ROCHESTER, NY — The Eastman School of Music just has announced a new scholarship by multiple Grammy-award winning musician and entertainer Billy Joel, and the worthy recipient is 33-year old Eastman doctoral student Russell Scarbrough.
The Billy Joel Endowment Fund has given Eastman a generous gift of $320,000. The majority of that gift ($314,000) will be used to establish an endowed Billy Joel Scholarship at the Eastman School. Six thousand dollars has been awarded to Mr. Scarbrough, the first Billy Joel Scholar. The general purpose of the scholarship is to benefit “extraordinarily talented music students who are exploring relationships between classical and popular music genres.”
A Baltimore, Maryland native, Russell Scarbrough received his master’s degree in jazz composition from Eastman, and currently is working on his doctoral degree in jazz and contemporary media. The accomplished trombonist has performed in a variety of rock and blues bands, as well as in musical theater shows. For the past three summers, Scarbrough has written numerous arrangements for pop vocalists with orchestra. Future plans include a proposed piece for the Eastman Studio Orchestra with several jazz soloists.
“What an honor it is to be the first recipient of the Billy Joel Scholarship at Eastman!” says Scarbrough. “During the past three years, I have been enormously privileged to study and refine my musical craft here with inspiring professors, and to play with such great musicians in all genres. I am grateful to Billy Joel and to the Eastman School for helping me further my career with this scholarship.”
In recognition of the scholarship’s importance, Eastman Dean James Undercofler says, “I believe this scholarship not only will afford a worthy student much-needed support, it also will contribute to finding solutions to the significant challenges facing music in society today.”
A committed advocate for music education, Billy Joel began holding master classes on college campuses more than 20 years ago. He also has long encouraged collaboration among the performing arts as well as the advancement of “crossover” learning and performance among the various genres of music. In addition to having sold more than 100 million records over the past 25 years, Billy Joel has earned numerous awards and honorary doctoral degrees. For his accomplishments as a musician and humanitarian, Billy Joel was honored as the 2002 MusiCares Person of the Year by the MusiCares Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
For more information on the Eastman School of the University of Rochester, please visit www.rochester.edu/Eastman.
Note: A photo of Billy Joel is available.