University of Pittsburgh
June 10, 2001

INCOMING FRESHMAN JAZZ PIANIST WINS 2001 PITT-MELLON JAZZ SCHOLARSHIP

Contact: 

Sharon Blake

412-624-4364

Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, June 8 -- A young jazz pianist from the Philadelphia area is the winner of the 2001 University of Pittsburgh-Mellon Jazz Scholarship. Michael Schiller, 17, of Merion Station, PA will accept the honor on Tuesday, June 12, prior to the noon concert by the Ken Karsh Trio, at One Mellon Plaza, corner of Fifth and Grant, downtown. The event kicks off the 2001 Mellon Jazz Festival.

This is the 15th year Pitt and the Mellon Financial Corporation have joined to fund that scholarship, given to a current or incoming Pitt jazz student who shows the most promise. A panel of internationally recognized musicians selected Schiller's winning audition tape.

A second honor, the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar Think Tank Adam Cohen, Esq. Weil, Gotshal & Manges Scholarship, will be awarded to Pitt student Jordyn White, on Thursday, June 14, prior to the Carl King concert at Mellon Green, corner of Sixth and Ross, downtown. Both scholarships are worth $5,000.

A 2001 graduate from Friends' Central High School in Wynnewood, PA, Schiller began studying classical piano in the third grade and added private jazz lessons while in middle school. He realized his love for jazz piano while performing with the school's jazz band. "The Junior Jazz Band really got me hooked, and everything else kind of took off from there," Schiller recalled. He joined the high school jazz ensemble, and, along with other young musicians, formed Blue Roots, a ska/reggae band that made its mark on the Philadelphia scene, including opening for Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Schiller also participates in a weekly workshop/seminar conducted by professional Philadelphia jazz musicians, including Tony Micceli (vibraphone), Charles Fambrough (bass), and Steve Giordano (guitar). In his spare time, Schiller teaches piano to children ages 8 – 15.

When Schiller visited Pitt, he sat in with the Pitt Jazz Ensemble at a rehearsal, and met piano instructor Frank Cunimondo, under whom he hopes to study, but his major will be psychology. "I was looking for a place where I can continue my music but also have a substantial education in academics," he said.

White, 20, is a vocalist and trombonist with the Pitt Jazz Ensemble, and will apply the Think Tank Scholarship toward her upcoming senior year. A psychology and pre-med major, White also sings with Pitt's Gospel Choir, is membership chair for the Black Action Society, and participates in the Black Dance Workshop.

The Think Tank took place at the Katz Graduate School of Business in February 2001. It brought together music scholars, record company executives, and legal experts to discuss current trends and issues in the music business. One participant, Adam Cohen, partner at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, waived his $2,500 honorarium, choosing instead to donate it toward a Pitt scholarship. The University of Pittsburgh matched the amount, resulting in the $5,000 award.

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