Acclaimed jazz pianist Billy Childs to perform side by side with Interlochen Arts Academy students

Childs will host master classes, lead an all-school community meeting, and take the stage with the Academy’s ensembles as part of the institution’s three-year exploration of the music and art of the African Diaspora.

Billy Childs

Acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs will perform side by side with Interlochen Arts Academy’s Jazz Combo and Jazz Orchestra on Friday, April 8, 2022. The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. ET at Interlochen’s Dendrinos Chapel and Recital Hall. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at

The concert will include a variety of Childs’ compositions for jazz combo and jazz orchestra performed by Childs and the Arts Academy ensembles. The centerpiece of the program, “Do You Know My Name?” from Childs’ Grammy Award-winning album Acceptance, will feature as guest soloist Tanya George, a singer-songwriter in her fourth year at Interlochen Arts Academy from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

“This is a challenging collaboration for our students, both musically and conceptually,” said Joshua Lawrence, director of jazz studies at Interlochen. “Mr. Childs’ music is very advanced—his themes explore the bright moments and dark reaches of the human experience. He is a true master storyteller, and our students are excited to learn from and work with him on this project."

A pianist, composer, and ensemble leader, Billy Childs is widely regarded as one of the most diversely prolific artists working in music today. Childs has been nominated for 16 Grammy Awards and won five, including awards for Best Jazz Instrumental Album; Best Arrangement, Instrumental & Vocal; and Best Instrumental Composition. As a composer, Childs draws influences from a wide range of artists—including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Maurice Ravel, and Igor Stravinsky—and has completed commissions for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, American Brass Quintet, and violinist Rachel Barton Pine, among many others. His 2013 work “Enlightened Souls” was commissioned by Duke University to celebrate 50 years of African American students attending the school and was premiered by singer Dianne Reeves and the Ying Quartet. Other accolades include a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and a composer’s award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2015), among many others.

Childs’ residency at Interlochen is part of the Academy’s three-year interdisciplinary exploration of the music and art of the African diaspora. This unique curriculum encourages students to study the history, culture, and artistry of music and art of the African diaspora, illuminating how related traditions, techniques, and trailblazers contribute to arts and culture. During his visit, Childs will lead master classes for jazz students, meet with student groups, address the campus community, and perform with both students and the world-renowned Ying Quartet.

Additional guest artists scheduled to take part in Interlochen’s exploration of the African diaspora include American jazz pianist and R&B singer Patrice Rushen in the fall of 2022. Over the course of the three-year exploration, guest artists will work with students in all arts divisions, including dance, film & new media, theatre, creative writing, and visual arts. The curriculum will culminate in 2024 with the staged premiere of William Banfield’s Edmonia, an opera chronicling the life and career of African American and Native American sculptor Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907).

This activity is supported in part by an award from the MICHIGAN COUNCIL FOR ARTS AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS and the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS, and a grant from Arts Midwest.