Jazz Composers Concert features new works by nine people with Pitt ties

The 2023 Pitt Jazz Composers Concert will feature new compositions by a number of musicians with Pitt ties — students, faculty, staff and alumni — played by Pittsburgh-area jazz artists.

The Composers Concert, first held in 2018, will be at 2 p.m. March 19 in the Bellefield Hall auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

This year’s program will include works by the following composers:

  • Juwon Adenuga, first-year Ph.D. student in jazz studies

  • Jason Belcher, Ph.D. candidate in music theory/composition

  • Samuel Boateng, Ph.D. candidate in jazz studies

  • Ralph Guzzi, director of the Pitt Jazz Ensemble

  • Aaron “A.J.” Johnson, interim director of the Pitt Jazz Studies Program

  • Joseph Langnese (1951, civil engineerin), Pitt alumnus

  • Mark Micchelli, Ph.D. candidate in jazz studies and composition/theory

  • Nicole Mitchell, former director of Pitt Jazz Studies, now professor of music, University of Virginia

  • Rick Nowlin, Pitt alumnus

A.J. Johnson developed the concert to give composers the unusual opportunity to hear their works performed by top professional jazz musicians.

“The idea came about when an advanced student in my jazz arranging class wrote an exciting piece that was beyond the capability of the student jazz orchestra,” Johnson said. “Very few composers will have a band of this quality standing by to play their new works. This concert, open to the entire Pitt community, is an opportunity for them to stretch out and not worry about the difficulty of the music they are writing.” 

Performing musicians will include Pitt music faculty members Yoko Suzuki, James Johnson III and Kenneth Powell, among others. The concert is co-sponsored by Pitt’s Department of Music, Office of Residence Life, and Office of the Chancellor.