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Nicole Mitchell

Pittsburgh, PA         

Nicole Mitchell is an award-winning creative flutist, composer, conceptualist, bandleader, and educator. A United States Artist (2020), Doris Duke Artist (2012) and recipient of the Herb Alpert Award (2011), her research centers on the powerful legacy of contemporary African American culture and black experimental art. For over 20 years, Mitchell’s critically acclaimed Black Earth Ensemble (BEE) has been her primary compositional laboratory with which she has recorded 10 albums and performed at festivals and art venues throughout Europe, Canada, and the US. An emeritus president of the AACM, she composes for contemporary ensembles of varied instrumentation and size (from solo to orchestra and big band) while incorporating improvisation and a wide aesthetic expression. Her recognition as a 2018 recipient of the Champion of New Music Award from the American Composers Forum and the 2019 Women In Jazz Visionary Award from the Jazz Institute of Chicago are positive responses to her community impact. Much of Mitchell’s creative process has been informed by literature and narrative, with a special interest in science fiction. Her album, Mandorla Awakening (FPE, 2017), combined Afrofuturism with intercultural collaboration and was selected by the New York Times as the #1 jazz album of 2017. As a composer, she has been commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Newport Jazz Festival, the Art Institute of Chicago, the French American Jazz Exchange, Chamber Music America, Jazztopad Festival (Wroclaw), the Chicago Jazz Festival, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and the Chicago Sinfonietta. As a flutist she has developed her own signature language and has been a repeated recipient of the Top Jazz Flutist awards from Jazz Journalists Association and DownBeat Magazine from 2010-2019. Mitchell’s mission is to celebrate the power of endless possibility by “creating visionary worlds through music that bridge the familiar and the unknown.” She is the William S. Dietrich II Chair for Jazz Studies at University of Pittsburgh, where she works to continue the visionary legacies of her predecessors Geri Allen and Nathan Davis. Mitchell was previously a professor of music at University of California, Irvine.


An excerpt from “When Life’s Door Opens” for orchestra, three vocalists and improvisers by Nicole M. Mitchell. Performed live by the Tri-Centric Orchestra at the Roulette (NY) April 2013, featuring Damon Locks spoken word, Fay Victor vocals, Josh Stinton bass clarinet, Vincent Chancey french horn and Jason Hwang violin.

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