The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in partnership with the U.S. Department of State presented a 10-day jazz education and performance tour of China. This tour marked the Institute’s first visit to China and introduced tens of thousands of young people and adults in China to jazz, America’s greatest musical contribution to the world.
Herbie Hancock and Dee Dee Bridgewater headlined the tour. They were accompanied by the six talented college students (Monk Fellows) who attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance graduate-level college program at Loyola University New Orleans. These students, who perform as the Thelonious Monk Institute Ensemble, receive full scholarships and regularly study and perform with the world’s most accomplished jazz musicians.
The group led a master class for Beijing’s aspiring young musicians at the National Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, May 10. They performed at the Forbidden City Concert Hall on Tuesday evening, May 11. Additionally, the musicians presented major concerts on May 13 and 14 at the Entertainment Hall of the Shanghai 2010 Expo. These concerts were a gift from the United States to the people of China and citizens from around the world that will attend the Expo.
Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock remarked, “The Institute’s tour of China represents our continued commitment to working with young musicians from all parts of the globe. Music has always served as a bridge between different cultures and no musical art form is more effective as a diplomatic tool than jazz.”
The China tour was the most recent in a series of international diplomatic, cultural and educational tours presented by the Institute and the U.S. Department of State since 1995. Past programs included a tour of seven African nations; India and Thailand; Chile, Argentina and Peru; Egypt; and Vietnam. The Institute has also partnered with the United Nations to perform at three annual “International Day of Philosophy” events presented by UNESCO. Most recently, in 2009 the Institute’s college students accompanied Martin Luther King, III, Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chaka Khan, Terri Lyne Carrington, George Duke, along with a Congressional Delegation lead by Congressman John Lewis and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young on a State Department tour of India commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s historic trip to India to study Gandhi’s nonviolence movement.