Leo Blanco Fills Hole of Conservatory Jazz Master Classes

Meghan Farnsworth, Staff Writer

What came as a surprise last Friday night should not have. After all, Oberlin has a history of showing resistance in the face of persecution, especially that based on racial and gender biases. Sadly, this spirit does not always carry over to the world of music at Oberlin.

Leo Blanco, a Venezuelan jazz pianist, composer and arranger, gave a guest recital accompanied by Oberlin Conservatory faculty members, Peter Dominguez, Professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass, on jazz bass, and Jamey Haddad, Professor of Advanced Improvisation and Percussion on drums. Featuring the talent and mastery of these three humble, proof-in-the-pudding guys, it was a chance for Oberlin students interested in pursuing a career outside of classical music, especially jazz, to witness matured artistry of unconventional performers with years of experience in their field. Attending a concert featuring an artist proficient in one’s instrument is industry standard for any classical musician. In fact, it’s guaranteed that after the performance, the musician is inspired, fulfilled, and hopeful towards his or her craft, and Oberlin has provided this timeless chance for a range of classical musician types: historical performance, contemporary, and the in-between, i.e. performers of music composed between the time of Beethoven and the Second Viennese School.

What transpired on Friday evening in Clonick Hall is not a testament to the greatness of Oberlin’s support outside of the classical music genre. Instead, it’s an insight into a Conservatory culture that ignores all genres other than classical music.

With about 15 weeks per semester, it is