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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

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$4 million gift will strengthen jazz program

A $4 million gift from Anthony H.P. Lee, a member of the class of 1979, will enhance the study and performance of jazz at Princeton, significantly expanding the University's ability to support performances and develop innovative research and teaching in this uniquely American and broadly influential art form.

"This generous gift will play a transformative role in the future of jazz performance and scholarship at the University," said President Shirley M. Tilghman. "The new jazz program is an important and integral part of Princeton's vision for the arts across the curriculum."

The gift will support the Anthony H.P. Lee '79 Fund for the Study of Jazz, which will provide resources for undergraduate and graduate research, coursework, and visiting faculty in the Department of Music and the Center for African American Studies.

"Anthony Lee has made it possible for our jazz program to take a quantum leap forward," said Scott Burnham, professor of music and chair of the Department of Music. "His gift will expand the program in every conceivable direction: performance opportunities, master classes, professional residencies and high-level multidisciplinary courses."

The jazz program is led by Senior Lecturer Anthony D.J. Branker, a 1980 Princeton graduate who is a renowned musician and the well-known conductor of its award-winning jazz ensembles. Students are involved in the program in a variety of ways, studying the rich cultural legacy of jazz, playing in concerts, participating in master classes, pursuing independent projects, and benefiting from residencies and performances with internationally known jazz artists.

"Jazz is a musical tradition that has long been recognized by our global society for its historical significance, artistic innovation and far-reaching influence," said Branker. "Princeton is now poised to take an important step forward in the domain of jazz education. On behalf of all past and current students of jazz at Princeton, whose creative talent and spirit have inspired us throughout the years, I want to thank Anthony for helping to ensure our program's future. This is simply a dream come true for all of us."

Valerie Smith, the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and director of the Center for African American Studies, added, "Given the importance of jazz in African American, American and world culture, and the importance of African American culture and African American musicians in jazz culture, study of this musical art form should be a central part of Princeton's curriculum. Jazz scholarship presents one of the most exciting study opportunities for our students."

Lee, who studied mathematics as an undergraduate and now is a private investor based in Sydney, Australia, said, "Jazz has been my passion since I discovered it in my father's record collection at a young age. I am delighted to have this opportunity to support the development of Princeton's program. The future of this original American art form at Princeton is indeed very bright, under the leadership of Anthony Branker."

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