Nicole Mitchell to Lead Jazz Program at University of Pittsburgh | Modern Society of USA

Nicole Mitchell to Lead Jazz Program at University of Pittsburgh

Nicole Mitchell to Lead Jazz Program at University of Pittsburgh

The flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell will lead the University of Pittsburgh’s storied jazz studies program, the school announced Monday, a move that quietly affirms the ascent of the improvising avant-garde in the jazz academy.

The position was vacant since the unexpected death in 2017 of Geri Allen, a groundbreaking pianist and esteemed educator. In succeeding Allen, Ms. Mitchell takes up the William S. Dietrich II Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies, a new position. She will be a tenured professor in the music department.

Though she is leaving a professorship at the University of California, Irvine, Ms. Mitchell received most of her training not through academia but amid the outsider-run creative economy of Chicago’s improvised music scene.

Ms. Mitchell’s work — particularly with her two-decade-old Black Earth Ensemble — often brings together instruments and musicians from across the globe to create a sound that’s as rooted as it is futuristic. In its simultaneous celebration of collectivity and compositional vision, it represents an extension of precepts espoused by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Ten years ago, Ms. Mitchell became the first female chair of that South Side-based collective, which has a 54-year history of activism, education and vanguard composing.

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