University of Pittsburgh
June 11, 1998



Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, June 12 -- University of Pittsburgh music major and pianist Skip Sanders is the winner of the 1998 Pitt-Mellon Jazz Scholarship. He was selected by a panel of nationally-known jazz musicians.

The 21-year-old Clairton native will receive the $5,000 award at the free performance of Joyce Cooling and Al Jarreau on June 21, sponsored by the Mellon Jazz Festival and Three Rivers Arts Festival, at Point Park's main concert stage. The presentation will be made at intermission (approximately 7:45 p.m.) by Peter Koehler, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Pitt, and Jim McDonald, vice president and manager of community affairs at Mellon Bank.

The scholarship will be applied to Sanders' ongoing education at Pitt, where he studies piano under Frank Cunimondo. Sanders is involved with the Pitt Jazz Studies Program and recently toured Jamaica with the Pitt Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Pitt Jazz Studies Director Nathan Davis, the 1988 Mellon Jazz Festival honoree. Sanders also studied piano under Dave Budway and was a member of the 1995 All-State Jazz Band his senior year at Thomas Jefferson High School. An accomplished pianist and organ player, he has performed locally with The Mike Clancy Quartet and the Latin band, Orquestra de Tropical.

"Skip is one of the most mature young pianists I've had the pleasure to work with," said Davis. "He could already play when he came to Pitt; it was just a matter of guiding him and refining his talents." Sanders, who intends to remain in Pittsburgh and pursue a career in music, is pleased to be this year's scholarship recipient. "It's a real honor to be selected by some of the most elite jazz musicians in the country," he said. Sanders is the son of Thomas and Susan Sanders of Clairton.

The Mellon Jazz Festival is in its 12th year and remains one of southwestern Pennsylvania's greatest celebrations of music and an important part of Pittsburgh's rich cultural scene. It is sponsored by Mellon Bank and produced by George Wein's Festival Productions.