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Billy Childs, the Ying Quartet, and Sara Gazarek to perform joint concert at Interlochen

The jazz pianist/composer and string quartet will also lead master classes, performances, and campus discussions as part of Interlochen Arts Academy’s three-year exploration of the music and art of the African diaspora.

Billy Childs and the Ying Quartet

Billy Childs and the Ying Quartet

Experience three musical icons in one concert as acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs takes the stage with the renowned Ying Quartet and singer Sara Gazarek. Leading classical flutist and jazz artist Nancy Stagnitta, instructor of flute and chamber music at Interlochen, will also join the group for two pieces. 

The performance will take place Wednesday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Corson Auditorium. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at

During their visit to Interlochen, Childs and the Ying Quartet will lead master classes for Arts Academy students and, along with composer William Banfield, address the campus community. The visit 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. The curriculum will culminate in 2024 with the staged premiere of Banfield’s Edmonia, an opera chronicling the life and career of African American and Native American sculptor Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907). 

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. Childs’ 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.
The Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet combines brilliantly communicative performances with a fearlessly imaginative view of chamber music. The string quartet first attained professional prominence in the early 1990s as the first recipients of the NEA Rural Residence Grant. Since then, the quartet has remained committed to performing in diverse venues, ranging from traditional concert settings and the White House to workplaces, schools, and juvenile prisons. Avid champions of new music, the ensemble has commissioned numerous new works from both established and emerging composers as part of their ongoing LifeMusic project. The ensemble is currently quartet-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, where they teach in the string department and lead a rigorous chamber music program.
Praised by the Winnipeg Free Press for her “impeccable” voice, vocalist Sara Gazarek “may well turn out to be the next important jazz singer” (Los Angeles Times). Since her debut at the age of 20, Gazarek has performed at prestigious venues around the globe; collaborated with jazz luminaries including Kurt Elling, Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, and Larry Goldings; and released five albums. Her most recent album, Thirsty Ghost (2019), was nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Vocal Jazz Album and Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals. Gazarek is currently on the jazz studies faculty at the University of Southern California.  

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.