Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice Announces Grant Recipients

The institute’s Score Compilation Grant will allow 10 women to create digital collections of their scores in the Berklee Library. 

April 5, 2021

The Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice has announced that 10 women have been awarded the Score Compilation Grant, which allows recipients to create digital collections of their scores in the Berklee Library. The inaugural artists to receive the grant are Melissa Aldana, Courtney Bryan, Marilyn Crispell, Ingrid Laubrock, Nicole Mitchell, Tineke Postma, Michele Rosewoman, Shamie Royston, Angelica Sanchez, and Helen Sung. 

“As we attempt to contribute to a long-lasting cultural shift towards gender equity in jazz, we are proud to have established this unique grant opportunity for women composers,” said Kris Davis, associate program director of creative development for the institute. “We believe that encouraging and supporting women composers in the dissemination of their original music and scores is an important step towards gender equity in the field. This work is sure to benefit the Berklee community and future generations for years to come.”

Compositions by the grant recipients are available for Berklee students, faculty, and staff in the college's digital library. All scores can be found in the institute's women composers collection and are searchable under the following artists’ names: 

Melissa Aldana

Photo of Melissa Aldana

Melissa Aldana '09

Image courtesy of Melissa Aldana

Born in Santiago, Chile, Melissa Aldana ’09 began playing the saxophone when she was 6 years old under the tutelage of her father, Marcos Aldana, a professional saxophonist. She began with alto, influenced by artists such as Charlie Parker and Don Byas; however, upon hearing the music of Sonny Rollins, she switched to tenor saxophone, using a Selmer Mark VI that belonged to her grandfather. Aldana began performing at Santiago jazz clubs in her early teens and was invited by pianist Danilo Pérez to perform at the Panama Jazz Festival in 2005. Aldana attended Berklee, where she learned from and worked with Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington, Hal Crook, Bill Pierce, and Ralph Peterson, among others. Following her graduation, Aldana moved to New York City to study under George Coleman. She recorded her first album, Free Fall, in 2010, which she performed at the Blue Note Jazz Club and Monterey Jazz Festival. Her second album, Second Cycle, was released in 2012. In 2013, Aldana was the first female musician and first South American to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, leading to a $25,000 prize and recording contract with Concord Jazz. On her latest album, Visions, Aldana connects her work to the legacy of Latina artists who have come before her. In 2019, Aldana received her first Grammy nomination, in the Best Improvised Jazz Solo category, for her song “Elsewhere.”


Courtney Bryan

Photo of Courtney Bryan

Courtney Bryan

Image by Alex Smith

Courtney Bryan, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests,” according to the New York Times. Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, Bryan's compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation. Bryan has a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory, a master’s degree from Rutgers University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Columbia University. She has also completed an appointment as postdoctoral research associate in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Bryan is currently an assistant professor of music in the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University, and the Mary Carr Patton Composer-in-Residence with the Jacksonville Symphony. She was the 2018 music recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a 2019 Bard College Freehand Fellow, the 2019–2020 recipient of the Samuel Barber Rome Prize in Music Composition, and a 2020 United States Artists fellow. Bryan’s work has been presented in a wide range of venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Miller Theatre, and others. She has two recordings, Quest for Freedom (2007) and This Little Light of Mine (2010), with a forthcoming recording in progress, Sounds of Freedom. Bryan is currently writing an opera, Awakening, which will premiere in 2021. She has presented music workshops at various academic settings including Princeton University, University of Chicago, the California Institute of the Arts, Brown University, and University of California, San Diego. 


Marilyn Crispell 

Photo of Marilyn Crispell

Marilyn Crispell

Image by Andrew Pothecary

Marilyn Crispell has been a composer and performer of contemporary improvised music since 1978. For 10 years, she was a member of the Anthony Braxton Quartet and the Reggie Workman Ensemble. Crispell has performed and recorded extensively as a soloist and in collaboration with major artists on the American and international jazz scenes, such as Gary Peacock, Sebastian Gramss, Erwin Ditzner, Cecil Taylor, Mark Dresser, and many others. Crispell has worked with dancers, poets, filmmakers and visual artists, and participated in teaching workshops on improvisation. She has been the recipient of three New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship grants, a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust composition commission. 


Ingrid Laubrock

Photo of Ingrid Laubrock

Ingrid Laubrock

Image by Frank Schindelbeck

Ingrid Laubrock is an experimental saxophonist and composer who is interested in exploring the borders between musical realms and creating multilayered, dense, and evocative sound worlds. A prolific composer, Laubrock was named “one of the most distinctive rising compositional voices” by Point of Departure, and a “fully committed saxophonist and visionary” by The New Yorker. Laubrock currently serves as bandleader of Anti-House, Serpentines, and the Ingrid Laubrock Sextet. She has performed with Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Jason Moran, Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, Mary Halvorson, Tom Rainey, and many others. Laubrock has composed for ensembles ranging from duo to chamber orchestra. Her accolades include the 2009 SWR (Südwestrundfunk) Radio Jazz Prize, the 2014 German Record Critics’ Award, DownBeat Critics Poll awards in the categories of Rising Star–Soprano Saxophone (2015) and Rising Star–Tenor Saxophone (2018), and Herb Alpert/Ragdale Prize in Composition in 2019.


Nicole Mitchell

Photo of Nicole Mitchell

Nicole Mitchell

Image by Kristi Sutton Elias

Nicole Mitchell is a creative flutist, composer, bandleader, and educator who developed her music in Chicago's resilient arts community. A United States Artist fellow in 2020, Doris Duke Artist Award recipient in 2012, and Herb Alpert Award in the Arts recipient in 2011, Mitchell is the founder of Black Earth Ensemble and is the former president of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. As a composer, she has been commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Newport Jazz Festival, the Art Institute of Chicago, the French American Jazz Exchange, Chamber Music America, the Chicago Jazz Festival, International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Chicago Sinfonietta. She is a professor and the William S. Dietrich II Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. 


Tineke Postma

Photo of Tineke Postma

Tineke Postma

Image by Merlijn Doomernik

Tineke Postma is a saxophonist, composer, and winner in the 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll's Rising Star–Soprano Saxophone category. She has released seven albums as a leader to great critical acclaim. Her latest album, Freya, was released in March of 2020. Postma has collaborated on Grammy-winning albums by Terri Lyne Carrington and Dianne Reeves, and has performed with Kenny Barron, Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding, and Geri Allen. Postma studied at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and the Manhattan School of Music. She teaches at the Codarts University for the Arts in Rotterdam and the Conservatory of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. 


Michele Rosewoman

Photo of Michele Rosewoman

Michele Rosewoman

Image courtesy of Michele Rosewoman

For four decades, pianist, composer, and educator Michele Rosewoman has expanded the horizons of jazz while remaining firmly rooted in tradition. With recordings as a leader on a host of major record labels and her own Advance Dance Disques label, her longstanding Quintessence ensemble has consistently brought together cutting-edge voices, while her New Yor-Uba ensemble presents an uncompromising synthesis of contemporary jazz and traditional Cuban folkloric music, uniting master musicians from both worlds. A fearless bandleader and mentor, many have cited their work with Rosewoman as making an indelible mark on their personal artistic development. Her innovative recordings and projects have received great critical acclaim, including a Latin Grammy Award and prestigious grants for composition and performance from the National Endowment for the Arts; American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; and Chamber Music Awards. She has performed with many jazz and Latin music luminaries, and has presented her various ensembles at festivals, concert halls, clubs and universities throughout the world. Rosewoman is currently a board member at Chamber Music America, and remains an active and dedicated educator.


Shamie Royston

Photo of Shamie Royston

Shamie Royston

Image courtesy of Shamie Royston

Born in Denver, Colorado, Shamie Royston is, according to the New York Times, “a rhythmic vanguardist…who channels Kenny Kirkland, Geri Allen, Ahmad Jamal, and McCoy Tyner.” Her exquisite style of piano playing is a combination of traditional and contemporary sounds, which embodies a deep-rooted and soulful spirit. Royston has been commissioned to compose and arrange works for Sean Jones, Tia Fuller, Dianne Reeves, and other prominent musicians. A master music educator, Royston held a full-time professorship in the Jazz Composition Department, where she codirected ensembles with Terence Blanchard and taught composition and arranging classes. She is on the summer staff with Carnegie Hall's New York Orchestra led by Sean Jones, and is a staff member with the New Jersey Youth Symphony as a jazz director. Royston has conducted clinics for top ensembles throughout the United States and in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Germany, Italy, and more. Her most recent album, Beautiful Liar, released in June 2018, has received acclaim from DownBeat, Jazziz, and NPR. Her debut album, Portraits, received similar acclaim upon its release in 2014. Royston will always be considered a leading force in music, on the precipice of innovation while remaining a preeminent voice in the jazz world.


Angelica Sanchez

Photo of Angelica Sanchez

Angelica Sanchez

Image courtesy of Angelica Sanchez

Pianist, composer, and educator Angelica Sanchez’s music has been recognized in national and international publications including Jazz Times, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and various others. Since moving to New York from Arizona in 1994, Sanchez has collaborated with such notable artists as Wadada Leo Smith, Paul Motian, Richard Davis, Jamaladeen Tacuma, Nicole Mitchell, Rob Mazurek, Tim Berne, Mario Pavone, and Ben Monder, to name a few. She was the 2008 recipient of a French-American Jazz Exchange Grant and presented a 2011 artist residency at the Pocantico Center (via the Rockefeller Brothers Fund). Sanchez’s debut solo album, A Little House, was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and her recording “Wires & Moss,” featuring her quintet, was chosen as one of best releases of 2012 in The New York City Jazz Record. Sanchez is currently a lecturer at Princeton University and the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at the New School. She has a master’s degree in jazz arranging from William Paterson University.


Helen Sung

Photo of Helen Sung

Helen Sung

Image by Joseph Boggess Photography

Pianist and composer Helen Sung has spent most of her life in two distinct worlds. A classical student from a young age who transitioned to jazz in her early 20s, she understands the limitless range and potential of the piano. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, Sung embodies two diverse cultures and has discovered a musical voice and identity that are true to both, and more importantly, true to herself. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Sung studied classical piano and violin; she went on to graduate from New England Conservatory and win the Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Jazz Pianist Competition. Now based in New York City, she has worked with such luminaries as the late Clark Terry, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Regina Carter, and multiple Grammy winners, including Terri Lyne Carrington and Cecile McLorin Salvant. In 2017, the University of Texas at Austin's College of Fine Arts awarded Sung its most prestigious honor, the E. William Doty Distinguished Alumna Award, and Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts inducted Sung into its Jazz Hall of Fame. She has served on the jazz faculties at Berklee College of Music, the Juilliard School, and Columbia University. In 2019, Sung served as the inaugural jazz artist-in-residence at Columbia’s prestigious Zuckerman Institute. She was named a Steinway Artist in 2020.

Related Categories