Student Jazz Ensemble Wins Grant
Occidental College’s OxyJazz student ensemble has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts (PSHA) to educate local schoolchildren about jazz via demonstrations and talks by undergraduate musicians and the ensemble’s director, Timothy Emmons.
The award was presented on April 25 during PSHA’s 2006 gifts and grants reception, held at the Pasadena Showcase House of Design. This year, the organization awarded 36 gifts totaling more than $700,000 to nonprofit organizations and community schools for music programs.
The OxyJazz Educational Community Outreach Program will target nearly 2,000 pupils at Mt. Washington, Garvanza and Eagle Rock elementary schools, starting with two performances in May at Mt. Washington Elementary School and continuing next fall at all three schools. The OxyJazz ensemble will present demonstrations and talks on various jazz styles, and will offer one-on-one or small-group mentoring sessions on how to play jazz.
Ensemble members will showcase topics such as music improvisation techniques, different styles of jazz, world influences, and innovators, including Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. “Though jazz is uniquely American, jazz greats like Louis Armstrong are not part of today’s culture,” Emmons said. “For most of these students, their first connection to this cultural heritage will be participation in these jazz demonstrations and talks, and jazz lessons taught in mentoring sessions.”
PSHA has organized and presented the annual Pasadena Showcase House of Design since 1964. Today it is one of the largest home and garden tours in the United States, visited by about 40,000 people each year. Proceeds from the tours benefit PSHA youth music programs and its gifts and grants program.
Established in 1887, Occidental College is consistently ranked in the top tier of national liberal arts colleges and is second in the nation in student diversity, according to US News & World Report. This year, more than 5,000 applicants vied for 445 freshman slots. Occidental students can choose from 30 interdisciplinary majors and can take part in joint programs with Caltech, Columbia University, and Keck Graduate Institute. More than half of all Occidental students participate in community-based projects such as the OxyJazz Educational Outreach Program during their academic careers.