The University of North Florida’s Music Flagship Program is officially a School of Music. The announcement was made in March at a special showcase concert featuring student, alumni and faculty musicians. Dr. Randy Tinnin, director of the school and professor of trumpet, believes the distinction will further elevate the already internationally recognized program, expanding both training and performance. “The designation of the Music Flagship Program as the UNF School of Music marks the culmination of years of work,” says Tinnin.
Music has been a part of UNF from the beginning. There were voice and piano offerings that quickly expanded when UNF faculty like Charlotte Mabrey and Lenard Bowie introduced new instrumental instruction. Jazz Studies came to UNF in the mid 1980s when renowned jazz musician Rich Matteson was hired to start the program. Within just a couple of years, well-known artists in the jazz world were teaching at UNF – Bill Prince, Bruce Silva and Bunky Green. And, it wasn’t long before the program garnered national attention.
Internationally acclaimed jazz artist Wynton Marsalis, who leads the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York City, commented on the talent coming from UNF’s music program: “To have that many great musicians come from one place is truly astounding … They are deeply soulful and committed to making the highest quality of music … It must be something in the water down there.” The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has hired several UNF music alumni students over the years, including Vincent Gardner and Marcus Printup.
Though a relatively young program compared to many established programs at much older universities, UNF attracts students from all over the world and has received some big accolades over the years. By investing in classical faculty, the music department has developed strong ensembles including the UNF Wind Symphony, UNF Orchestra, UNF Opera Ensemble and choral ensembles, which have performed all over the world including France, Italy, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Germany and South Africa.
Additionally, the UNF School of Music has been nationally recognized often, including top honors from the jazz magazine DownBeat in various categories from solo and ensemble performances to compositions and arrangements. UNF students also have been recognized at the Grammys. This year, two UNF graduates received nominations – and one a Grammy – for their work.
Photos by Kim Lindsey