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Ellington Fellowship Turns 30

In 1972, French-horn player, bassist and then-new member of the Yale School of Music faculty Willie Ruff founded the Duke Ellington Fellowship. Over the last 30 years, the award has been bestowed upon over 50 jazz legends including Mary Lou Williams, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Ray Brown, Charles Mingus and even the Duke himself.

The Fellowship, maintained through ticket sales from Fellowship-produced concerts, along with private donations, uses its influence to bring musical awareness to school children in New Haven, Conn. According to Ruff, over 180,000 New Haven children have benefited from the program, and he “looks forward to another 30 years of expanding musical perspectives at Yale and New Haven, particularly among the children who could grow up to become the next generation of ‘professors’ in the ‘Conservatory Without Walls'”.

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