Berklee Today

Berklee Beat:
Joe Lovano '72 Will Be First to Occupy Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance

Gary Burton (left) and Joe Lovano (center) each received commemorative chairs from President Lee Eliot Berk at a February event announcing Joe Lovano as recipient of the Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance. The endowed professorship was created by trustee J. Scott Benson.
Photo by Justin Allardyce Knight

At a February 9 reception, saxophonist Joe Lovano '72 was officially welcomed as the first artist who will occupy the newly established Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance. Through a generous gift to the college, Berklee Trustee J. Scott Benson created this endowed professorship that would honor Burton and provide funds to bring leading music industry figures to Berklee. Although this is the first chair established at Berklee, endowed professorships are a time-honored tradition at many colleges and universities.

In his remarks, President Lee Eliot Berk stated that it is most fitting that Berklee's first endowed chair be named for Burton. "Gary is one of our favorites as a musician, educator, and all-around human being," said Berk. "He has had a very complete career and great achievements in music and in music education. He has more than 50 recordings to his credit and has won five Grammy Awards and been nominated numerous other times. He has given a lot to Berklee over the years as a faculty member, dean of curriculum, and now as our executive vice president."

Taking the microphone, Burton recalled how he learned of Benson's plan to honor him. "I got this email from Scott last fall asking if I'd mind if he named a chair after me. It was one of the most understated questions I'd ever heard! I couldn't possibly thank him enough for his generosity to the school and for what this means to me. It will be here long after I am gone.

"A second honor for me is that the first recipient will be Joe Lovano," continued Burton. "He came here the year I started teaching and was one of my first students. You always notice and remember the talented students. I have seen Joe evolve over the years and become recognized as a major musician of his generation. As a new faculty member this September, Joe will be a terrific role model and mentor. We are greatly honored to have him taking a significant role in our community."

For his part, Lovano stated, "I remember when I first got here and started studying with teachers like Gary Burton, Joe Viola, and John LaPorta. It has been an amazing journey for me since that time. To come back now and share my experiences and explore new ways of playing with the students is really exciting. I'd like to thank Scott Benson for creating this opportunity with a chair in Gary's name."

Lovano intends to be a highly visible faculty member on campus during the fall 2001 and spring 2002 semesters and perhaps longer. He will be a full-time teacher with a schedule that reflects his desire to include as many students as possible in his projects. Lovano is slated to direct ensembles, give lecture classes, teach private students, and organize an annual concert and/or recording event showcasing music that he will prepare with students.