After four years, thirteen graduates, and an extensive community outreach program, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance is ending its collegiate program at Loyola University. Monk Institute Board of Trustees Chairman Thelonious Monk, Jr. said in an April 13 letter that the institute will end its current educational partnership with Loyola in May 2011.
“Recently, the Institute was approached by the Herb Alpert Foundation, a longtime Institute supporter, to consider becoming part of the Herb Alpert School of Music at the University of California, Los Angeles,” Thelonious Monk, Jr. said in the letter. “In September 2012, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance will open at UCLA. The current class of students will graduate from Loyola University New Orleans in just a few weeks, and the Institute will spend the next year preparing for the program at UCLA.”
While the educational program offered by the Monk Institute will end, Monk said the overall partnership will not.
“The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is firmly committed to providing its jazz education programs across New Orleans,” he said in the letter. “We are pleased that our office will remain on the Loyola campus and we will continue to collaborate with Loyola’s faculty and staff to offer our programs.”
“The big change is that they are going to move their student collegiate program back to Los Angeles,” Loyola University College of Music and Fine Arts Dean Donald Boomgaarden says. “So those students won’t be involved in our own courses here working towards degrees, but I’m pretty optimistic that we’re still going to have a pretty great connection with the Monk Institute.”
Boomgaarden says the Loyola music program will pick up right where it left off for the 2012 school year.
“We’ll still have the same program,” Boomgaarden says. “The Monk Institute came in and became a part of a preexisting program. We already have an extensive jazz program on a graduate level, so we’re not going to be losing any of the programs that we currently offer.”
Monk Institute spokeswoman Holly Wallace said a large chunk of the institute’s involvement in the music and culture of New Orleans has always occurred outside the classroom, and those activities are not scheduled to end.
“In the past four years, thousands of public school students have attended our Jazz in the Classroom programs and education tours,” Wallace says. “In partnership with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and the Contemporary Arts Center, we’ve presented free public concerts by jazz greats visiting the institute and we look forward to working together to build on these successes to present jazz artists who otherwise don’t tour through New Orleans.”
Despite the announced departure of the collegiate program, there has been no love lost between the institute and Loyola.
“I’m a huge fan of the Monk Institute,” Boomgaarden says. “I wish them well in that new environment in L.A. and look forward to continuing to work together here in New Orleans.”