The Hermitage Artist Retreat and Booker High School are teaming up to connect leading Hermitage Fellows from around the world with students and families, as well as members of the Sarasota community. This new “Hermitage @ Booker” series, a collaboration between the Hermitage Artist Retreat and Booker High School’s Visual & Performing Arts (VPA) program, launches with “The Edge of Music,” a public event on Friday, December 17, featuring Hermitage Fellow, jazz bassist, and composer Luke Stewart. Hailed by Downbeat Magazine as one of the “25 most influential jazz artists” of his generation, the DC/NYC-based musician is known for his bold experimentation on the cutting edge of musicianship. He will share an improvisational selection of his work, lead a “jam session” with local artists and students, discuss his creative process, and talk about forging a career in the music industry. “The Edge of Music” begins at 5:30pm ET in the outdoor courtyard at Booker High on Friday, December 17 (3201 North Orange Ave, Sarasota, FL 34234; free with a $5/person registration fee; click here to register).
The Hermitage has shared the gift of education with Booker High School and Booker Middle School students for many years, as well as other schools throughout the region, bringing leading artists from across the country into the classrooms, building bridges with students and teachers alike. As the Hermitage continues to expand its partnership with Booker High School, the organization will continue to present classroom programs and teacher workshops, as well as introducing new mentorship opportunities connecting aspiring young artists with the Hermitage’s extraordinary visiting musicians, playwrights, visual artists, dancers, and more. New support for this expanded community engagement is provided this season by the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, as well as additional support for teaching artist residencies provided by the Koski Family Foundation.
“As we seek to embolden our students to soar to new heights, we are thrilled to have Hermitage Fellows work with our students and present their process to the community,” says Booker High School Principal Dr. Rachel Shelley. “The Hermitage partnership is an extraordinary opportunity for the Booker High School VPA Magnet Program to connect student learning with the experiences of acclaimed professionals working in the visual and performing arts.”
Hermitage Fellow Luke Stewart is a DC/NYC-based musician and organizer of important musical presentations, with a strong presence in the national and international Improvised Music community. He is noted in Downbeat Magazine in 2020 as one of “25 most influential jazz artists” of his generation. He was profiled in The Washington Post in early 2017 as “holding down the jazz scene,” selected as “Best Musical Omnivore” in the Washington City Paper’s 2017 “Best of DC,” chosen as “Jazz Artist of the Year” for 2017 in District Now, and in the 2014 People Issue of the Washington City Paper as a “Jazz Revolutionary,” citing his multifaceted cultural activities throughout DC. In New York City, Stewart collaborated with Arts for Art in hosting the first ever “Free Jazz Convention” to share resources and strategies among the community. As a scholar/performer, he has performed and lectured at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Medgar Evers College, George Mason University, Wayne State University, University of Montana, New Mexico State University, and the University of South Carolina. He holds a BA in International Studies and a BA in Audio Production from American University, and an MA in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship from the New School. In 2019, Stewart was also a finalist for the Johnson Fellowship, citing his work in changing the musical fabric of Washington, DC.