Los Angeles, California and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Always at the forefront of world culture, technology, business and music, legendary pianist and composer Herbie Hancock has been named the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor Of Poetry at Harvard University. Hancock will give his six Norton Lectures, “The Ethics Of Jazz,” in February and March. The series follows Hancock’s receipt of a Kennedy Center Honor in December.
“The Ethics Of Jazz” will examine topics including “The Wisdom Of Miles Davis,” “Breaking The Rules,” “Cultural Diplomacy And The Voice Of Freedom,” and “Innovation And New Technologies.” Hancock will draw upon his five decades of experiences as a musician, composer, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, tireless innovator and father.
“It is a great privilege to welcome Herbie Hancock as the Norton Professor,” said Homi Bhabha, Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. “His unsurpassed contribution to the history of music has revolutionized our understanding of the ways in which the arts transform our civic consciousness and our spiritual aspirations. It would be no exaggeration to say that he has defined cultural innovation in each decade of the last half century.” The Mahindra Center is hosting the Norton Lectures.
Herbie Hancock has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet that pioneered a groundbreaking sound in jazz, he also developed new approaches on his own recordings, followed by his work in the 70s - with record-breaking albums such as Headhunters" - that combined electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music. Rockit" and Future Shock" marked Hancock's foray into electronic dance sounds; during the same period he also continued to work in an acoustic setting with V.S.O.P., which included ex-Miles Davis bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams.
Hancock received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and 14 Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year for River: The Joni Letters," and two 2011 Grammy Awards for the recently released globally collaborative CD, The Imagine Project." Many of his compositions, including Canteloupe Island," Maiden Voyage," Watermelon Man" and Chameleon," are modern standards..
Hancock currently serves as Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and as Institute Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He is a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP), and was recently given the “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres” by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon. In 2011 Hancock was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
Established in 1925, the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship of Poetry has been awarded to important figures from across the arts. Past Norton Professors have included T.S. Eliot, Igor Stravinsky, Jorge Luis Borges, Charles Eames, Leonard Bernstein, John Cage, Nadine Gordimer, Orhan Pamuk, and William Kentridge.
The 2014 Norton Lectures will take place at Sanders Theatre at Harvard University on Monday, February 3, Wednesday, February 12, Thursday, February 27, Monday, March 10, Monday, March 24 and Monday, March 31. Lectures begin at 4 p.m. and are open to the public.
For Herbie Hancock, please contact Alisse Kingsley at Muse Media, 323-467-8508; e: AlissetheMuse@aol.com. For additional information on the lectures, please visit http://mahindrahumanities.fas.harvard.edu/content/norton-lectures.