Jazz Legend Wynton Marsalis Named Colgate University 2023 Commencement Speaker

Marsalis to receive honorary degree alongside Joe Castiglione ’68, IIya Kaminsky, Mary Ann Moran ’77 and Mark Siegel ’73.

An icon of the jazz world with more than 110 recordings to his name, Wynton Marsalis will provide remarks at Colgate University’s 2023 commencement on Sunday, May 21. (live webcast)

Marsalis presently serves as managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, director of the Jazz Studies Program at The Juilliard School, and president of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. Born in New Orleans, La., in 1961, he is the son of jazz pianist and music educator Ellis Marsalis Jr. Wynton Marsalis started playing trumpet at age 6 and grew up playing in everything from New Orleans traditional marching bands, to funk bands, concert bands, symphonic orchestras, and small jazz ensembles.

To date, Marsalis has performed 4,862 concerts in 856 cities and 65 countries around the globe. Over the past four decades, Marsalis has rekindled and animated widespread international interest in jazz through performances, educational activities, books, curricula, and relentless advocacy. He is the author of seven books, including two books for children.

Today, Marsalis continues the renaissance he sparked in the early 1980s, attracting new generations of young talent to jazz and illuminating the mythic meanings of jazz fundamentals. Marsalis has been called the “Pied Piper of Jazz” and the “Doctor of Swing.” Since his recording debut in 1982, he has released more than 110 jazz and classical recordings. Marsalis performs and composes across the entire spectrum of jazz and has written jazz-influenced chamber music and symphonic works for revered classical ensembles in the United States and abroad. His body of original work includes (but is not limited to) 600 songs and movements, 11 dance scores, 13 suites, four symphonies, two chamber pieces, two string quartets, a jazz oratorio, a fanfare, and concertos for violin and tuba.

Marsalis was appointed Messenger of Peace by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (2001), awarded the National Medal of Arts (2005), and earned the National Medal of Humanities (2016). Britain’s Royal Academy of Music has granted Marsalis honorary membership; in the fall of 2009, he received France’s highest distinction, the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

Wynton Marsalis’ core beliefs are based on jazz fundamentals: freedom and individual creativity (improvisation), collective action and good manners (swing), as well as acceptance, gratitude, and resilience (the blues).

Source: Colgate University

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