Monday, May 07, 2012

Sheldon Concert Hall gets grant for Peter Martin commission; Jazz St. Louis announces gift supporting JazzU program

Two of St. Louis' non-for-profit jazz presenters recently got some good news involving money.

Jazz St. Louis today announced that they'll receive $30,000 from the Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation to support the JazzU education program in 2012-13.

JazzU offers free weekly jazz ensemble instruction to 55 middle- and high-school students from all over the St. Louis area. Teachers include both local musician/educators and touring performers taking part in JSL's educational residency program. Students are selected through an audition process, and are placed in ensembles based on their skill level.

The program's top ensemble, the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars, has performed at Jazz at the Bistro and at community events such as the St. Louis Art Fair. The All-Stars and other JazzU ensembles will open the Bistro's summer series on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2, with tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield as their special guest.

Meanwhile, the Sheldon Concert Hall today announced that they're getting an NEA Art Works Grant for $10,000 to commission pianist Peter Martin (pictured) to write a major composition for the Sheldon's 100th anniversary this year.

Martin's piece will feature a setting of the poem “This Present Past” by poet Howard Nemerov, and will get its debut performance at the Sheldon's anniversary celebration on Thursday, October 11. That event will feature a multi-genre lineup of musicians including Martin, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. as well as classical singer Christine Brewer, violinist David Halen and members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. The concert will be broadcast on local PBS affiliate The Nine Network and will be recorded for release on a CD to be distributed by The Sheldon.

The Sheldon is one of 788 not-for-profit national, regional, state and local organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant; the total funding for the program is $24.81 million. The NEA received 1,624 eligible applications under the Art Works category for this round of funding, requesting more than $78 million in funding. The grants are intended to "support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts."

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