MIT Music recording released on major jazz label
“As one of the world's leading science and engineering schools, cutting-edge innovation is MIT's calling card, and this also applies to music.”
— Dr. Frederick Harris Jr., director, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble and MIT Wind Ensemble
For the first time ever, a collection of recordings by two MIT student groups — the MIT Wind Ensemble (MITWE) and the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (FJE) — have been released on a major jazz label. The Infinite Winds CD features works by noted composers Guillermo Klein, Chick Corea, and Don Byron, as well as performances by renowned soloists Bill McHenry (tenor saxophone) and Evan Ziporyn (clarinet).
“Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts two of the best student-driven ensembles in the country,” Sunnyside Records stated in announcing the CD’s April 14, 2015, release. “Infinite Winds presents a wonderfully broad range of musical styles from composers who have surpassed the limits of jazz and modern classical composing.”
Dedicated to the late great jazz trumpeter Herb Pomeroy, who taught at MIT for 22 years (and founded the FJE in 1963), Infinite Winds features world première recordings by both Corea — an iconic keyboardist, composer, and bandleader who has won 22 Grammy Awards — and Byron, a critically acclaimed clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer as well as the winner of the first Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.
MIT Wind Ensemble
Listen to tracks from Infinite Winds
“The Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts two of the best student-driven ensembles in the country.”
— Sunnyside Records
"Today, unprecedented numbers of incoming students arrive at MIT with deep experience in the arts, especially in music. In that context, the arts have never been more integral to the life of MIT nor more deserving of our focus and attention."
— Rafael Reif, President of MIT
Original compositions for MIT's student musicians
Corea’s piece, From Forever (Suite for Big Band Dedicated to Herb Pomeroy), was composed in honor of the 50th anniversary of MIT’s jazz program and premiered in April 2013. Soon afterward, the composition was performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Byron’s composition, Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble, is an eclectic piece inspired by the film and television scores of Leonard Rosenman. “This is the first music for clarinet I have written that was difficult on purpose," says Bryon. "It's a piece in the tradition of great 20th century clarinet writing — Nielsen, Stravinsky, Corigliano, Martino, Bartok."
The third piece on the CD, Solar Return Suite, is a work in seven movements previously recorded in 2006. It is Klein’s first and only composition for wind ensemble. “The musicians at MIT were very good-hearted, smart, and willing — a pleasure to work with,” Klein said.
All three compositions were written especially for the MIT ensembles to perform. Commenting on the Institute's student musicians, Peter Child, Head of MIT Music and Theater Arts, said, "At MIT, it is common to find students who are so musically talented they could thrive at conservatories, if that is what they chose to do."
MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
Listen to MIT Jazz online | In One Voice, MIT Spectrvm
“With this CD we have some of the brightest compositional minds on the planet creating unique compositions, performed by talented MIT students, along with world-class soloists; Infinite Winds is a great example of what can happen when all such forces combine to create innovative, lasting artistic work.”
— Dr. Frederick Harris Jr., director, MITFJW and MITWE
Innovation in the arts at MIT
“As one of the world's leading science and engineering schools, cutting-edge innovation is MIT's calling card, and this also applies to music,” said Dr. Frederick Harris Jr., MITWE founder and current director of both MIT ensembles. “With this CD we have some of the brightest compositional minds on the planet creating unique compositions, performed by talented MIT students, along with world-class soloists; Infinite Winds is a great example of what can happen when all such forces combine to create innovative, lasting artistic work.”
Infinite Winds is an MIT production in more ways than one — beginning with the contributors’ links to Pomeroy. Klein, a jazz pianist and bandleader as well as a critically acclaimed composer, is a former student of Pomeroy’s who has been collaborating with Harris since the 1990s. Corea credits Pomeroy with helping him early on in his jazz career. “Just as Chick has influenced many young musicians during his illustrious career, he was himself inspired by the founder of the MIT jazz program—Herb Pomeroy," Harris said.
In addition, Klein and Byron have both spent time as artists-in-residence at MIT; Byron also served for a year as an MIT MLK visiting professor. The clarinet soloist, Ziporyn, is MIT’s Kenan Sahin distinguished professor of music and faculty director of MIT's Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST). Notably, Ziporyn's performance impressed the composer. "Evan plays it with such flair," Byron said.
The second guest soloist, McHenry, is a frequent collaborator with Klein. “McHenry is among the best jazz saxophonists of his generation,” Harris said. “He walks the line on Guillermo's piece of having to play written material and improvise throughout the whole composition — and does it extremely well.”
A distinctive independent jazz and world music label, Sunnyside Records applauded the performance of MIT’s musicians, noting that the two ensembles highlight "all the nuances and dynamic vitality" of the works by Klein, Corea, and Byron.
Herb Pomeroy Memorial Concert
Copies of the Infinite Winds CD will be available for sale at the eighth annual Herb Pomeroy Memorial Concert, which takes place on Friday, April 24, 2015, at 8 pm in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. For more information, contact Clarise Snyder, firstname.lastname@example.org. Infinite Winds is also available at sunnysiderecords.com.
About Music at MIT | A Key to Success
"Many scientists and engineers have a deep affinity for music. I suspect it's because both science and engineering are rooted in trying to comprehend deep and hidden structures. The appeal of uncovering those hidden structures is part of what draws many who love science and engineering to music as well." — Alex Rigopulos '92, '94, co-founder of Harmonix Music Systems
Some 80 percent of students now arrive on campus with musical training. In a typical year, more than 2,000 students are enrolled in Music and Theater Arts courses, and many add a major, minor, or concentration in music to their STEM focus. For these students, MIT's combination of world-class science/engineering education and superb musical training is one key to their creativity, success, and well-being.
The MIT Music program welcomes all enrolled MIT students, regardless of major, who wish to take subjects in music history/culture, composition/theory, and performance in the areas of classical, jazz, popular, and world music. Students range from novices to the very advanced student musicians selected for the conservatory-level Emerson Scholars program.
Harris receives Hall of Fame Award from Conductors Association
MIT AMPS wins New England Emmy for Awakening
Documentary on music by Jamshied Sharifi ’83, commissioned by Fred Harris to honor the Arab Spring
Story prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Editorial and Design Director: Emily Hiestand
Senior Writer: Kathryn O'Neill
Photographs by Jon Sachs