Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

More than 20 years ago, the late Maria Fisher, a musical philanthropist and force behind the Beethoven Society of America, had an idea to perpetuate the spirit, legacy and philosophy of the legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Sphere Monk by creating the nonprofi t Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Her love and passion for jazz – America’s indigenous musical art form – was the catalyst for the Institute’s mission to identify the world’s most promising young musicians and to ensure that jazz was widely available to audiences around the world.
What began as a humble idea has grown into a world-class organization that has launched the careers of some of today’s most talented jazz artists, educated millions of young people around the world about jazz, and developed the next generation of jazz fans. Maria would be thrilled to see the progress the Institute has made over the past two decades, and I believe she would be most proud of the success and accomplishments of the annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, which serves as a benefi t for the Institute’s jazz education programs.
Traditionally held at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the competition has been a highly anticipated Washington event since 1987. Each year, the most talented young musicians from around the world compete in what has been a jazz version of the classical Van Cliburn Competition. The competition, which features a different instrument each year, has played a major role in shaping the future of jazz by introducing millions of people to some of the most innovative young performers and composers of ou day. Artists such as pianists Marcus Roberts and Jacky Terrasson, tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman and vocalist Jane Monheit, have captured the world’s attention after winning the competition and embarking on professional jazz careers.
This year will feature the trumpet – and will call Los Angeles home. for the fi rst time. Because of renovations at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater, the Institute will bring the worlds of music, television, fi lm, art, politics and business together at L.A.’s Kodak Theatre on Sunday, October 28, to welcome a new generation of jazz greats. As part of the weekend, the Institute and the Recording Academy (home of the Grammy Awards) will pay homage to Herbie Hancock – one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time and the Institute’s chairman – through an All-Star Tribute Concert. The concert will feature some of the most respected jazz and popular musicians in the world.
To kick off this historic weekend, music legend Quincy Jones will host a private dinner at his home on Saturday evening for all of the artists and the Institute’s special guests. We are especially excited that some of our loyal Washington supporters, including: Joseph Robert Jr., Paxton and Rachel Baker, Sen. Ted Stevens and Catherine Stevens, and Rep. John Dingell and Debbie Dingell, will be joining us in Los Angeles for this special and rare Institute occasion. Washington native William Powers and his wife, Carolyn, are serving as cochairs along with Abbott and Linda Brown of Los Angeles. Thanks to a wonderful partnership with Washington Life magazine, you will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse of the entire weekend in an upcoming issue.


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