Herb Alpert first made a name for himself in the 1960s as the leader of the beloved instrumental group Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Since the 1980s, the jazz musician has lent his name and devoted resources to a very personal endeavor, arts and arts education. Through the Herb Alpert Foundation, Alpert and his wife, fellow Grammy-winning musician Lani Hall, provide financial support for a range of initiatives centered around their favorite causes.
The foundation last year issued a challenge to the California State University, Northridge music community: It agreed to match all funds donated to the CSUN Jazz Program up to $50,000, giving the program the opportunity to raise a total of $100,000 for much-needed student financial support.
As Rona Sebastian, president of the Herb Alpert Foundation, noted, the grant was “designed to nurture new sources of funding for the program, as well as to motivate past funders to increase their commitments for the future.”
The CSUN community took up the challenge. By the end of this past summer, the Jazz Program raised more than $52,000 — with major contributions from the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Zacky Corporation, among many other gifts — and received the $50,000 matching gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation. The matching gift brings the foundation’s total support of CSUN to $175,000.
Alpert’s lifelong love affair with jazz began when he first played a trumpet in an elementary school music class, underscoring why he knows how important the early fostering of artistic expression is.
Because of Alpert’s jazz roots, “a significant priority of the Herb Alpert Foundation is support for jazz, and our recognition of the CSUN Jazz Program’s standard of excellence in nurturing young jazz musicians inspired us to provide our first grant in 2005,” said Sebastian.
Gary Pratt, director of the Jazz Studies Program, said these funds from the Alpert Foundation challenger are invaluable for students. He said that the gift supports student scholarships, so that students “have more opportunity to devote time to jazz without the added burden of having to work outside of school.”
Students can “focus on artistic development,” which allows the CSUN Jazz program to “fulfill its mission to the students and the community surrounding CSUN,” Pratt said.
The CSUN Jazz Program offers a progressive and innovative course curriculum spanning improvisation, theory, technique, history and performance. Working with top professionals from the very beginning of their college experience, students can take advantage of CSUN’s location in an epicenter of the music industry by attending clinics and concerts. The program also offers a range of ensembles, providing students with unparalleled performance experience. These include the Jazz “A” Big Band, which holds a record for first-place awards at the Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival and regularly performs at the nation’s top jazz events, including four consecutive invitations to appear at the Monterey Jazz Festival, including the latest appearance last month at the 55th edition of the festival.