Pitt announces new director of jazz studies program


Image via University of Pittsburgh

Renowned flutist Nicole M. Mitchell will fill the role of the vacant jazz studies program director beginning in July.

By Tamara Alchoufete, For The Pitt News

After the unexpected death of Professor Geri Allen in June 2017, the University has been searching for a new director of the prestigious jazz studies program. Her successor was chosen at the beginning of this year — renowned flutist Nicole M. Mitchell will assume the position in July.

Mitchell is an award-winning composer, educator and founder of music ensemble Black Earth Ensemble, which celebrates African-American music. Mitchell has more than 25 years of musical experience, and her future colleagues are looking forward to the chance to work with her.

Dr. Mathew Rosenblum, the chair of the music department, spoke on the future of the jazz studies program.

“[We] are extremely excited to have professor Mitchell as the next director of the University of Pittsburgh jazz studies program,” Rosenblum said. “She is the perfect choice to lead the jazz studies program into the future. In particular, professor Mitchell’s long-standing work and deep commitment to the role of music in relation to social and environmental justice provides important models for our students.”

Though Mitchell’s official arrival is more than six months away, it’s heavily anticipated. Her future administrative assistant and jazz program assistant, Frank Hammond, spoke about the future of the program.

“She has the unique skill of bringing everyone together and will have the jazz program collaborate with different departments and programs around Pittsburgh,” Hammond said. “I look forward to working with her to help prepare and educate the next generation of jazz musicians and scholars.”

She will come from the University of California at Irvine, where she previously held an educator position. In a press release, Mitchell shared her anticipation about coming to Pitt, including her hopes to collaborate with community-based organizations for the sake of engagement and innovation.

“Coming to Pitt is a special moment, a sort of calling for me to bring my full self, where I feel a refreshing openness and enthusiasm from the Pitt community to share my vision,” Mitchell said. “I have big shoes to fill, following the incredible work Geri Allen accomplished, making connections between tradition and innovation. I’m excited to explore the full spectrum of creative possibilities for jazz at Pitt.”