner Lisa Henry were among the artists who presented workshops and concerts for audiences in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland under the leadership of T.S. Monk.
In 1996, a second State Department tour was assembled, this time featuring the members of the first class of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance along with T.S. Monk, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. The group traveled to India and Thailand, performing and teaching to thrilled audiences who were receiving their first hands-on jazz experience. During the course of the tour, the Institute students performed at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the coronation of the King of Thailand.
The Institute forged an alliance with seven Caribbean nations (St. Lucia, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands, Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad) in 1997, establishing educational outreach programs that bring jazz masters and educators to the people of the Caribbean. Each year, internationally renowned jazz artists and educators such as Bobby Watson, Ellis Marsalis, and Arturo Sandoval present master classes, workshops and concerts with artists and educators from the islands.
In 1998, the second class of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance toured Argentina, Chile, and Peru with Herbie Hancock. Highlights of the tour included a performance at the Summit of the Americas attended by heads of state from 34 countries in North America, South America, and Central America. These students also traveled to Jamaica in 1999 to perform and present educational programs.
In 2000, the third class of students attending the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance appeared at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, and traveled to Egypt in 2001, where they performed and led master classes with Herbie Hancock and Vanessa Rubin. For three years beginning in 2002, the United Nations sponsored a tour of Paris, where students from the Institute of Jazz Performance appeared with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, T.S. Monk, and Wayne Shorter at the annual “Day of Philosophy” event presented by UNESCO. In 2004, the Institute’s fifth class of college students performed at the Tokyo Jazz Festival with Herbie Hancock.
In 2005, the Institute presented an educational tour in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the United States and Vietnam resuming diplomatic relations.
In January 2008 the Institute partnered with the U.S. Department of State to present a jazz education tour of India. Internationally renowned jazz artists Patti Austin, Bob James, Earl Klugh, and Bobby Watson were joined by several accomplished graduates of the Institute’s jazz education programs. Highlights included a concert for 1,000 people in Mumbai, sponsored by VH1 Jazz Masters, and a master class at the Ravi Shankar Institute of Music and Performing Arts in New Delhi.
Also in 2008, the current class of students enrolled in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at Loyola University New Orleans performed with Danilo Perez at the Panama Jazz Festival.
In May 2010 the Institute partnered with the U.S. Department of State to present a jazz education tour of China. Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the Institute’s college students performed for thousands of people at the Shanghai 2010 Expo and Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall. Continuing the tradition of offering jazz education programs for citizens of the world, the musicians also led a master class at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts.
The Institute continues to bring jazz education to communities around the world. In 2013 and 2014, the students of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance visited Israel, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and Turkey. Each tour entails performing as an ensemble and with many of today’s top jazz artists, as well as conducting free master classes and workshops for students.
Most recently, in May 2015 the group visited Morocco under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, conducting clinics with local students and performing for capacity crowds in historic venues like the 16th-century El Badi Palace in Marrakech. The students were accompanied by Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock and Institute Advisory Board member Dee Dee Bridgewater.
In the coming years, the Institute plans to continue producing international tours and bringing jazz to all parts of the world.
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