Leroy Jenkins biography

Leroy JenkinsViolinist Leroy Jenkins is continually inventing his own language in music.  He combines an extraordinary variety of sounds associated with the Black music tradition with European styles, interweaving jazz and classical vocabularies.  While critics grasp for the words to pin down his musical identity, all agree on the exhilarating effects of his multilayered sensibility:

  • "Jenkins is a master who cuts across all categories" (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • "Jenkins's violin mastery spans continents, centuries" (Chicago Tribune)
  • "He can put a spell on you" (Village Voice).

After a decade of touring with his own groups and solo worldwide, Jenkins received a number of major commissions and is particularly in demand for experimental and theater-based work and residences.  Mother of Three Sons, a dance opera collaboration with Bill T. Jones, premiered in Germany and in 1992 was presented by the New York City Opera and by the Houston Grand Opera.  Prestigious commissioning programs such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Readers Digest Program, Meet the Composer, and the National Endowment for the Arts have awarded him numerous grants.   Recently, Jenkins created several new theater works: Fresh Faust received its first workshop in Boston at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Negro's Burial Ground at the Kitchen in New York, and The Three Willies (a multimedia piece) at the Painted Bride in Philadelphia.

Jenkins has also frequently been sought after as a composer/musician in residence at such esteemed schools as Oberlin College Conservatory, University of Illinois, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Bennington College, and Carnegie Mellon Institute.  Previous commission sources have been as wide-ranging as the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors (for solo violin and solo dance).  The Albany Symphony and the Kronos Quartet have performed his works, and in 1986 he was included in the American Composers Series presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.  Five NEA grants and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants testify to the regard in which Jenkins is held throughout the national arts community.

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