MitchellMulti-Instrumentalist and Composer
2019 USA Fellow
This award was generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Roscoe Mitchell is an internationally-renowned musician, composer, and innovator serving as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College in California. His virtuosic resurrection of overlooked woodwind instruments spanning extreme registers, visionary solo performances, and assertion of a hybrid compositional/improvisational paradigm have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music. Mitchell is a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and the Trio Space. He is also distinguished as the founder of the Creative Arts Collective, The Roscoe Mitchell Sextet & Quartet, The Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble, The Sound Ensemble, The New Chamber Ensemble, and the Note Factory.
His instrumental expertise includes the gamut of the saxophone and recorder families, clarinets, flute, piccolo, and the transverse flute in addition to his elaborate invention, the Percussion Cage. His oeuvre boasts hundreds of albums and original works, ranging from passionate, forceful improvisations to ornate orchestral music. His vast discography includes Sound (1966, 5-star review in DownBeat Magazine), People in Sorrow (1969, with the AEOC), Nonaah (1977, DownBeat Magazine Record of the Year), Bells for the South Side (2017, featured as one of the New York Times‘ best jazz albums of the year) and Discussions (distinguished on the New York Times‘ list of 2017’s best classical albums). Mitchell’s honors include the Doris Duke Artist Award and Audience Development Fund (2014), a CMA Presenting Jazz grant (2010), The Shifting Foundation Grant, and grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer.
Portrait photo by Joseph Blough.