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Artist in Residence Program Brings Jazz Legends to Campus

April 16, 2024

By Tina Raymond, Director of Jazz Studies

Helen Sung on stage with Tina Raymond and Jazz A Band
Helen Sung on stage with Professor Tina Raymond and members of Jazz A Band


CSUN Jazz has developed a robust semesterly Artist in Residence program in the last two years. Students enrolled in Jazz A and B ensembles prepare by rehearsing featured world-class artists’ original music for five weeks. The artist then joins students on campus for three days, rehearsing with the ensembles and instructing master classes on general jazz topics, all culminating in a featured performance with both bands. Every artist that has visited CSUN has left students inspired to continue to focus their efforts on their art form and with more insight on what it takes to be successful. Michael Mull, director of B Band, writes “To say the concerts with [artists in residence] were inspiring would be an understatement. Interfacing with these artists seems to raise the ceiling for the students; they find a deeper capacity for expression, and a greater intensity of focus in their musicianship.”

This spring, CSUN Jazz featured Guggenheim Fellow and pianist/composer Helen Sung. B Band performed several of her BMI-commissioned arrangements of compositions by Horace Silver, and A Band premiered Sung's newly composed piano concerto with big band titled Festival of Pianos. Ensemble rehearsals and master classes with Ms. Sung, whose teaching style exacts precision while still allowing space for the unknown, were open for all music students to observe. Of the experience, senior pianist Lana Dincic says, “Getting the chance to play with guest artist Helen Sung in big band is something I’ll never forget. I still think about the feedback she gave us in the rehearsals, master class, and concert while she was a guest. It felt so special to get to learn from an artist who has had such an impressive career.”

Regina Carter on stage with Michael Mull and members of Jazz B Band

In fall 2023, the Jazz area featured National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Regina Carter (violin). Her virtuosity, authenticity, and humility lifted the entire program for weeks afterward. First-year Jazz Studies graduate student and trombonist Kilan Thorns reminisces, “Working with Jazz Master Regina Carter was such a good time. I got to witness her amazing ability in person and for that I am grateful! Her way of playing helped shape my own melodies, especially after having the chance to perform on stage with her.”

CSUN Jazz is excited to continue the Artist in Residence program into the future. Concerts usually fall mid-semester, with Guest Artists announced at the beginning of the academic year. Follow CSUN Jazz on Instagram @csunjazz or visit the Department of Music website for the performance calendar.