Scholars Series presents "The Great Duke Ellington"
By Michelle Vancuyk
Photo by Michelle Vancuyk
Dr. Kurt Dietrich speaks about Duke Ellington on Sept. 19.
UW-Fox welcomed author, musician and professor of music Kurt Dietrich to Perry Hall Sept. 19 for the first in the campus’ fall scholar series.
Deitrich, also Chair in the performing arts at Ripon College, treated community members, students and faculty to recorded and live trombone music and a lecture on Duke Ellington’s life.
Duke Ellington is considered one of the greatest trombone players of jazz from the 1930s and an esteemed American composer.
In the hour-long program, Dietrich discussed Ellington’s prolific life and career.
The program opened with an introduction of Deitrich by Lynda Zimmerman, assistant professor of music.
Zimmerman met Deitrich for the first time before the event.
“I thought he was a really down-to-earth person. He has his doctorate and so when I was going to introduce him I said ‘do you want me to call you doctor’ and he didn’t want me to so that tells me something about the man,” she said.
Novices and jazz enthusiasts were part of the audience.
“I’m new to jazz, I don’t know a lot about it. I thought for one compact hour he probably was speaking to people who knew a lot about jazz, but he was also speaking to me,” Joyce Green, an audience member, said.
Zimmerman liked Deitrich’s connection with Green and other audience members.
“I think that’s so outstanding…he really kind of opened up her eyes to [jazz music]. She had taste and probably listened to it a little bit, but what she heard from him playing made her a better listener,” Zimmerman said.
Audience members were impressed by the depth of information and music performed.
“I loved all the stories he told about Ellington. He really painted an amazing picture about this jazz player in the 1930s…then he played some jazz [music] live,” sophomore Renee Greenlee said.
The UW-Fox Scholars Series brings a range of nationally recognized leaders and experts to campus and the community.
Zimmerman, a member of the Lecture and Fine Arts (LFA) Committee, invited musicians and artists to the series this fall.
“I think the nicest thing is that we were able to include two fine arts program. We were pleased and got some nice comments [from audience members about programs],” Zimmerman said.
“I was pleased to see so many community members here,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich has published two titles on Ellington, Duke’s Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists and Jazz Bones: The World of Jazz Trombone. He received the distinguished service award in 2007 from the International Association for Jazz Education’s Wisconsin chapter.
The association selects one recipient every year based on contributions made to jazz education in Wisconsin.
“It was, in fact, a really nice recognition to be chosen for the award. I suspect the award had more to do with writing two reasonably important books about jazz, presenting lots of jazz concerts at Ripon College and adjudicating for many years at jazz festivals around the state,” Deitrich said.
Dietrich conducts symphonic wind and jazz ensembles. He also teaches brass instruments and a variety of courses at Ripon College and is an active performer of classical and jazz music.
The next event invites James Brey, education director for the American Meteorology Society and professor emeritus of geography and geology, to discuss the science of climate change, climate variability and possible future impacts at noon in Perry Hall Oct 17.