The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will bring nationally recognized jazz artists to the University of Mississippi, thanks to the establishment of the Jazz Series Fund by Marty and John Dunbar.
The Oxford couple donated $25,000 as an initial gift, in hopes of encouraging others to contribute to the fund in the future. Marty Dunbar is an Ole Miss alumna.
John Dunbar hopes that this gift, with the support of Friends of the Ford Center, will bring some of the nation’s best jazz musicians to perform in Oxford over the next year and offer master class sessions for music faculty and students from the university and local high schools.
“We want to support excellence in jazz in Oxford and Ole Miss,” he said. “We have enjoyed performances by the faculty and students of music at Ole Miss over the years, such as Michael Worthy and The Mississippians, and have met so many talented people there.
“We see this as a special educational opportunity and we hope the series will be enjoyed by our community in Oxford and Ole Miss, so we are pleased to partner with Julia Aubrey and the Ford Center for this series and hope it will gain traction and continue for years to come.”
Plans are already made to present three jazz groups next season, thanks to the Dunbars, said Aubrey, Ford Center director.
“Their support enhances the quality of life in Oxford with professional musical offerings that will provide both valuable education for our music students and fine entertainment for our community,” she said. “We are expanding our offerings next season and this new series brings exciting energy to our programming.”
Next year’s Jazz Series includes Cyrus Chestnut, Julian Bliss and the Birdland All-Stars, all of which are headliners at prestigious jazz venues and festivals around the world.
“This is a dream come true and I am truly grateful for the Dunbars’ vision and generosity,” said Michael Worthy, associate professor of music. “I will work hard to maximize the educational outreach opportunities that will come with the Jazz Series, and I am excited for Ole Miss students to have more opportunities to interact with world-class jazz musicians.”
To contribute to the Jazz Series Fund, contact Angela Barlow Brown at 662-915-3181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Christina Steube