For more than 40 years, James Newton has been one of the most versatile, most celebrated working musicians in the world. On Friday, May 20, UCLA will honor the distinguished professor of music with “A Tribute to James Newton” at Schoenberg Hall at 8 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.
Friday’s concert will feature Newton’s sacred music, including performances of “Mass for Four Voices and Chamber Ensemble,” “The Image of the Invisible,” “Elisha’s Gift,” and “Looking Above, the Faith of Joseph.” The final piece will be Newton’s arrangement of “Amazing Grace,” a spiritual anthem originating from world’s first human rights movement to abolish slavery. Newton was moved to score the arrangement after President Barack Obama sang the anthem in a service for the parishioners slain at Mother Emanual AME Church in Charleston in 2015. “Amazing Grace” premiered at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston as part of “Grace Notes,” Newton’s collaboration with acclaimed visual artist Carrie Mae Weams.
Newton was the leading force in the development of the UCLA Global Jazz Studies Program and has taught students in the areas of composition and jazz styles, history and analysis. He is a legendary Blue Note recording artist on the jazz flute and has been the top flutist for a record-breaking 23 consecutive years in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics Poll.