Renowned Trumpeter/Composer Ambrose Akinmusire Named Artistic Director of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA
Institute and UCLA Welcome Incoming Class of 2025
Los Angeles, CA – Internationally acclaimed trumpeter and composer Ambrose Akinmusire has been named Artistic Director of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA. A 2007 graduate of the program, he will return to guide and encourage the next generation of jazz artists.
Six extraordinary young jazz musicians from around the world were selected for the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA, Class of 2025. Each will begin the intensive, full-scholarship program in September 2023 and attain a Master of Music in Jazz Performance degree from The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music – one of the nation’s top music schools – in spring 2025.
The Class of 2025 includes drummer Ebunoluwa Daramola of Assen, Netherlands and Lagos, Nigeria; bassist Destiny Diggs-Pinto of Newark, NJ; alto saxophonist Alden Hellmuth of Hartford, CT; pianist Miles Lennox of Fort Lauderdale, FL; tenor saxophonist Sasha Ripley of Houston, TX; and Yakiv Tsvietinskyi of Dnipro, Ukraine. The musicians were selected through a rigorous application process culminating in an audition judged by legendary pianist Herbie Hancock; renowned musician, producer and philanthropist Herb Alpert; Ambrose Akinmusire and Walter Smith III, Institute of Jazz Performance classmates and renowned touring and recording artists.
Akinmusire noted, “Having been a student and later a judge, mentor and teacher in this program, I look forward to sharing my knowledge and continuing the legacy and impact of the Herbie Hancock Institute.”
Herbie Hancock added, “Ambrose is the perfect person to inspire the students of the Institute of Jazz Performance. I remember working with him when he was a student in the program, and watching him develop over the years has been really exciting. Now he will be able to cultivate a new wave of creative artists through his role in the program.”
In addition to being an Institute of Jazz Performance alumnus, Akinmusire won first place honors in the Institute’s 2007 International Trumpet Competition. A two-time GRAMMY nominee, he received a Doris Duke Impact Award and was named a Doris Duke Artist. In his role as Artistic Director, he will follow in the footsteps of previous Artistic Directors trumpeter Terence Blanchard and bassist Ron Carter, two celebrated musicians who taught Akinmusire during his time in the program.
Launched in 1995, the Institute of Jazz Performance accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class and provides them with unparalleled opportunities to study jazz and its defining element of improvisation with master musicians, composers and educators. All students receive full scholarships, along with stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. This enables them to be fully immersed in their education and development as artists.
Throughout each academic year, world-renowned jazz masters serve as Artists-in-Residence, teaching and performing with the students. Artists-in-Residence have included Kenny Barron, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jack DeJohnette, Nnenna Freelon, Roy Haynes, Jimmy Heath, Dave Holland, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Lewis Nash, Danilo Pérez, Dianne Reeves, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, and Clark Terry, among many others. In addition, the students receive composition instruction from multi-GRAMMY Award winner Billy Childs and study improvisation with Jerry Bergonzi and Dick Oatts, two of the world’s top jazz improvisation experts.
The aspiring musicians study both individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching, and lectures on the jazz tradition. They are also encouraged to experiment in expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances. A music business and technology component helps prepare the students for their careers as professional musicians.
Under the mentorship of their acclaimed instructors, the college students, collectively known as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance Ensemble at UCLA, present high-profile concerts and lead jazz education and community outreach programs in Los Angeles, across the United States and around the world. In recent years, students have performed at International Jazz Day events in Istanbul, Turkey; Osaka, Japan; Paris, France; Havana, Cuba; St. Petersburg, Russia; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; and the White House. They also have participated in performance and education tours of Argentina, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Jordan, Morocco, Peru, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam with Herbie Hancock.
Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance alumni – including Ambrose Akinmusire, Lionel Loueke, Gretchen Parlato, Walter Smith III, Dayna Stephens and Helen Sung, along with many others – have gone on to major careers as performing and recording artists, composers and educators.
Institute President Tom Carter said, “The Institute is pleased to welcome Ambrose Akinmusire in this new role. As a leader of his generation, he will be one of the artists that will be innovating this music for years to come. Under his direction, the incoming class of students will join our growing family of influential artists who are creative forces in the world of music, education and beyond.”
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Inaugural Dean Eileen Strempel shared, “The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA attracts the best rising jazz talent to study with some of the world’s finest jazz artists. With Ambrose Akinmusire as Artistic Director of the program, the students at the Institute and UCLA will have access to an important voice in jazz. We are delighted to welcome him into our family, to continue our twelve-year partnership with the Institute and to welcome our sixth class of phenomenal artists.”
Internationally renowned recording artist and composer Ambrose Akinmusire is one of the top trumpeters and composers in jazz today and a true leader in creative music. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, the Institute of Jazz Performance and winner of the Institute’s International Trumpet Competition, he has proven himself one of the most vital and deft musicians of his generation. In recent years, Akinmusire has won DownBeat and Jazz Times Critics and Readers Polls and received Germany’s ECHO Award as Instrumentalist of the Year. His debut release, When the Heart Emerges Glistening, topped critics’ lists at The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and earned him the Grand Prix from France’s l’Academie du Jazz. A former Blue Note recording artist, Akinmusire has performed at Carnegie Hall and other major venues, and at international jazz festivals including Barcelona, Copenhagen, Monterey, North Sea and Umbria. He is a Doris Duke Impact Awardee and a Doris Duke Artist and has served as Resident Artistic Director for SFJazz. Akinmusire has released six albums of his own and has appeared on dozens of others, earning him two GRAMMY nominations. Besides being a cutting-edge performer and prolific composer, Akinmusire is a dedicated educator who has presented jazz master classes around the globe. His latest recording is a solo trumpet album entitled Beauty is Enough.
Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA – Class of 2025
Ebunoluwa Daramola, drums, was born in the Netherlands and grew up in Nigeria and Perth, Western Australia. He was introduced to a wide variety of music and began studying jazz in high school. Daramola was named Outstanding Performer at the Western Australian Schools Jazz Festival in 2014 and 2017. He attended the James Morrison Academy at the University of South Australia, where he studied with James Morrison, Mat Jodrell, Jeff Clayton and Carl Mackey. Daramola has performed across Australia with James Muller, James Morrison, Angela Davis, William Barton and as the leader of his own groups.
Destiny Diggs-Pinto, bass, was born in Newark, New Jersey and began studying music at age 10. She participated in the Jazz House Kids program and played in the New Jersey Youth Symphony and the Youth Orchestra of Essex. She was the winner of the National YoungArts Merit Double Bass Award. Diggs-Pinto was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Manhattan School of Music. She has studied with Ron Carter, Buster Williams and James Genus, among others. Diggs-Pinto has performed with Winard Harper, Jon Faddis and Willerm Delisfort. In 2023, she was named a Sister in Jazz by the Jazz Education Network.
Alden Hellmuth, alto saxophone, was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. She studied saxophone with Kris Davis at the Greater Hartford Academy for the Arts and was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute, where she studied with Abraham Burton. Hellmuth was selected to participate in Focusyear in Basel, Switzerland, where she studied with Miguel Zenón, Larry Grenadier and Lionel Loueke. She was a semifinalist for the New Music USA Next Jazz Legacy program and received the Dorothy Goodwin Scholarship for her work honoring women. Hellmuth has toured with Jeremy Pelt and Louis Hayes, and arranged music for Moses Sumney and Brandee Younger.
Miles Lennox, piano, was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He attended the Dillard Center for Arts, where he studied with Stephen Scott. Lennox has participated in the GRAMMY Camp, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Summer Jazz Camp, the Florida All-State Jazz Band and the YoungArts program. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Lennox has studied with Stefon Harris, Marc Cary, Phil Markowitz and Jimmy Petullo, and has performed with jazz greats including Wynton Marsalis, Sean Jones, Jon Faddis and Bobby Watson.
Sasha Ripley, tenor saxophone, was born and raised in Houston and began studying saxophone at age 13. He attended the Kinder High School for Visual and Performing Arts, where he graduated with a Distinguished Level of Achievement diploma. Ripley attended the Skidmore Jazz Camp and participated in the Herbie Hancock Institute’s Peer-to-Peer tours, performing with Sean Jones and Antonio Hart. He was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music, where he participated in the Global Jazz Institute and studied with Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci, Tia Fuller, Kurt Elling and Gary Bartz. Ripley has performed extensively across the country with a variety of artists.
Yakiv Tsvietinskyi, trumpet, was born and raised in Dnipro, Ukraine and began his music studies on piano at age 6. He received his undergraduate degree from the M. Glinka Academy of Music. While in college, he participated in the Making Music Across Borders program. Tsvietinskyi received a Fulbright grant for education, which enabled him to attend Western Michigan University and attain a master’s degree. He also participated in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center, where he had the opportunity to study with Jason Moran. A recipient of two DownBeat Student Music Awards, Tsvietinskyi was accepted into the Focusyear program in Basel, Switzerland. He has taught music in Dnipro, Kyiv and Lviv.
The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is a nonprofit education organization with a mission to offer the world’s most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and to present public school music education programs for young people around the world. The Institute preserves, perpetuates and expands jazz as a global art form, and utilizes jazz as a means to unite people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. All of the Institute’s programs are provided free of charge to students, schools and communities worldwide. The Institute’s programs use jazz as the medium to encourage imaginative thinking, creativity, a positive self-image, and respect for one’s own and others’ cultural heritage. Founded in 1986 as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the organization began operating as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz in 2019 in recognition of Mr. Hancock’s commitment to the Institute since its establishment, his expert guidance as Institute Chairman, and his immense contributions to and impact on music, education and humanity.
In January 2016, the University of California Board of Regents formally established the Herb Alpert School of Music as UCLA’s 12th professional school and the first music school in the University of California system. Created in 2007 with a $30 million gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation, the school sets a new standard for 21st century music schools by balancing performance and scholarship, and by embracing classical western music, world music and jazz, and popular contemporary music. With more than 580 undergraduate and graduate students, the school offers 15 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs through three highly rated academic departments, each with internationally acclaimed faculty. The Department of Music competes for students with the nation’s top music schools. It provides intensive individual studio instruction, thorough theoretical training and full participation in large and small ensembles, and offers many degree tracks including the M.M. degree in conjunction with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. The Department of Ethnomusicology is the only one of its kind in the U.S. and the most celebrated program in the world for the study of diverse musical cultures. The Department of Musicology teaches and conducts research on jazz, heavy metal, techno, musical theater, and other forms of popular music as well as European classical music. The National Research Council recently recognized UCLA Musicology as the top ranked academic music doctoral program in the U.S.