Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard is one of the most prominent brass players, bandleaders, and recording artists of his generation. Blessed with a warm yet often fiery trumpet sound and an ear for deep harmonic sophistication, Blanchard is a standard-bearer for the searching post-bop style of his predecessors, including Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, and Booker Little. An impressive “Young Lion” in his early days with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, he developed over time into a mature bandleader and a highly regarded film composer.
Born on March 13, 1962 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Terence Oliver Blanchard was an only child to parents Wilhelmina and Joseph Oliver Blanchard. He began playing piano by the age of five, switched to trumpet three years later, and played alongside childhood friend and fellow New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis in summer band camps. While in high school, he took extracurricular classes at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts with Roger Dickerson and Ellis Marsalis. From 1980 to 1982, Blanchard studied under Paul Jeffrey and Bill Fielder at Rutgers University in New Jersey while touring with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra. In 1982 Blanchard replaced Wynton Marsalis (under his recommendation) in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, working in that band until 1986 as lead soloist and musical director. He then co-led a prominent quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison, recording a handful of albums for the Concord, Columbia, and Evidence record labels in five years, including 1983’s New York Second Line, 1984’s Discernment, and 1988’s Black Pearl.
In the ’90s, Blanchard became a leader in his own right, recording for the Columbia label and issuing albums like 1992’s Terence Blanchard and 1993’s Simply Stated. These albums found him balancing his love of the New Orleans jazz and bop traditions with his own increasingly distinctive and progressive compositional voice. Other albums, like 1994’s minor-tinged The Billie Holiday Songbook, 1996’s The Heart Speaks with singer/composer Ivan Lins, and 1999’s orchestral-leaning Jazz in Film, also showcased his broad stylistic palette.
Also during this period, he developed a fruitful working relationship with director Spike Lee. Having first played on the soundtracks to several of Lee’s films, including Mo’ Better Blues and Do the Right Thing, Blanchard then composed the music for many of Lee’s subsequent films, including Jungle Fever, Malcom X, Clockers, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, Inside Man, and the Hurricane Katrina documentary When the Levees Broke for HBO. With over 40 scores to his credit, Blanchard is one of the most sought-after jazz musicians to ever compose for film.
In the fall of 2000, Blanchard was named artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Keeping up with his love of live performance and touring, Blanchard also maintained a regular studio presence, delivering albums like 2000’s Wandering Moon, 2001’s Let’s Get Lost, and 2003’s Bounce. Produced by pianist Herbie Hancock, 2005’s Flow received two Grammy nominations. Also in 2005, Blanchard was part of pianist McCoy Tyner’s ensemble that won the Grammy in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category for Illuminations. The trumpeter also took home the Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for 2007’s A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina). By April of 2007, the Monk Institute announced its Commitment to New Orleans initiative, which included the relocation of the program to the campus of Loyola University in New Orleans, spearheaded by Blanchard.
Signing with Concord Jazz in 2009, he released Choices — recorded at the Ogden Museum of Art in Blanchard’s hometown — at the end of that summer. Two years later, he paid tribute to the innovative Afro-Cuban recordings of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo by teaming up with Latin jazz percussionist Poncho Sanchez for the studio album Chano y Dizzy! The following year, Blanchard returned to his film work by scoring the soundtrack to director George Lucas’ WWII action drama Red Tails. Also that year, music business legend Don Was brought the trumpeter back to Blue Note Records. Blanchard’s first offering for the label was 2013’s Magnetic, an album that showcased a new quintet and guest appearances by Ron Carter and labelmates Lionel Loueke and Ravi Coltrane.
In 2015, Blanchard followed up once again on Blue Note with the electric fusion and R&B-infused Breathless. Featuring backing from Blanchard’s band the E-Collective, the album also included contributions from vocalist PJ Morton. Returning to film work, he supplied the original score for director Taylor Hackford’s 2017 film Comedian. Joining Blanchard on the soundtrack were pianist Kenny Barron, tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, alto saxophonist Khari Allen Lee, bassist David Pulphus, and drummer Carl Allen. In 2018, Blanchard was named a USA Fellow, and composed the score to Spike Lee’s film BlacKkKlansman, which won him a Grammy Award. He also released the concert album Live with his E-Collective. Returning to film work, Blanchard scored the 2019 Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet.
Ruth A. Felt
Ruth A. Felt started San Francisco Performances in 1979 shortly after moving to the Bay Area from New York. In 1980, San Francisco Performances began with pianist André Watts appearing in the brand-new Davies Symphony Hall. The season offered seven concerts. Upon her retirement after thirty-six years, the 2015-16 season boasted 200 artists and programs.
Felt developed San Francisco Performances by building relationships with world-class artists who would return again and again. An esteemed arts presenter, she is responsible for the local recital debuts of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Gidon Kremer, pianists Evgeny Kissin, András Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, and Ivo Pogorelich, soprano Dawn Upshaw, and many more.
She established numerous musical residencies and set up a community education program, which covered the spectrum of ages and socio-economic groups in the Bay Area. Most notably among these programs are the Saturday morning and evening adult music performances with lectures and demonstrations in San Francisco and Berkeley. Conversations and performances in the low-income Mission District at the Community Music Center, presentations of music and dance in the poorest of public schools as well as at specialty music schools, and performances with African American community groups in Oakland which all introduced the Bay Area to music and dance of the highest quality.
Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.
The operas – “Einstein on the Beach”, “Satyagraha”, “Akhnaten”, and “The Voyage”, among many others – play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theater and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as “The Hours” and Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun,” while “Koyaanisqatsi,” his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since “Fantasia.” His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. Indeed, Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music – simultaneously.
He was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble – seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer.
The new musical style that Glass was evolving was eventually dubbed “minimalism.” Glass himself never liked the term and preferred to speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops.
There has been nothing “minimalist” about his output. In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than twenty five operas, large and small; twelve symphonies; three piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris’s documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma, and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo keyboard performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble.
Jake Heggie is the composer of the operas Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick, It’s A Wonderful Life, If I Were You, Great Scott, Three Decembers and Two Remain, among others. “Arguably the world’s most popular 21st-century opera and art song composer” (The Wall Street Journal), he has also composed nearly 300 songs, as well as chamber, choral and orchestral works. The operas – most created with librettists Gene Scheer or the late Terrence McNally – have been produced on five continents. Dead Man Walking received its 70th international production last year, making it one of the most performed operas of our time. The Metropolitan Opera will produce Dead Man Walking in April 2021 in a bold new production by director Ivo van Hove, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Joyce DiDonato, Etienne Dupuis, Susan Graham and Latonia Moore. Moby-Dick was telecast throughout the United States as part of Great Performances’ 40th Season and released on DVD. Great Scott was a 2019 Grammy Award nominee for Best New Classical Composition. Heggie was awarded the Eddie Medora King prize from the UT Austin Butler School of Music and the Champion Award from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. A Guggenheim Fellow, the composer has served as a mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative as well as Chicago Opera Theater and CU Boulder. He is a frequent guest artist at universities, conservatories and festivals throughout the USA, including SongFest at the Colburn in Los Angeles. Jake Heggie lives in San Francisco with his husband, Curt Branom. http://www.jakeheggie.com
Frederica von Stade
Recognized as one of the most beloved musical figures of our time, Frederica von Stade has enriched the world of classical music for three decades with her appearances in opera, concert, and recital. The mezzo-soprano is well known to audiences around the world through her numerous featured appearances on television including several PBS specials and “Live from Lincoln Center” telecasts. She has made over sixty recordings with every major label, including complete operas, aria albums, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums. Her recordings have garnered six Grammy nominations, two Grand Prix du Disc awards, the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Italy’s Premio della Critica Discografica, and “Best of the Year” citations by Stereo Review and Opera News. Miss von Stade was awarded France’s highest honor in the Arts when she was appointed as an officer of L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 1983 she was honored with an award given at The White House by President Reagan in recognition of her significant contribution to the arts.
Ms. von Stade was the featured performer at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and also sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Cultural Olympiad held in conjunction with the games. She currently resides in Alameda, California where she gives performances supporting the arts in local schools.