New England Conservatory Jazz Studies student Andrew Schiller and alumni Jeff Schneider and Christopher Zuar have been selected to receive 2014 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards. Schiller is a jazz bassist and composer working toward his Master of Music degree at NEC. Schneider is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from NEC in 2009; this is his third Young Jazz Composers Award. Zuar, a composer and arranger, also earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Composition from NEC in 2009.
Established by The ASCAP Foundation in 2002 to encourage gifted jazz composers under the age of 30, the program carries the name of the trumpeter and ASCAP member Herb Alpert in recognition of The Herb Alpert Foundation’s multi-year financial commitment to support this unique program. The recipients, who receive cash awards, range in age from 11 to 29, and are selected through a juried national competition. Winners will be honored during ASCAP’s Jazz Wall of Fame event on June 9th, 2014 at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City.
Commenting on the awards, Ken Schaphorst, Chair of the Jazz Studies Program at New England Conservatory notes: “I’m always thrilled when our students receive recognition and support from institutions such as ASCAP. And it’s doubly satisfying when those recognized are as deserving as these three hard-working and talented young composers.”
NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became President of the Conservatory in 1967, the Jazz Studies faculty has included six MacArthur “genius” grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters, and alumni that reads like a who’s who of jazz. Now in its 44th year, the program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers. As Mike West writes in JazzTimes: “NEC’s jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world; so says the roster of visionary artists that have comprised both its faculty and alumni.” The program currently has 114 students; 67 undergraduate and 47 graduate students from 12 countries.
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