When I graduated from college in 1942, little did I dream that some day an incredible program such as that offered by the Brubeck Institute would be established at my alma mater, University of the Pacific.
Back in the '40s, the thought of a jazz studies program at the Conservatory of Music was inconceivable. We weren't even allowed to play jazz in the practice rooms. Although I was enrolled in the Conservatory as a music major, I was also engaged in an unauthorized course of study, playing jazz piano in nightclubs and dance halls, gaining real life experience as a musician and performer. This was my internship and initiation into the world of music making. Now, such performance opportunities are created in the Fellowship program that allows talented students to focus on practice and performance while learning from professional musicians and visiting jazz masters.
The Institute is a realization of a dream. From the earliest days in my career I sought the acceptance and recognition of jazz as a serious art form that reflected American ideals of freedom and individual expression balanced with group responsibility and interdependence. Like America itself, jazz has always drawn from many cultures and has been enriched by that cross-fertilization.The Brubeck Institute is not about jazz studies alone, however. It is also about social and philosophical issues. Over the years I have become more and more interested in applying these thoughts to classical composition for chorus and orchestra, chamber ensembles, and contemporary music in a variety of forms. I believe in the power of music to transform lives as well as to enlighten and entertain.
Once when asked how I would like to be remembered, I answered, "As someone who opened doors." The purpose of the Brubeck Institute is to provide the key that opens doors for all who participate, whether as a research scholar in the Brubeck Archives, a Brubeck Fellow or Colonist, a member of academic symposia, a classical performer or teacher, contemporary composer, or an interested member of the audience. The door is open. Welcome!