SFCM Offers Bachelor of Music in Roots, Jazz, and American Music
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), in partnership with SFJAZZ, has announced a distinctive new initiative that will bring together promising young musicians and illuminati of the jazz world: The Roots, Jazz, and American Music (RJAM) program will be the first collaboration of its kind in which a world-class music conservatory is formally linked to an award-winning jazz concert venue and its all-star resident ensemble, SFJAZZ Collective. The inaugural, four-year bachelor’s degree program will welcome its first-ever class of Roots, Jazz, and American Music majors in the fall of 2017, which will also mark SFCM’s 100th anniversary of delivering an extraordinary education to some of the world’s most talented musicians. The Conservatory is pleased to kick off the next century with this exciting new partnership, in which students will have the opportunity to hone their craft directly with members of the award- winning SFJAZZ Collective, the repertory group of the SFJAZZ Center. Comprising eight of the most legendary performers, composers, and teachers in the jazz world today, members of the Collective include alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, tenor saxophonist David Sánchez, trumpeter Sean Jones, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Obed Calvaire.
President David H. Stull of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music announced the landmark partnership at the Conservatory’s annual gala on March 21. The gala honored trustee William K. Bowes, Jr. and featured performances by pianist Jeremy Denk, the SFJAZZ Collective, and Conservatory students.
“The Roots, Jazz, and American Music program is ideal for the next generation of young musicians. The opportunity to engage a superb faculty while being fully immersed in the vibrancy of the SFJAZZ Center is unmatched in the world,” says Stull. “In addition to performing with the SFJAZZ Collective in a legendary space, students will be exposed to an exotic array of leading artists in the vanguard of new work, while pursuing a comprehensive curriculum that will provide them with an education for life. We are deeply honored to launch this program with the generous support of the Jay Pritzker Foundation, Richard Zitrin, James Hormel, and the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation.”
Randall Kline SFJAZZ Founder and Executive/Artistic Director, feels the collaboration is “one- of-a-kind, and meant to be." He says that he conceived the tremendous potential of a partnership two years ago and approached Stull, who immediately embraced the idea.
“The two institutions play vital roles in the artistic life of San Francisco, and are literally within sight of one another in the cultural hub of San Francisco's Hayes Valley,” says Kline. “The instrumental, compositional, and ensemble virtuosity of the Collective is a great match with the rigorous excellence of one of the country's preeminent conservatories. This will be a program unlike any other in the world, and we look forward to making this innovative initiative fulfill its immense potential."
Donald Derheim, Chief Executive Officer of SFJAZZ, has also worked closely with Kline and Stull as they embarked on bringing their collective vision to fruition. "The partnership between SFCM and SFJAZZ is further proof of jazz's popular resurgence,” says Derheim, “and helps fill the need for higher education in the American art form."
Distinguished jazz artist and educator Simon Rowe has been appointed by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as executive director of the Roots, Jazz, and American Music program. Lauded for his exceptional work in education and for having a prodigious understanding of jazz music, its history, and its development as an art form, Rowe also leads the acclaimed Simon Rowe Trio and has appeared with numerous jazz greats. Currently, he serves as executive director of the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific, where he established an accelerated jazz performance degree track; created Take 5, an innovative jazz club; and developed local, national, and international coalitions to forward the mission of the Institute. Rowe will take leave of his position at the Brubeck Institute before beginning his appointment at SFCM in August.
“Having a partnership with one of the premier jazz presenting organizations in the world that embraces an inclusive approach to contemporary improvised jazz music—from flamenco to Afro-Cuban music to Eastern European influences—is the perfect reflection of our own values in this new program,” says Rowe. “Our students will be exposed to an incredibly rich palette of possibilities.”
The SFJAZZ Collective—which includes multiple Grammy-award winners and nominees, and a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow—will join the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and engage with students in both ensemble and private lesson settings in the areas of performance and composition. Students will be immersed in the Afrocentric roots of the contemporary jazz world, and will explore the cultural heritages that have helped shape this
music over the last several hundred years. They will also have the coveted opportunity to perform side-by-side with the SFJAZZ Collective in both concerts and outreach events at SFJAZZ and throughout the Bay Area. Additionally, Roots, Jazz, and American Music majors will apprentice to the uniquely democratic structure of the Collective, in which the group collaborates equally on a range of administrative and artistic issues, from auditioning new members to programming.
A passionate advocate of jazz education and for the process of developing community around the arts, Rowe believes in equipping young musicians to one day assume leadership positions within their communities, not just in music, but wherever their paths take them. With a desire to “mold citizens, in addition to great performers,” Rowe will work in consort with SFJAZZ’s education department to explore ways for students to participate in outreach activities and initiatives. Currently, SFJAZZ presents programs in underserved schools and communities throughout the Bay Area. Rowe says that in contributing to these events, SFCM students will cultivate a deeper understanding of the emotional impact and strengths of the music they are creating.
Elements of the Roots, Jazz, and American Music program will be on display this June at the highly regarded Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony. The intensive, weeklong workshop will be presented in partnership with SFCM, SFJAZZ, and Sonoma State University, and will take place at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center. Members of the SFJAZZ Collective will be among the faculty at the festival, along with some of the most talented high-school jazz musicians from throughout the U.S. and countries such as the United Kingdom, Finland, and Australia, among others.
For information on the Roots, Jazz, and American Music program, visit www.sfcm.edu/rjam.
For a calendar of events and for information on the Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony, visit www.pacific.edu/Brubeck-Home/What-We-Do/Summer-Jazz-Colony.html.
Read the full press release here.