Always at the forefront of world culture, technology, business and music, legendary pianist and composer Herbie Hancock has been named the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry. Hosted by the Mahindra Humanities Center, Hancock will give six Norton Lectures in a series titled “The Ethics Of Jazz” in February and March. The series follows Hancock’s receipt of a Kennedy Center Honor in December 2013.
“The Ethics Of Jazz” will examine topics including “The Wisdom Of Miles Davis,” “Breaking The Rules,” “Cultural Diplomacy And The Voice Of Freedom,” and “Innovation And New Technologies.” Hancock will draw upon his five decades of experiences as a musician, composer, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, tireless innovator, and father.
“It is a great privilege to welcome Herbie Hancock as the Norton Professor,” said Homi Bhabha, director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. “His unsurpassed contribution to the history of music has revolutionized our understanding of the ways in which the arts transform our civic consciousness and our spiritual aspirations. It would be no exaggeration to say that he has defined cultural innovation in each decade of the last half century.”
Herbie Hancock has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet that pioneered a groundbreaking sound in jazz, he also developed new approaches on his own recordings, followed by his work in the ’70s – with record-breaking albums such as “Headhunters” – that combined electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music.
Hancock received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and 14 Grammy Awards. He currently serves as Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and as Institute Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
Established in 1925, the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship of Poetry has been awarded to important figures from across the arts. Past Norton Professors have included T.S. Eliot, Igor Stravinsky, Jorge Luis Borges, Charles Eames, Leonard Bernstein, John Cage, Nadine Gordimer, Orhan Pamuk, and William Kentridge.
The 2014 Norton Lectures will take place at Sanders Theatre at Harvard University on Feb. 3, Feb. 12, Feb. 27, March 10, March 24, and March 31. Lectures begin at 4 p.m. and are open to the public, but will be ticketed. Tickets will be available at the Sanders Theatre box office starting at noon the day of each lecture, or through the Harvard Box Office site.
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