RIT Professor Brings American Jazz to Russia

Carl Atkins serves as instructor and performer at music symposium in Moscow

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A. Sue Weisler

Carl Atkins

Rochester resident Carl Atkins recently participated in a cultural exchange designed to enhance art and music education and the promotion of American jazz in Russia in December.

Atkins, who is a professor and director of the music program at Rochester Institute of Technology, served as an instructor and performer at the International Symposium for Wind Band, Symphony Orchestra and Jazz at the Moscow State University of Art and Culture.

The seven-day conference brought in leading musicians and scholars from the United States, Canada and Europe to discuss new advancements in music education and promote greater cultural understanding between Western and Russian musicians and music educators. It also included a series of musical performances and master classes for Moscow State students.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to further the development and internationalization of American jazz while also enhancing interaction between American and Russian artists,” notes Atkins. “But more importantly, it served as an opportunity for greater interaction and understanding between our two cultures, which can only help overall relations between our societies in the future.”

Atkins is an accomplished musician and scholar who has performed or recorded with Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross and Ray Charles. Prior to coming to RIT, he served as president of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, director of the Hochstein School of Music in Rochester, co-director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance and founding director of the jazz studies program at the New England Conservatory of Music.