Jazz has been Anthony H.P. Lee ’79’s passion since he discovered it in his father’s record collection as a youth. More Princeton students will be able to share that passion, thanks to Lee’s $4 million gift to create an endowed fund for jazz studies.
Scott Burnham, chairman of the music department, said Lee’s gift will expand the jazz program “in every conceivable direction: performance opportunities, master classes, professional residencies, and high-level disciplinary courses.”
The program is led by senior lecturer Anthony D.J. Branker ’80, a musician and conductor of the University’s jazz ensembles. Branker said the program will benefit by offering more perspectives to students, adding that it was “always a dream of mine to get to this point.”
Lee said Branker was the main reason that he decided to make his gift, saying that Branker has created a strong program that could become one of the best in the nation.
It is important to expose students to jazz “because it is an extremely creative and emotional art form that encourages and rewards freethinking, spontaneity, and risk-taking,” Lee said. “At the same time, it requires a high degree of mental discipline and analysis.”
The fund will support faculty and students in both the music department and the Center for African American Studies. Burnham said the fund will help build a bridge between the two disciplines, and said a certificate program in jazz studies has been discussed.
A math major at Princeton, Lee is a director and major shareholder of Aberon, a private-investment company. He lives in Sydney, Australia.