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Department of Music to examine the music of Charles Mingus on April 4

On April 4, 2014, the Department of Music at the College of New Jersey will present “Charles Mingus’ Epitaph,” a series of events examining the life and music of Charles Mingus. Events include a lecture by author and critic Gene Santoro of The NY Times and Rolling Stone, a panel discussion featuring Santoro, Lewis Porter, Professor of Music at Rutgers University, and Michael Conklin, Adjunct Instructor of Music (Historical and Cultural Studies in Music) at TCNJ. That evening, TCNJ Jazz Ensemble will perform selections from Epitaph and other Mingus works, led by Dr. Gary Fienberg, Assistant Professor of Music at TCNJ, and featuring Lewis Porter on piano.

The afternoon lecture and evening panel discussion will both take place in Mayo Concert Hall in the Music Building and are free and open to the public. The evening performance is ticketed, and more information can be found at or call 609-771-2065.

Basic Information

Brown Bag Lecture in Mayo Concert Hall at 11:30AM
Gene Santoro: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus

Panel Discussion in Mayo Concert Hall from 5:30-7:00PM
Charles Mingus’ Epitaph, with Gene Santoro, Lewis Porter, Michael Conklin, moderated by Gary Fienberg

TCNJ Jazz Ensemble in Kendall Hall Main Stage at 8:00PM
Performance featuring selections form Charles Mingus’ Epitaph, and other works of Mingus with guest artists Lewis Porter, Piano

Charles Mingus is one of the top iconic figures in the history of jazz music. Born in Los Angeles in 1922, his early notoriety came from his unique gifts as a bassist. By 1960, he was widely recognized as one of the leading figures in jazz as a composer, performer, and leader. While his life was cut short at the age of 57, a victim of ALS, his legacy continues to have a large presence in jazz music and jazz history. In 1962, Mingus assembled an orchestra of 31 of the most celebrated jazz musicians in New York’s Town Hall, and presented his full-length composition “Epitaph,” a piece that he intended as his magnum opus. A work unparalleled in the jazz idiom for its depth and complexity, the composition and its ill-fated first performance has been the focus of considerable scholarly interest. With only a flawed recording of the event, and with large portions of the score and parts scattered and lost, a number of noted musicians and scholars assembled in 1989 to re-construct and perform the piece, giving it the quality performance it deserved and thereby ensuring its continued legacy. This presentation “Charles Mingus’ Epitaph” provides a further opportunity to study and celebrate the work of a singularly important artist, bringing together student, scholarly and musical perspectives in a lecture, discussion, and a rare and thrilling performance.

Gene Santoro has authored several books, including Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus. He has been a columnist for the Nation and the New York Daily News. His writing on subjects from pop culture to military and American history has been appeared in numerous essay collections and publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, the New Yorker, New York, the Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Discover, the Village Voice, Chamber Music, and World War II.

A leading jazz scholar and jazz pianist, Lewis Porter has dedicated his career to raising the standards of jazz scholarship, and to mentoring young scholars worldwide. He is an author or co-author of six books numerous articles on jazz music, an assisting author of the definitive Coltrane discography, and a consultant to record producers, publishers, and producers of jazz radio shows and films. He was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 for his role in producing the boxed set of Coltrane’s Atlantic Recordings. He is Professor of Music at Rutgers University in Newark, where he is the founding director of the Master’s Program in Jazz History and Research. He is founder, and co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Jazz Perspectives, which began publication in 2007.

Gary Fienberg is a trumpeter whose experiences range from the great concert halls of Europe to the orchestra pits of Broadway. His performance interests cover the complete range of possibilities for a contemporary trumpeter in classical, jazz and commercial music. He has performed with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, The Manhattan Transfer, Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, The Temptations, Toots Thielmanns and many others. He spent nine year residence in Europe, was a member of the River City Brass Band, and has held faculty positions at Carnegie Mellon University, and The College of New Jersey. He continues to be an active freelance musician while holding the positions of Co-Principal Cornet with the nationally acclaimed Princeton Brass Band and Principal Trumpet of the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra.

For more information on these events, or for directions and parking information, please visit or call 609-771-2065.


School of the Arts and Communication
Art and Interactive Multimedia Building
The College of New Jersey
P.O. Box 7718
2000 Pennington Rd.
Ewing, NJ 08628