University of Pittsburgh
November 3, 2014

Pitt Freshman Is Recipient of 2014 Pitt-BNY Mellon Jazz Scholarship


Sharon Blake


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PITTSBURGH—A University of Pittsburgh freshman and tenor saxophonist is the winner of the 2014 Pitt-BNY Mellon Jazz Scholarship, an honor that is awarded annually to a Pitt student.

JamesJames Misner Misner, an 18-year-old bioengineering major, won the $5,000 tuition scholarship based on a recording of jazz standards he submitted to a judging panel composed of nationally recognized jazz musicians. He was recognized Nov. 1 during intermission at Pitt's 44th Annual Jazz Concert at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

A native of Athens, Pa., Misner began music lessons in second grade on the clarinet but switched to sax as he entered high school. He played tenor sax all four years in the Sayre Area High School Band. As a junior, he was one of only two tenor saxophonists statewide selected to perform with the prestigious Pennsylvania All-State Jazz Band in Erie. He was selected to perform with the All-National Jazz Band in Nashville, Tenn., as a senior.

Misner selected Pitt for his education because of the reputation of Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering and also because of the great overall jazz history of Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Pitt Jazz Ensemble, which regularly performs around campus. During Pitt Jazz Week (Oct. 27-Nov. 1), he participated in drummer Terri Lyne Carrington's master class via Internet2 and performed on campus with legendary Pittsburgh jazz vocalist Walt Maddox.

"We look forward to coupling our rich Pitt-BNY Mellon Jazz Scholarship tradition and preparedness with James' intellect, talent, and drive," said Geri Allen, director of the Pitt Jazz Studies Program, which is in the Department of Music in Pitt's Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Allen called Misner's application recording "exemplary."

As for Misner, he hopes to include medical school in his future plans but says he will always make time in his life to play and perform jazz.

This is the 28th year Pitt and BNY Mellon have funded the scholarship. BNY Mellon Jazz supports nonprofit organizations engaged in live performances and jazz education.