Litchfield Jazz Festival & Jazz Camp

Staff & Board

Staff & Board

Staff

Vita West Muir

Executive/Artistic Director
Email:

Vita West Muir, Executive/Artistic Director of Litchfield Performing Arts since 1989, founded LPA in 1981. Her efforts have guided its evolution into a force in the arts in Connecticut and nationally. Ms. Muir has developed and run many programs since LPA began, from classical concerts to the critically acclaimed Litchfield Jazz Festival and Litchfield Jazz Camp, the festival’s educational arm which grants $100,000 worth of need-based scholarship each year. The program host 350+ students each summer.

Muir has secured scores of grants to support LPA’s work, at the local, state and federal levels. Her Project Poetry Live! was selected by the U. S. Department of Education for a major three-year grant and named a Model Middle School Program, one of 32 selected. She has served on the boards of The Connecticut Junior Republic, Young Audiences, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and as an NEA panelist. Muir received her B.S. in Biology from Fordham University and had a long career as a writer, specializing in medical science. She was Managing Editor of The Bioastronautics Data and Biomedical Results of Apollo for NASA and has written for Reader’s Digest, Family Health Magazine, and others. Her awards include Rotary’s Paul Harris Medal, The Elizabeth L. Mahaffey Arts Administration Fellowship, the Inge Morath Award, the 2008 Connecticut Governor’s Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism, one of two 2011 Chamber Music America CMAcclaim Awards for outstanding service and cultural contributions to the community, and, most recently, the Jazz Journalists “Jazz Hero” Award for “her impact as a producer and presenter who introduced a world-class annual festival of jazz and educational programs to Litchfield County.”


Lindsey Turner

PR & Marketing Director 

Email:

Lindsey Turner was raised in Litchfield, CT totally immersed in the arts as her mother, Vita West Muir, founded Litchfield Performing Arts the year she was born. Her early exposure to the arts led her to explore music, theater and photography, finally settling on music receiving a B.A in classical voice from the University of Connecticut in 2003 where she was the recipient of the Victor Borge Scholarship, a section leader in three choirs and a founding member of the Student Programming Advisory Committee for the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at UCONN.

She spent summers as a volunteer for Litchfield Performing Arts and later worked summers handling the administration of Litchfield Jazz Camp. She spent her last semester at UCONN as an executive intern at the Metropolitan Opera, and after graduation worked in the Development Office at the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase College until she returned to Litchfield Performing Arts where she now serves at the PR & Marketing Director. Lindsey lives with her husband Nathan, a long time LPA volunteer, in Brooklyn, New York.


Karen Simpson

Assistant Director / Project Manager

Email:

Karen Simpson was born in a small New Jersey town and came to Connecticut as an infant. Her interest in piano and visual art was encouraged early by supportive parents who inspired her to pursue both. Karen graduated from Arizona State University in 2005 with a degree in Art History and worked as an Art Administrator & Registrar in the professional art world until the spring of 2010. She joyfully accepted the offer to join the Litchfield Performing Arts team in April of that year and delighted in the opportunity to finally meld the best of art and music in her life.

Karen is our Assistant Director, Litchfield Jazz Festival Technical Director and Project Director for Project Poetry Live! where she manages an arts-in-education program for some 1,200 7th graders across Northwest and central Connecticut. She is a lover of animals and enjoys hiking, horseback riding, jewelry making, piano and drawing. She lives in Simsbury with her husband and Sedona, their cat.

Machayla Lowell

Development Assistant

Email:

Machayla Lowell was born in Litchfield County and grew up in the Northwest corner. She was raised with five siblings and is very family oriented. Growing up, Machayla was especially outgoing and active which lead to participating in as many extra-curricular activities she could. These ranged from sports and art classes to hiking and swimming. Through the exposure to different programs, she took a special interest in the creative arts and has pursued careers oriented around the arts. Machayla graduated Housatonic Valley Regional High School in 2009 and transitioned from part-time to full-time work. Through the years, she has had an array of jobs ranging from a certification in lifeguarding to woodworking and just previously, drafting for a New England furniture company. She enjoys music, travel, outdoor activities and photography. Machayla currently lives in Salisbury, Connecticut.

Matthew Belliveau

Festival Technical Assistant Intern
Email:

Matthew Belliveau was born in Hartford, CT and has lived in Newington, CT for his whole life.  From a young age, Matthew has been involved in an array of activities ranging from sports, visual arts, acting, and music.  Initially, piano was his chosen instrument, but within a few years he redirected his attention to learning the guitar.  Throughout his public school career he has performed regularly in jazz ensembles and other groups.  Matthew spent time volunteering at a rock camp for The Music Bureau in Salem, CT, functioning as an organizer and teacher to young musicians. This experience inspired him along with encouragement from Brian Kelly, his high school jazz band director, to become a private guitar instructor.  Currently, he is a full time student at Central Connecticut State University working towards a BA in Jazz Studies with guitar as his instrument.

Elizabeth Lambert

Special Events / Artist Coordinator Intern
Email:

Elizabeth “Ellie” Lambert is a native of Hartford, CT and grew up in Torrington, CT. Born to a close-knit family who supported the arts, Ellie was immersed at a young age into both music and theater. She began singing in elementary school and upon entering Torrington High School, she joined the THS Chamber Choir. She has participated in statewide music competitions, American Music Abroad, Musical Theater, and has had the wonderful opportunity to represent Connecticut and Litchfield County at Carnegie Hall.

Ellie is currently a senior at the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, majoring in Communication Management and Design with a concentration in Corporate Communications. While at school she works as the Community Director for the school's radio station, VIC Radio, and as a project manager for IC Student Consulting for Non- Profits. During the spring of her junior year, Ellie spent the semester in Los Angeles as the Social Media and Event Planning Intern for Habitat for Humanity San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. She enjoys traveling, photography, and knitting.

Jonathan Huber

Volunteer Coordinator Intern
Email:

Jonathan Huber is a native of New Fairfield, CT, and now lives in Southbury, CT. Raised into a small family, Jonathan discovered early on that playing, experiencing, and planning  music was his passion. During his time in high school Jonathan took part in every musical opportunity possible, including symphonic and marching band, pit orchestra, chorale and the creation and presidency of the school guitar club.

With a background in piano, guitar, trombone, and voice, he wanted to take his interest in music beyond the performance aspect when deciding on a school of study. This led him to attend Lyndon State College in scenic Vermont where he received a BS in Music Business and Industry with concentrations in production and business, and a BS in Arts Management concentrating in artist management.  While at school he took part in organizing a multitude of events on and off campus, including a weekend Bluegrass festival taking place at the nearby Burke Mountain. In the summer of his junior year Jon volunteered for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT, which sparked his interest to continue organizing music festivals. He enjoys live music, the outdoors, song writing and travel.


 

Vita West Muir, Executive/Artistic Director of Litchfield Performing Arts since 1989, founded LPA in 1981. Her efforts have guided its evolution into a force in the arts in Connecticut and beyond.  Ms. Muir has developed and run many programs over 30 years, from classical concerts, to the critically acclaimed Litchfield Jazz Festival which she conceived and founded in 1996. She established the teaching arm of the Festival, Litchfield Jazz Camp, as a one week day program in 1997 for 35 students.  Eighteen years later it is a five-week day and residential program for students of all ages hosting some 400 students each summer from all over the world, with a quarter of them attending on need-based scholarships.

Litchfield Jazz Festival has featured the whos-who of jazz and started and revivified many careers. It is the festival that first presented Diana Krall to American audiences and introduced Brad Mehldau, Larry Goldings, and Eric Alexander, among others.  It has featured Dave Brubeck, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Danilo Perez, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and a pantheon too extensive to cite in detail here.

Muir has secured scores of grants to support LPA’s work, at the local, state and federal level. She has served on the boards of Young Audiences, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and as an NEA panelist. Muir received her B.S. in Biology from Fordham University and had a long career as a writer, specializing in medical science. For NASA, she documented the Biomedical Results of Apollo. Her awards include Rotary’s Paul Harris Medal, The Elizabeth L. Mahaffey Arts Administration Fellowship, the Inge Morath Award and, the 2008 Connecticut Governor’s Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism, and the 2011 Chamber Music America CMAcclaim Award in recognition of outstanding service and cultural contributions to the community.  She is gratified to accept the Jazz Journalists Jazz Hero award.