Mid-term report from jazzman in Cluj
My Fulbright commitment to the Gheorghe Dima Academy of Music in Cluj-Napoca is more than half completed, but some more good things are on the way.
Members of my band will arrive from the UK and South Africa to play a concert with Romanian vocalist Teodora Enache at the Atheneum on May 5th as part of the Spring Jazz Festival, then we all go up to Cluj for a similar concert at the Teatrul Maghiara on May 7th, a 'jam session' later that night at the famous Diesel Club and, of course, a workshop for students at the Academy and the House of Student Culture late at night on the 6th. Organizing this relatively modest tour under ever-changing circumstances (e.g. the sudden closure of Cluj airport May 6th – 10th) was challenging. However, my wife and manager, Catherine with help from the US Consulate and American Cultural Center, who are celebrating a 100th anniversary of their relationship with Romania, made sure the show goes on. Mike Rossi (an ex Fulbright Specialist), Teodora Enache and I are happy to play at the Embassy at a special event on May 4th.
Meanwhile, I'm making a guest appearance on April 15th at the Cluj Community Foundation donor's gala and will be supported by four talented music students. I've also accepted an invitation to give a lecture-demonstration (Romantic Influence on Jazz Piano) as part of the 'Romantic Music Days' festival sponsored by the Polish Cultural Center and two local music high schools, Sigismund Toduta and Augustin Bena. It will be an opportunity to present jazz as another kind of 'serious' music with European as well as African and American roots and gently advocate for its inclusion in formal music education.
I am delighted with the group of students taking my classes at the Gheorghe Dima Academy and also with the support I enjoy from Prof. Adrian Pop, the Rector, and his administrative staff. Although a tertiary music school is by definition an elite institution, I'm still amazed at how well these students understand English. My teaching plan has been to establish a common basis for everybody in jazz harmony and then help them realize individual creative projects during the latter part of my stay. This way everyone gains a set of practical skills that can be assessed objectively.
We had a wonderful break during the first half of our stay in Cluj. The Fulbright Berlin Seminar (March 21 – 24) is an annual gathering of senior Fulbrighters teaching in Europe, German students about to go to America on Fulbright Scholarships and junior American Fulbright grantees teaching in Germany. A feature of the Berlin Seminar is a concert by Fulbright musicians. The majority of the performers are American students in Europe for advanced study at conservatories in Vienna, Helsinki, Cologne, Paris and so forth. I was also invited to perform and since I was the only jazz musician on the program, I did a short solo set. I was pleased to share this platform these young high-achievers. (see photo) and the concert was brilliantly conceived and organized by pianist and ex-Fulbrighter, Joe Nykiel, who is based in Karslrue.
Berlin itself is fascinating of course, but I must commend the extremely high-level panel discussions (leaders in business, politics, arts and science, journalism, government representatives) and how every detail from food to logistics was imaginatively micro-managed by the German-American Fulbright Commission. These were exciting and fulfilling days and my wife and I truly experienced the purpose and ideals of Senator Fulbright, interacting with a stellar group of German and American intellectuals with critical but visionary views on the history and future of trans-Atlantic cooperation. It is an honor to be part of this program.
My fulbright experience
Students at the advising center
- Anna's Odyssey - by Anna Claspy
- RomericanJourney - by Damaris Lois Bangean
- A Most Unexpected Year - by Melanie Shoffner
- Eric Fretz
- Polar Bear in the Balkans - by David Jimenez
- Romaniadventure - by Anna Sherod
- Romania plus Hannah equals a blog - by Hannah Wolf
- A Palette for Thought - by Elijah Ferbrache
- A Year in Romania - by Anne Murray
- Lauren Hermele
- Katelyn Arlene Browher