Panel Talk: Duke Ellington’s 1972 UW–Madison Residency

April 13, 2022

Panel Talk: Duke Ellington’s 1972 UW–Madison Residency
Free and Open to the Public
Friday, April 15, 2022
Collins Recital Hall, Hamel Music Center, UW–Madison, 740 University Ave

We are pleased to shine a light on this event presented by the Mead Witter School of Music! Lecturer of Ethnomusicology Luci Mok will host Emeritus Professor of Music James Latimer and Jane Coyne to reminisce on the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Duke Ellington UW–Madison residency.

Fifty years ago this summer, in July 1972, UW–Madison’s School of Music hosted Duke Ellington and his orchestra for its Duke Ellington Festival, also billed as “Duke Ellington Week,” which included five days of concerts, workshops and masterclasses in what would be the longest university residency of Ellington’s career.

The impetus for the 1972 festival came from a conversation with the School of Music’s Percussion Professor, Jim Latimer, while Duke was on campus in 1971 to receive an honorary doctorate. Professor Latimer went on to organize and chair the festival, which turned out to be the most extensive and intensive campus residency of Duke’s storied career.

A list of names of the Ellington Festival Committee for the Duke Ellington Festival, UW-Madison, July 1972
Ellington Festival Committee, Jim Latimer, Chairman. From Duke Ellington Festival program, Mills Music Library

Highlights from the festival included a complete performance of Duke’s Second Sacred Concert that included an 81-member community choir drawn from 21 local churches, a “Family Day” concert at Camp Randall Stadium that drew an audience of over 6,000, and the premiere performance of Duke’s The Uwis Suite, composed especially for the occasion.

Jane Coyne was a voice student at UW–Madison who participated in Ellington’s workshops during the residency and sang in the Ellington Festival Chorus. Following the residency, she was invited to tour and perform with Ellington’s Orchestra throughout his last year of performances.

Ellington Festival Chorus names, including Jane Coyne, from Duke Ellington Festival program, UW-Madison July 1972
Ellington Festival Chorus names, including Jane Coyne, from Duke Ellington Festival program, Mills Music Library

We have been communicating with Luci Mok, Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Peter Dominguez, and John and Carolyn Peterson Chair in Jazz Studies, Director of Jazz Studies & Professor of Music Johannes Wallmann throughout this academic year regarding plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Duke Ellington Festival. We have shared various materials, including a scan of the festival program (see cover image and excerpts above) and recordings from the festival we have in our Ken Ohst Collection, a collection on 181 reels of jazz music and interviews from Ken Ohst, long-time jazz announcer and producer at WHA Radio.

We also shared the Oral History Program interview with Jim Latimer, which was conducted by Roxanne Reed in 1994. Special thanks to Troy Reeves, Head of the Oral History Program at University Archives, for making the recording available. Tom Caw, Music Public Services Librarian, met with Luci Mok’s Music 497: Jazz in America class this semester to teach the students how to conduct research into the residency making use of resources we have here physically and access to online for an assignment. Johannes Wallmann has a performance of The Uwis Suite planned for the Madison Jazz Festival in June, along with other forms of acknowledging and celebrating the anniversary. We’ll share more information about that as we get it!