David Ake takes over as Director of School of the Arts

Accomplished jazz pianist, composer and author

8/26/2011 - By: Claudene Wharton
David Ake David Ake, director of the School of the Arts at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Liberal Arts. Photo by Theresa Danna-Douglas.

The University’s College of Liberal Arts has named accomplished jazz musician and associate professor of music David Ake the director of its School of the Arts. 

In addition to teaching at the University, Ake maintains an active career as a jazz pianist and composer. Some of his work includes a solo piano CD In Between (2005) and most recently, The Dark, the debut album from the group EEA, consisting of Ake (on piano) and fellow Nevada music professors Peter Epstein (saxophonist) and Larry Engstrom (on trumpet). He is also a member of The Collective, a creative and distinctive jazz ensemble that includes Engstrom and Epstein, as well as music department colleagues drummer Andrew Heglund and bassist Hans Halt.

Ake has also published extensively, including the books, Jazz Culture, in 2002, and Jazz Matters, in 2010, in which he lends his perspective to post-1940s jazz.

Ake has earned high honors for his teaching in the music department, being the recipient of the 2010 Regents’ Teaching Award, the University’s 2009 F. Donald Tibbitts Distinguished Teaching Award, and the College of Liberal Arts’ 2002 Mousel-Feltner Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity.

“The University is very fortunate that David Ake has accepted this new role,” said Scott Casper, interim dean of the University’s College of Liberal Arts. “As an award-winning teacher, highly respected scholar and accomplished musician, he embodies the very best of what the School of the Arts does.”

Ake holds a Ph.D. in musicology and a master’s degree in ethnomusicology, the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts. He said that he sees the appointment as director of the School of the Arts as an opportunity to help shape the direction the school is going, as well as let the community and region know more about the school.

“We have truly world-class artists and scholars here,” he said. “We need to remind ourselves and the community how talented our faculty and students are, and how much they have to contribute to the arts and culture of the region.”

Ake said that making and experiencing art really involves the overlapping of various art forms – visual art, music, theater, dance – and he looks forward to emphasizing those connections and sharing them with audiences in his new role with the School of the Arts.

Ake has set a meeting for noon, Sept. 6 in Nightingale Hall in the Church Fine Arts Building for all those interested in learning more about the School of the Arts and discussing its future. All are welcome.

Colleague Larry Engstrom, the school’s former director, stepped down from the position to spend more time teaching at the school, and continues to serve as the director of the Reno Jazz Festival as well.


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