October 25, 2023

Department of Music and Dance faculty members Jeffrey Holmes, director of the Jazz and African American Music Studies program and professor of piano and trumpet, and Ayano Kataoka, professor of percussion, have been named part of the 2023-24 Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series and recipients of the Chancellor's Medal.

Established in 1974, the annual Distinguished Faculty Lecture is dedicated to acknowledging the work of our most esteemed and accomplished faculty members. The lecture series not only honors individual faculty members and their achievements but also celebrates the values of academic excellence that we share as a community. Each honoree is presented with the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition bestowed upon faculty by the campus.


Jeffrey W. Holmes.

Jeffrey W. Holmes: The Art of Jazz Improvisation: Conversations in Spontaneous Composition
Wed., Nov. 15, 2023 at 4 p.m., Old Chapel

Professor Holmes will provide a historical overview of jazz improvisations that have defined the stylistic vocabulary through the 20th century and beyond. His lecture will include live demonstrations and recorded excerpts to provide context and analytical perspective. Accompanied by UMass colleagues Fumi Tomita (bass) and Tom Giampietro (drums), as well as vocalist Dawning Holmes, Professor Holmes will examine celebrated solos by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Clifford Brown (recorded with UMass Amherst’s own iconic drummer, Max Roach), Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and more. Holmes’s ensemble will also create an on-the-spot improvisational piece to further demonstrate concepts utilized in soloing and group interaction. A nationally published composer/arranger, Holmes directs the award-winning UMass Jazz Ensemble I and Studio Orchestra and is artistic director of the popular Jazz in July Summer Music Programs. 


Ayano Kataoka.

Ayano Kataoka: The Rhythm of Change
Thurs., Feb. 29, 2024 at 4 p.m., Old Chapel

In this three-part lecture, percussionist and marimbist Ayano Kataoka will dive into a personal and historical exploration of percussion music in Japan, with emphasis on the marimba, Japanese culture, and the influence of Keiko Abe. Listeners will then learn the role of the percussionist as actress, paying close attention to the intersection of theater, music, and visuality in performance. The discussion will conclude with a look at the evolution of percussion as an exemplar of world culture, with Professor Kataoka showing how innovations in the expression of timbre, rhythm, and physicality are pushing music in dynamic new directions. To illustrate the performance of music, each section will showcase the works of Keiko Abe, Stuart Saunders Smith, and Iannis Xenakis.

Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series website