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January 21,2003

Fine Arts To Offer
Degree In Jazz Studies
By Allison Thompson

Beginning next fall, the School of Fine Arts will offer a bachelor's degree with an emphasis in jazz studies.

UConn's program will be highly selective and smaller than comparable programs at other area institutions of higher learning, says Earl MacDonald, the director of jazz studies.

Admission to the program will be by audition.

Image: Jazz ensemble students

Jazz ensemble students practice at the Music Building.

Photo by Peter Morenus

"This program should help us attract the finest young players in the region," MacDonald adds. "Offering this degree is an important step in our plan to make UConn the premier destination in New England for aspiring young jazz musicians."

UConn's jazz studies program will admit only about five students at a time. The students will enroll in small classes and will benefit from individual attention and close monitoring by the faculty.

"Because larger schools admit many jazz majors on each instrument, students have no guarantee that they'll perform in the top ensembles and be coached by top instructors," says MacDonald. "At UConn, our jazz majors will be given ample performance opportunities where they can hone their skills."

Some of the School of Fine Arts' music students are already highly accomplished. In 2002, the UConn Jazz Sextet took top honors at the prestigious Elmhurst Jazz Festival.

Last April, the UConn jazz groups recorded their debut CD, "UConn Jazz," which features compositions and arrangements by MacDonald and his students. The disc will be released early next year.