Combo Nuvo, the NYU Steinhardt Faculty Ensemble-in-Residence, traveled to Mongolia for a series of concerts and workshops in May and June, including a performance with the Mongolian National Symphony. The group includes Dr. David Schroeder, NYU Steinhardt Director of Jazz Studies, and members of his faculty: saxophonist Lenny Pickett (JazzTimes has published his Mongolian tour diary), guitarist Brad Shepik, pianist Rich Shemaria, cellist Mike Richmond, and drummer John Hadfield. Schroeder also conducted meetings with relevant Mongolian policymakers and educators, focusing on the development of jazz education in Mongolia, and exploring future connections with NYU students and faculty.
A series of concerts and master classes took place between May 30 and June 10. The tour culminated with a public performance on June 5 at the Mongolian State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet. Combo Nuvo performed jointly with the Mongolian music ensembles Morin Khuur (National Symphony) and Arga Bileg (Traditional Ensemble), where they performed jazz interpretations of traditional Mongolian songs. Other concerts and master classes also included the University of the Arts and Culture, the Mongolian Military Jazz Band, a concert and master class at an orphanage, a harmonica workshop for children by Dr. Schroeder, and a concert and jam session with local musicians at a jazz club.
Additionally, Schroeder held conversations with Mr. Ganbat, the director of the Giant Steppes Jazz Festival, and other Mongolian music educators, including representatives from the Ministry of Culture, on the topic of setting up jazz schools in Mongolia. They also discussed ways in which Mongolian jazz musicians and students can connect with students and faculty at NYU in New York City.
The Mongolian partners arranged for a documentary film crew to record Combo Nuvo’s interaction with the Mongolian music culture. The goal is to create a high-quality documentary of the exchange, and to highlight the trip for US audiences. Schroeder and the filmmakers will agree on a strategy for marketing the documentary film, which may include public television in the US, or submission to relevant film festivals.
Over the past 10 years, Combo Nuvo has represented NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Profession internationally, through diverse musical settings. Performances with the United Arab Emirates Philharmonic in Abu Dhabi, the Costa Rica National Symphony, and before an audience of over 100,000 people in Shanghai, China, are a few highlights for the group. Performing in Mongolia is yet another amazing opportunity that will help to build bridges for NYU Steinhardt faculty and students in the coming years.