I came to the University of the Pacific to teach jazz in the Conservatory of Music just a couple of years after the Brubeck Institute came into being, and I'm honored to serve as interim executive director as the Institute marks 15 years of existence.
In a time when budgets are small and global problems seem to loom large, it can seem a small thing to celebrate an art form and one of its luminaries. But I actually think that what Dave and Iola Brubeck achieved and what they represent-excellence, innovation, inclusion, and principle-are values that transcend the musical world and which are more important now than ever.
The Brubeck stories that many of us know so well-Dave leading the first integrated band in the Army, his refusal to replace black bassist Eugene Wright for a tour of colleges in the segregated South despite cancelled performances, Iola's work as a lyricist for pieces such as the civil rights-themed piece The Real Ambassadors-are still new to many people, and part of the mission of the Brubeck Institute is to keep the stories and the history alive.
The history lives most vividly through Dave's music, which continues to inspire audiences large and small and to evolve through the interpretations by new musicians such as the young students in the Brubeck Fellowship program.
Whether you know all of Dave's music or are just learning about Dave and about jazz, we encourage you to come out to a performance or a lecture and to be a part of the Brubeck Institute community. We look forward to another 15 years of celebrating jazz and teaching others about the music and values of the Brubecks!