Jazz at Lincoln Center to celebrate 52nd birthday with $50 million expansion

Written by Stephanie Wong, CNN

Five hundred jazz musicians and fans filled the Spoleto Festival USA to hear four emerging young players perform their most original compositions and music before a cheering crowd.

Jazz at Lincoln Center debuted in August 1969 with the traditionalistic vocals of Nina Simone on opening night. That single performance set the standard for JALC , the largest music festival in the United States .

Now in its 52nd year, the festival will hit the city this summer with more than 300 performances at The David H. Koch Theater, the David Rubenstein Performance Hall, the Walter Reade Theater and the small Buttermilk Channel Theater.

Yoni Goodman, soprano, Gillian Beach, pianist, Jay Jenkins, trumpeter, Francesca Shabot, flutist, and Susan Edgerley, vocalist. All photos courtesy Jazz at Lincoln Center

JALC — named after Walter Reade — will feature a variety of genres and age ranges. The February 14 schedule features jazz, pop, rock, traditional, modern and gospel, as well as many of the legendary performers who’ve graced JALC’s stages over the years.

The festival will also feature a number of solo recitals and featuring up-and-coming artists.

JALC is also continuing to support artist in residence and artist residency programs, such as new work commissions, student residencies and travel grants for international artist residencies.

A three-time New York Times best-selling author, pianist and activist, Khalid Zahra will be a contributing artist during the festival. Zahra, a jazz and rhythm and blues pianist, was born in Lebanon and moved to the United States as a child. He formed and performs in the New York-based band “Superbum” alongside tenor saxophonist David “Gerry” Leonard.

A Chita Rivera Youth Leadership Award will also be given this year.

Chita Rivera is a legendary Broadway performer, known for her roles in “The Rink,” “West Side Story” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Rivera was the first Latina to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in ’62.

Chita Rivera, ‘West Side Story’

In a statement, Rivera said “JALC is a cause close to my heart because it has been a part of my experience since I came to New York.”

JALC’s mission is “to initiate, nurture and develop musical talent on Broadway, in the major cities of America and abroad, by giving New York a spectacular music festival,” the festival said in a statement.

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