SFJAZZ Names Terence Blanchard Executive Artistic Director


​Blanchard will lead SFJAZZ’s artistic programming and creative direction.

(Photo: Scott Chernis)

SFJAZZ has appointed Terence Blanchard as executive artistic director. In the new position, Blanchard will lead the organization’s artistic programming and guide its overall creative direction. His appointment comes as SFJAZZ founder Randall Kline prepares to step down from the organization he founded in 1983.

This year, SFJAZZ is celebrating its 40th anniversary and the 10th birthday of the SFJAZZ Center. Blanchard joins SFJAZZ as it prepares for the 2023–’24 season beginning Sept. 7.

Blanchard is a renowned composer, bandleader and trumpet player who has been a consistent artistic force for more than 40 years. From his stint with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers to writing scores for Spike Lee and other films, he is unique in the jazz world as an artist whose creative endeavors go far beyond the genre into film scoring, crafting television series soundscapes and conceiving grand operas that have been recognized at the highest levels of art appreciation. A recipient of a 2018 USA Artist Fellowship and a 2023 Peabody Medal, Blanchard is also an educational mentor, having held positions at the Berklee Institute of Music, The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and as chair of jazz studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Blanchard has had a long relationship with SFJAZZ and has performed numerous times at the SFJAZZ Center and for the organization. From 2014 to 2016, he was a SFJAZZ resident artistic director and, in 2016, presented his opera Champion: An Opera In Jazz. Most recently, in August 2022, his E-Collective with Turtle Island Quartet performed at the SFJAZZ Center.

As executive artistic director, Blanchard will be the artistic leader of the organization and will help formulate and implement artistic programming across diverse disciplines and genres. He will work closely with the teams at SFJAZZ to curate year-round concert programming, expand the SFJAZZ “At Home” digital platform and further develop community engagement and educational offerings. Blanchard’s appointment comes after a national search conducted by Arts Consulting Group.

“I am honored and excited to become a part of such an amazing and historic institution,” Blanchard said. “SFJAZZ has meant so much to the development of America’s Greatest art form. I am looking forward to collaborating with the staff while also bringing my own ideas about how to move our music forward and continue the SFJAZZ mission to explore the full spectrum of jazz — from its origins to its diverse and evolving expressions around the world today. I cannot wait to continue this journey.”

For more information, visit sfjazz.org. DB

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