The social and cultural context of music

Alexa Birdsong ’84

Major: english and politics

Subfield: special event production

My majors contributed to my interest and respect for the importance of the history of music. Producing and presenting concerts, for some professionals, can be a simple monetary effort. My experience as an English and politics major created in me an understanding of music and its prominence in the cultural history of the world and indeed the social and cultural history of the USA.

My early focus on jazz began at George Wein's Festival Productions. While Festival Productions (FPI) was a for-profit organization, it was clearly dedicated to the history of early and what is known as modern jazz and blues. George Wein is also the founder of the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals. During my tenure, we also presented national festivals including the Mellon Jazz Festivals, Benson & Hedges festival and many more. My tenure at FPI was critical in not only my education in Jazz and Blues but also in the production, marketing, and budgeting of festivals.

Following my tenure at FPI, I went on to become an Associate Producer of Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC). JALC is a non-profit dedicated to preserving and presenting jazz in a formal environment. In 1995, Jazz at Lincoln Center became a constituent of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts joining the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet and the Film Society.