University of Pittsburgh
November 30, 2016

Pitt Student Guitarist Recipient of 2016 Pitt-BNY Mellon Jazz Scholarship


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

High resolution image(s) available >

PITTSBURGH—Ryan Salisbury, a young guitarist from the North Hills, is the recipient of the 2016 Pitt-BNY Mellon Jazz Scholarship.Ryan Salisbury

Salisbury, 20, is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, where he carries a double major of biological sciences and music. He won the $5,000 academic scholarship based on a recording of jazz standards he submitted to a judging panel composed of members of the Pitt Jazz Studies Program faculty. Funded by Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and BNY Mellon, the award is given annually to a current or incoming Pitt music student.

Salisbury was recognized recently at a private reception at Pitt’s Frick Fine Arts Building, just prior to the 2016 Pitt Jazz Concert.

He began piano lessons at age 5 in his hometown of Canton, Mass., and switched to guitar while in junior high school. He performed in the big band at Canton High School and again at Hampton High School, after his family moved to this region.

He took a job as an usher at Manchester Craftmen’s Guild just to be part of the local jazz scene. His quartet, Slingshot, has been picking up gigs at James Street Tavern, Club Café, and other spots.

At Pitt, Salisbury has been a member of the Pitt Jazz Ensemble since his freshman year and takes private lessons from Joe Negri. He is a director of music and guitarist for Allies of the Boulevard, the house band for the popular student-run late-night talk show Pitt Tonight.

One of Salisbury’s most rewarding projects at Pitt has been his help in creating the Music Living Learning Community at Mark A. Nordenberg Hall, a freshman residence. These communities are Pitt’s specialized living environments that are centered on a distinctive theme or academic interest. Salisbury worked with Geri Allen, associate director of music and director of jazz studies, to establish one tailored to music majors, though it is open to all students at Nordenberg Hall. There are three practice rooms on site with unlimited access, and participants attend several local music events every year.

As for his future plans, Salisbury may take a gap year after graduation and concentrate on his music career. Eventually he sees himself as a researcher in a bioscience lab, with a concentration in genome editing.

“What I’d really like to do,” he said, “is do research in the lab during the day and perform at night.”

This is the 30th year Pitt and BNY Mellon have funded the scholarship. BNY Mellon Jazz supports nonprofit organizations engaged in live performances and jazz education.