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A Grand Night for Swinging: Billy Taylor at TC


Bert Konowitz and Billy Taylor at the piano with vocalist Sarah Konowitz.

Bert Konowitz and Billy Taylor at the piano with vocalist Sarah Konowitz.


Toes were tapping and people of all ages hummed along as Billy Taylor, world-renowned teacher, composer and jazz pianist, played famous jazz songs with other musicians at Teachers College's Horace Mann Auditorium at "Dr. Billy Taylor: Teacher" on November 19th.

Beginning with a Master Class at 5:00pm, Taylor played with musicians from TC's resident improv ensemble SPIRIT, Syosset High School's Chamber Orchestra and the Children's Storefront Gospel Choir. In "On This Lean Mean Street," several young rappers from the Children's Storefront Chorus, directed by Rubin S. Thompson, delighted Taylor with their performance. Right after that, the auditorium was clapping along with the full choir as they sang "Let us Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord."

Taylor played "A Grand Night for Swinging" with SPIRIT under the direction of Bert Konowitz, Conductor and Artistic Director. Sarah Konowitz sang "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)."

Then TC President Arthur Levine awarded Taylor the TC Medal, which is the highest honor the College can give, aside from the title of Professor.

The concert closed with the song "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free," which included all the musicians. The audience sang and clapped along using the lyrics printed in the program.

The celebration began earlier that day with Lloyd A. Pinchback, Music Specialist at the Library of Congress, who spoke about The Library of Congress, the repository for Taylor's music. The Library of Congress Music Division has become a repository for American Jazz Collections in recent years, including archives of artists such as Charles Mingus and Ella Fitzgerald. The Billy Taylor Collection is the largest in volume and broadest in scope of the Music Division's jazz collections. It will be a rich resource for researchers in the Performing Arts Reading Room, where it will be available once it is processed.

"Dr. Billy Taylor: Teacher," was presented by The Music and Music Education Program at TC and The Office of the President - Diversity and Community. For more information about Billy Taylor, please visit

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