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Jazz Hero Has the Right Stuff by Owen McNally for WNPRs Jazz Corridor

Jazz Hero Has the Right Stuff by Owen McNally for WNPRs Jazz Corridor
Date Posted: May 23, 2014
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Jazz Hero Has the Right Stuff -- One of the most triumphant stories in the long history of jazz in Connecticut is how Vita West Muir, against all odds, single-handedly created and directed The Litchfield Jazz Festival, which, since its dramatic launching in 1996, has soared to national renown for its world-class quality, exquisitely balanced fare and efficient manner in which it has been run.
Category: Festival Landing Page
Posted by: lturner

Jazz Hero Has the Right Stuff
by Owen McNally for WNPR's Jazz Corridor
April 30, 2014

Vita Muir
Credit Litchfield Performing Arts

 

Last weekend, Muir's much merited status as an acclaimed shaker-and-doer on the state and national jazz scene was formally recognized as she was presented with the prestigious Jazz Journalists Association's Jazz Hero Award at the Litchfield Jazz Festival Gala held at Metro Bis Restaurant in Simsbury. JJA's imprimatur puts the official seal of approval on Muir's heroic jazz impresario stature that she has long embodied for her conduct above and beyond the call of duty in the volatile, financially hazardous jazz world where venues, festivals and even reputations have a high mortality rate. She was one of two dozen, 2014 national jazz heroes named by the JJA, ranging from musicians to producers.

Even before founding the LJF and establishing the festival's educational arm, the successful Litchfield Jazz Camp, Muir was busily nurturing a variety of local cultural activities as executive and artistic director of Litchfield Performing Arts.

 

Vita West Muir has been awarded what would amount to a trophy case full of accolades. Founded by her in 1981, the organization's mission has been to change lives positively through the dissemination of the arts. Its programs include, among others, the LJF, the LJF Jazz Camp and Project Poetry Live!, which, under Muir's watchful, artful and savvy eye, has brought poetry, music, dance and visual art together for high school age students.

An industrious, indefatigable advocate for the arts, Muir has worked to secure scores of grants from local, state and federal sources to support LPA's ambitious cultural missions. As a happy warrior for the arts, she has been awarded what would amount to a trophy case full of accolades. Among these are such prizes as the Inge Morath Award, the 2008 Connecticut Governor's Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism and one of two 2011 Chamber Music America CMAcclaim Awards for outstanding service and cultural contributions to the community. As part of her pro-arts curriculum vitae, Muir has served on the boards of Young Audiences, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and as an NEA panelist.

Muir's love for music and art-a passion for hands-on knowledge demonstrated by her practice of not booking acts until she's actually heard them in live performances-seems to have taken her pretty far afield from her college training, which earned her a BS in biology from Fordham University. Before she received her calling to go forth and do missionary work in the world of arts and culture, she had enjoyed a long career as a writer, specializing in medical science. She was managing editor of The Bioastronautics Data and Biomedical Results of the Apollo project for NASA, and has written forReader's Digest, Family Health Magazine, and other publications.

How beneficial for the biomedical health of jazz that Muir ultimately embraced a second career path that focused her creative energies and resilient determination on nurturing arts and culture. Clearly, the arts visionary demonstrated the right stuff when nearly two decades ago she launched one of her greatest research projects ever, the still ascending and boldly exploratory LJF.

In retrospect, Muir seems more jazz miracle worker than jazz hero, especially since her cause, against all odds and in defiance of pure, cold logic, succeeded and continues to succeed with even more triumphs and perhaps even more miracles looming in the future.

POSTED APRIL 30 ON WNPR.ORG / JAZZ CORRIDOR.

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Date Posted: May 23, 2014