New England Conservatory of Music press release - July 11, 2001

New England Conservatory announces appointment of legendary soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and accomplished jazz composer Ken Schaphorst

Boston, MA -- New England Conservatory is pleased to announce the appointment of legendary soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and accomplished jazz composer Ken Schaphorst to the Jazz Studies and Improvisation Department. Schaphorst succeeds Allan Chase as chair of the department. Chase has been promoted to Dean of Faculty at NEC. Schaphorst's appointment is effective August 2001 and Lacy's September 2002.

Steve Lacy has one of the most recognizable sounds in jazz. His playing Has been celebrated by perennial awards from Down Beat magazine as the top soprano saxophonist, as well as by the across-the-board respect and admiration of fans and fellow musicians alike. Dating back to Lacy's early, life-altering association with the father of jazz innovation, Thelonious Monk, as well as his his tenures with cutting-edge artists Gil Evans and NEC alumnus Cecil Taylor, Lacy has remained committed to keeping his music new. This dedication accounts for one of the most productive careers in modern jazz--both in volume and unrelenting quality of his work. Lacy's ability To capture an audience's imagination attests to the depth of his creativity.

Lacy's title as the foremost interpreter of Monk's music is just one of his considerable achievements, often mentioned in tandem with his other connection to jazz immortalityóthe fact that he inspired John Coltrane to try out the soprano saxophone during a 1960 "battle of the bands" between Monk's and Coltrane's groups in New York City.

The intensity of Lacy's quest to conjure the best sound possible from the soprano saxophone is matched only by his curiosity in combining his talents with those of other artists, who belong to fields extending far beyond the realm of jazz. He has set his music to works by authors/playwrights Herman Melville, Samuel Beckett, and William Burroughs and poets/philosophers Robert Creeley, Anne Waldman, Mary Frazee and, most recently, Bengali poet Taslima Nasrin, whose texts inspired Lacy's "The Cry."

A 1992 MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipient, Lacy joins fellow recipients George Russell (who received the honor in 1989) and Ran Blake (who received the honor in 1988) on New England Conservatory's internationally acclaimed jazz faculty. New England Conservatory's Jazz Studies programóthe first such program at a major classical conservatory was founded in 1969 by then-President Gunther Schuller. Lacy, who has lived in Europe since the mid-60's looks forward to returning to the United States and to teaching at New England Conservatory. "New England Conservatory is the one place I have seen that has all the attributes for teaching and learning music that I could wish for," said Lacy. "It is both venerable and high minded, but also tolerant and progressive, with excellent facilities, and the level of both students and instructors is such that I am looking forward to a long and satisfying affiliation there."

Allan Chase, Dean of Faculty at NEC said, "Our students are tremendously fortunate that Steve Lacy will be joining our faculty next year. He exemplifies what NEC is all about: he's a truly original, uncompromising artist who is also versatile and endlessly curious, and he's a talented and dedicated teacher, as we learned again in his wonderful residency here last year."

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Ken Schaphorst is active as a composer, performer, and educator, and has directed the jazz studies program at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin since1991. He received his Master of Music in Composition from New England Conservatory in 1984 and has since received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from Boston University. His composition teachers have included Thomas Oboe Lee, Gerald Levinson, William Thomas McKinley, And Bernard Rands.

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ABOUT NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY

Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory, the only music school in America to be designated a National Historic Landmark, was founded in 1867. New England Conservatory presents more than 600 free concerts each year in NEC's Jordan Hall and throughout New England. The college program instructs more than 750 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world, and has a faculty of 225 artist-teachers and scholars.

Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs for pre-college students, adults, and elders, NEC offers a complete music curriculum. Educated as complete musicians, NEC alumni fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, and recording studios worldwide. Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC faculty and alumni.

NEC founded and is the educational partner and broadcast home for "From the Top," a weekly radio program that showcases outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country, now carried by more than two hundred stations throughout the United States.

Kate Searle Media Relations Manager (ksearle@newenglandconservatory.edu) complete article