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Music Institute holds Billy Strayhorn Songwriting Contest

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2012

Submission deadline: October 15, 2012  

In conjunction with its October 26–28 Billy Strayhorn Festival, the Music Institute of Chicago Jazz Studies Program is holding a Billy Strayhorn Songwriting Contest for high school students in Cook, Lake and DuPage Counties. The submission deadline is Monday, October 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Judging the submissions are Music Institute of Chicago President and CEO Mark George, Jazz Studies Director Audrey Morrison and Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc. President Alyce Claerbaut. The panel will award nearly $1,000 in Music Institute scholarships to first, second and third place winners, each of whom also will receive two free passes to all events during the Billy Strayhorn Festival.
The Billy Strayhorn Festival, which honors the work and legacy of one of the great jazz composers and collaborators, is presented in partnership with Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc., a family corporation of the Strayhorn heirs. The Festival includes two star-studded concerts featuring trumpet great Terell Stafford and a screening of the award-winning film Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life followed by a panel discussion. All events take place at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

Billy Strayhorn (1915–67) is acknowledged as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. As Duke Ellington’s primary collaborative partner for 28 years, Strayhorn created a compelling musical language that transcended Ellington. His innumerable contributions to the jazz canon built a formidable legacy for musicians from all genres. Strayhorn’s deep knowledge of both classical and popular music manifested itself in a unique approach to songwriting. Elements of his harmonic sophistication and voicing techniques have become emblematic of excellence in the jazz repertoire. In addition to his musical achievements, Strayhorn has become identified with the struggle for civil rights. Throughout his career, he overcame several stigmas, not the least of which was being an African-American artist in a society dominated by whites and a gay man in a culture that considered homosexuality a crime. In 1963, Strayhorn came to Chicago to serve as music director of  Ellington’s My People, a work composed on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and performed as part of “A Century of Negro Progress Exposition” at the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place. In tribute to Strayhorn and the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Music Institute is proud to present the Billy Strayhorn Songwriting Contest.

Music Institute of Chicago

The Music Institute of Chicago believes that music has the power to sustain and nourish the human spirit; therefore, our mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. As one of the three largest and most respected community music schools in the nation, the Music Institute offers musical excellence built on the strength of its distinguished faculty, commitment to quality, and breadth of programs and services. Founded in 1931 and one of the oldest community music schools in Illinois, the Music Institute is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Each year, the Music Institute’s world-class music teachers and arts therapists provide the highest quality arts education, reaching more than 10,000 students of all ability levels, from birth to 102 years of age, at campuses in Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Winnetka, and Downers Grove and through its longstanding partnership with the Chicago Public Schools. The Music Institute also offers lessons and programs at the Steinway of Chicago store in Northbrook and early childhood and community engagement programs throughout the Chicago area and the North Shore. The Music Institute offers lessons, classes, and programs through four distinct areas: Community School, The Academy, Creative Arts Therapy (Institute for Therapy through the Arts), and Nichols Concert Hall. 

The submission deadline for the Billy Strayhorn Songwriting Contest is Monday, October 15 at 11:59 p.m. For more information, contact Audrey Morrison, 847-905-1500 ext. 576 or billystrayhorn@musicinst.org; for information about or tickets for the Billy Strayhorn Festival, visit musicinst.org/jazz-festival.
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