Brubeck Institute to be Discontinued
In a year filled with changes for University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music, the community was hit with yet another change when it was announced that, at the end of 2019, the University would not be renewing the agreement made with the Brubeck family to manage the Brubeck Institute. The Institute has existed within Pacific for 20 years, acting as a legacy for jazz legend and Pacific alumnus Dave Brubeck, and the agreement also included the housing of Brubeck’s collected works in Pacific’s library. Brubeck himself graduated from Pacific in 1942.
The program will become the Pacific Jazz Ambassadors program in the fall of 2019, as the new Brubeck Living Legacy organization will exist outside of the university. The Jazz Ambassadors will be focusing on broadening their reach not only in the Stockton community, but on an international front as well.
This announcement comes after a string of notable events within the Conservatory, namely a tour of New York by the Symphonic Wind Ensemble culminating in a performance at Carnegie Hall. The conservatory is currently at its largest enrollment on record, and Jazz Studies Program Director Patrick Langham is not worried about the future of his program. “For me, it presents a new opportunity, because the thing about the Brubeck Institute is that it has been a pillar of distinction for this institution,“ Langham explains, “With its ending, the University and the Conservatory’s support of jazz is unwavering.”
Despite the initial shock of the news, there exists optimism within Pacific’s jazz studies students, such as Ryan Clark ‘19, who said that, “There are some people that…really felt like Brubeck was a huge part of this Pacific community, so I get the whole idea of why there’s backlash in that area, but from another perspective, it definitely gives the jazz programs more opportunities.”
Langham elaborates on these opportunities, explaining that, “With the title [of Pacific Jazz Ambassadors], we get to add a component that we really didn’t have as a regular basis…meaning that we’ll have more of an international travel opportunity.”
The Conservatory of Music is currently at its largest enrollment on record, and while there may be some worry, there are still students with knowledge of the ending of the Brubeck Institute that are interested in jazz at Pacific. “We have students that are applying to Pacific who are, when I ask them ‘Where else are you auditioning,’ they say, ‘Manhattan School of Music, Julliard, Pacific’,” says Langham. “Of course, because Brubeck is such an iconic name…it sparks curiosity, but the actual activities of the Institute have always been Pacific. My job is to make sure that the Pacific Jazz Ambassadors become that exact same thing, that exact same notoriety.”
Langham is not the only individual backing jazz at Pacific, as Conservatory Dean Peter Witte is also bolstering the future Jazz Ambassadors as they head in this new direction. “Dean Witte is such a strong advocate that I feel like he is going to push the envelope with any ensemble and get them to where they need to be in terms of finance and marketability and anything that needs to happen, which is going to push things in a positive direction,” tells Clark.
The Pacific Jazz Ambassadors, as part of that new and positive direction, will be focusing on traveling and performing internationally. As Langham elaborates, “We already have had invitations to come to London, we’ve had an invitation to try and go back to Paraguay by the US Embassy, so the plan specifically is to do more of that on a much more regular basis. In addition to that, for the on campus portion, we will have more artists coming that have more of an international jazz perspective.”
While there is disappointment in the detachment of Brubeck’s physical legacy at Pacific, the music and the inspiration that he left still lingers within the Conservatory, and the jazz program at Pacific will still be charging forward under a new banner. “This opens up a whole new doorway that we had cracked open but we didn’t have fully open,” says Langham, “I’d be upset if we were sort of saying ‘Well, okay, that’s the end of jazz,’ but if anything the Conservatory and the institution is saying, ‘You know what? You’ve built something that’s pretty distinctive, so let’s continue that, but we’re going to do that under University of the Pacific.’”
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