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Roscoe Mitchell Targeted for Dismissal at Mills College

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6 hours ago, Kevin Bresnahan said:

Even if Roscoe's 401K got wiped out in '08, he's still 76 and eligible for his full Social Security benefits, right? He should be able to retire if he wants to.

These days, it seems like so many people get stuck working until the day they die. It doesn't seem right.

I wouldn't want to try to live on just my Social Security "benefits", & I'm the same age as Roscoe!!

 

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This was posted on Facebook by Daniel Steffey, a former student of Roscoe who has worked on a number of orchestral scores with him. I met Dan in Iceland and again in Montreal while working on some large ensemble works with Roscoe.

Re: Mills College cutting Roscoe's chair. I can only relate to this in the way I know best, by seeing myself in it, to my own situation, and in those people pursuing a similar path... 

I have three people in my life that I consider heroes, and Roscoe is one of them. Not only have I been so incredibly fortunate (an understatement) to study with him during my time at Mills, but also to work with him on a large scale project that has reached concert halls in four (or five?) countries and two records. I am beside myself that this has been my reality since entering Mills in 2009, and I find that it has a special weight because what I do as a musician, isn't exactly what Roscoe does. I am not an improviser, I did not come up in jazz music. But we are both musicians. 

He is an amazing teacher and mentor, a pioneer, a heavy realist, and a continued force of great magnitude. Our lessons at first largely consisted of discussing music of the 1700s. I first clicked with a jazz legend (to put it lightly), talking about and studying the music of Telemann. Yes, Telemann. I don't even really like Telemann, but the point is, is that we have had some very valuable time together, and I truly feel that it has been a two way street. Roscoe seeks inspiration from all over, and that is how he stays blisteringly relevant. And that to me is very inspiring, because that is how I would like to be moving forward for as long as I am in this.

With that being said, young people like myself having a reliance on institutions for job security, creative and technical advancement (after a certain point), or resources to realize your ideas; is an absolute fucking crapshoot. 

Let me again be very clear, I am speaking on my behalf alone about this, and am in no way passing judgement on, or discouraging anyone, on their pursuits in a career in academic music. I have received a lot of shit from a number of people about my decision to turn down a healthy fellowship to pursue a DMA, and let me say that it is precisely reasons like this that motivated me to step out. If Roscoe Mitchell can't keep his chair at a place like Mills, then what chance does someone like me have of even getting a position?! It is already hard enough to support yourself in the arts, I don't want to couple that with a stress headache of having to secure some shitty adjunct position and climb my way up the ladder, like a good old fashioned rat race. That is why I originally decided to pursue music in the first place, to not be in the rat race. I ultimately felt that I wouldn't gain the knowledge I wanted, in exchange for the work asked for in that pursuit, and that is what school is for, not getting a better job. I had a great talk with Roscoe about my decision, and in classic fashion, he gave me amazing guidance and commentary on that decision. Being a student doesn't end after you graduate. And a sidenote, for those of you who still have an opinion on what is the best decision for me regarding that, I suggest you go get two degrees in music, apply for post-grad school, and go get a doctorate yourself; you have my blessing.

Mills College, as an institution, the administration of it, has to bear the brunt of embarrassment for even considering cutting Roscoe's position. It is a stunning display as to how out of touch the institution really is, an institution that has prided itself on being very outside the box for so long. It is just like everyone else, and it's a sad, sad, sad thing.

We can appeal and write letters and scream and shout about it. And should. But moving forward, nothing can touch Roscoe's legacy, period. No dumbass place can even pretend to have an effect on it. We all know that.

We keep moving forward in the pursuit of bringing new ideas to life, being inspired by all of that around us, and if we can even hope to come remotely close as Roscoe has over all these years, stay blisteringly relevant.

"We don't have the time to be side steppin' here Daniel man..." 

- Roscoe Mitchell

 
 
 

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Yes.

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13 hours ago, jlhoots said:

I wouldn't want to try to live on just my Social Security "benefits", & I'm the same age as Roscoe!!

 

So you're still working too? Man, I hope I don't find myself having to punch a clock at 76. I would like to be able to retire and do what I want, not get up at the crack of dawn, jump in a car and head off to the plant for another day of meetings, spreadsheets and lab excursions.

I sometimes wonder if I'll even be alive at 76. My dad died at 70 and I've already inherited one of his health problems.

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6 hours ago, Kevin Bresnahan said:

So you're still working too? Man, I hope I don't find myself having to punch a clock at 76. I would like to be able to retire and do what I want, not get up at the crack of dawn, jump in a car and head off to the plant for another day of meetings, spreadsheets and lab excursions.

I sometimes wonder if I'll even be alive at 76. My dad died at 70 and I've already inherited one of his health problems.

Thankfully, I'm retired since age 60. Was able to do that because of careful & effective investing. Soc. Security would not be nearly enough.

Edited by jlhoots

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3 hours ago, Kevin Bresnahan said:

So you're still working too? Man, I hope I don't find myself having to punch a clock at 76. I would like to be able to retire and do what I want, not get up at the crack of dawn, jump in a car and head off to the plant for another day of meetings, spreadsheets and lab excursions.

I sometimes wonder if I'll even be alive at 76. My dad died at 70 and I've already inherited one of his health problems.

Same here as I know we about the same age. Despite being broke (and broken) a while back (now maybe more than a while back), I would like a chance to chill out and retire maybe in 10 years or so.

on the subject at hand, it seems ignorant on many levels to pay what might. E excessive administration personnel using that as an excuse to potentially remove a truly great man from his position. Although I'm not connected at all, I would imagine that the giving and plusses Roscoe has provided the community far surpasses whatever monetary salary he's received over the years. Just so ignorant.

Based on the history I read about above on Mills, if any place should know better it should be Mills. 

This coming from someone who probably doesn't agree philosophically or politically with most people here on what should be supported and by whom.

I simply believe that's what right and smart and beneficial to all is to keep Roscoe Mitchell there as long as he wants to be. I simply do not understand how anything other than this makes any sense at all.

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16 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Did you mean to say "Now, when you ask them where most of that rebound ended up...."?

for me most of that rebound ended up liberating me from Maine. Otherwise I would have died a slow and painful death. No joke.

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Average annual tuition/expenses at this place is somewhere between $45,000-$68,000 per year. How the fuck can't you make that work?

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Just came back from hearingThe Trio with Roscoe, George Lewis and Muhal Richard Abrams. (One of 3 concerts I attended  today at the Ojai Music Festival.)  Whatever Roscoe's troubles they aren't interfering with his playing: the concert was beautiful. 

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With maybe one or two exceptions, I've never a musician who wanted to retire or even considered it. 

It might be a financial decision for some but most want to continue to play and teach as long as they are able simply because it's what they do and they couldn't imagine doing anything differently....

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I have not spoken directly with Roscoe today but it seems his chair at Mills is safe. I believe he has 2 more years on his contract.

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Hey, guys-

Sorry for the radio silence on this--I've been on tour and there's been a great deal of vagueness on this issue in the past few days. That being said, it looks like Roscoe is safe! Here's an email I just received (an open letter--many of my colleagues got the same one):

Dear All:

Mills College has decided not to terminate my current three-year 
contract. I would like to take this time to thank everyone for all your 
letters and words of support. I am honored and humbled by the time and 
effort each of you have taken to stand with me, and I’m truly inspired 
by your impassioned, coordinated efforts to loudly proclaim your respect 
for the work being done by myself and my colleagues at Mills. My hope is 
that your actions will pave a way for us all to move forward with 
increasing focus, during this ever-crucial period for music, art, and 
other creative endeavors. I feel that all of you have demonstrated how 
powerful we can be when we contribute our efforts towards a common goal, 
and I encourage each of you to seek out and seize opportunities 
generated in this important era we are now living in.

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had the support of 
teachers, students, musicians, music lovers, and all others who spoke 
out to defend the value of creative music and the arts at-large. That 
said, I would like to acknowledge those of my fellow professors who 
Mills chose to let go, in spite of the outpouring of support for them 
and alternate plans proposed by dedicated individuals seeking a more 
favorable outcome. A great number of you put so much work into trying to 
persuade the college that firings were not a necessary component of 
their Financial Stabilization plan. Again, I want to express how 
grateful I am to you for taking the time to write on our behalf and/or 
show your support at public hearings held at Mills. I truly wish the 
outcome had not left anyone who worked for the college by the wayside.

Though this has proven to be a disruptive period of time for me, I am 
glad to put it behind me and look forward to resuming my work as a 
composer, performer, and pedagogue. I thank all of you for helping to 
provide me with secure footing, so that I may now devote my time to 
practicing, writing, preparing for next year’s classes, and coordinating 
exciting events like the upcoming concert of my new orchestral works at 
the De Young Museum in September. I’m thrilled to see my music performed 
and enjoyed by people like you, who wrote in to make known your passion, 
curiosity, and creativity. I cannot thank each of you enough.

All the best,

Roscoe Mitchell

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On 6/9/2017 at 3:24 PM, catesta said:

Average annual tuition/expenses at this place is somewhere between $45,000-$68,000 per year. How the fuck can't you make that work?

I can't think of a single profession that would justify paying that much for learning it. That being said, mine cost me $120k in student loans...and I graduated 20 years ago. Same program now is north of $300K....insane.   

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1 hour ago, Dmitry said:

I can't think of a single profession that would justify paying that much for learning it. That being said, mine cost me $120k in student loans...and I graduated 20 years ago. Same program now is north of $300K....insane.   

I did 2 years of community college and then lived at home in suburban Philly for the other two years, did UPenn-Wharton for under $10,000 total for the four years (class of '76), owed $700 when I graduated.  Goes about $280,000 for the four years now. Obscene.  Plus they would laugh at me if I applied now with the credentials I had when I applied then (good grades, very good SAT's, nothing else of note).   And FWIW, I was much happier at community college.

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5 hours ago, felser said:

I did 2 years of community college and then lived at home in suburban Philly for the other two years, did UPenn-Wharton for under $10,000 total for the four years (class of '76), owed $700 when I graduated.  Goes about $280,000 for the four years now. Obscene.  Plus they would laugh at me if I applied now with the credentials I had when I applied then (good grades, very good SAT's, nothing else of note).   And FWIW, I was much happier at community college.

My wife was an elementary school teacher and she recommended going to a community college for many of her former students and other young people she met. That can give a foundation for young people who don't know exactly what they want to do - and many don't when they're coming from high school - at a fairly reasonable price. Unfortunately, in the U.S. (and probably elsewhere) everything is about the almighty $ and status these days. It probably always was to some degree, but is even more so now.

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, felser said:

I did 2 years of community college and then lived at home in suburban Philly for the other two years, did UPenn-Wharton for under $10,000 total for the four years (class of '76), owed $700 when I graduated.  Goes about $280,000 for the four years now. Obscene.  Plus they would laugh at me if I applied now with the credentials I had when I applied then (good grades, very good SAT's, nothing else of note).   And FWIW, I was much happier at community college.

Yes, today they'd toss your application aside. I'm sure when you got a job, your Wharton degree was a big factor, though. 

Oh, and I did lie about the cost of my school now. 

Just looked it up,  and It's $92k per year just for the tuition and fees part of it. Add dorm/apartment share, meals, living expenses, and it bumps it up to $115k per year, IF you are really, and I mean REALLY frugal in NYC. That is almost $500,000 for a four-year graduate professional degree. Now, if you add the prerequisite bachelor's degree expenses, that is easily $750k. Un-effing real.

2 hours ago, paul secor said:

My wife was an elementary school teacher and she recommended going to a community college for many of her former students and other young people she met. That can give a foundation for young people who don't know exactly what they want to do - and many don't when they're coming from high school - at a fairly reasonable price. Unfortunately, in the U.S. (and probably elsewhere) everything is about the almighty $ and status these days. It probably always was to some degree, but is even more so now.

My 16 y.o. has no clue what she wants to do...a typical Generation Z...vacuum between the ear pads, stuck in her phone 24/7.  But at least she's not a millennial, with bottle caps in their ears, and tattoos.

 I'm trying to steer her towards healthcare career, physical therapy or something like that. Oh, and she knows that we are not paying for a private school. Our retirement stash in untouchable. Community college sounds perfect for the freshman and sophomore years.

Hell, an electrician or a plumber makes way-way more than someone with a masters degree in women's studies, music appreciation, or literature. This college obsession is so bizarre...

Edited by Dmitry

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1 hour ago, Dmitry said:

Hell, an electrician or a plumber makes way-way more than someone with a masters degree in women's studies, music appreciation, or literature. This college obsession is so bizarre...

True. There is an electrician that works in my neighborhood, I'd say he is in his mid to late 30s and a guy that looks more like he should be working in tech than residential electrical. Anyways, It's just him and an assistant, no other trucks, paid by cash or check, always busy and raking it in. My advice to any that ask is, learn a trade, period.

"The World Needs Ditch Diggers Too." - Judge Smails

 

 

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16 minutes ago, catesta said:

True. There is an electrician that works in my neighborhood, I'd say he is in his mid to late 30s and a guy that looks more like he should be working in tech than residential electrical. Anyways, It's just him and an assistant, no other trucks, paid by cash or check, always busy and raking it in. My advice to any that ask is, learn a trade, period....

 

 

Inclined to agree. Plus, there's now a lot of speculation about jobs and even entire career fields being vulnerable to AI-related automation. Trades seem much less susceptible to that IMO.

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2 hours ago, Dmitry said:

 Oh, and I did lie about the cost of my school now. 

Just looked it up,  and It's $92k per year just for the tuition and fees part of it. Add dorm/apartment share, meals, living expenses, and it bumps it up to $115k per year, IF you are really, and I mean REALLY frugal in NYC. That is almost $500,000 for a four-year graduate professional degree. Now, if you add the prerequisite bachelor's degree expenses, that is easily $750k. Un-effing real.

 

WTF!  My kids went to NYU and Stanford for about half that a few years ago.  And before Stanford my daughter went to McGill for about 10% of that. 

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