Wynton Marsalis is the Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and a world-renowned trumpeter, bandleader and composer. Born in New Orleans in 1961, he began his classical training on trumpet at age 12, entered The Juilliard School at age 17, and soon after joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
He made his recording debut as a leader in 1982, and has since recorded more than 80 jazz and classical recordings, which have won him nine GRAMMY® awards and sold over 7 million copies worldwide. In 1983, he became the first and only artist to win both classical and jazz GRAMMYs® in the same year, repeating the distinction the following year. Today Marsalis is the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards® in five consecutive years (1983-1987).
Marsalis is an internationally respected educator, a leading advocate of American culture, and a recipient of honorary doctorates from more than 25 of America’s top academic institutions including Yale, Columbia, Harvard, Howard, and Princeton. He has authored six books including: Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits; Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life; and Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!. In 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz artist to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his oratorio Blood on the Fields.
His creativity has been celebrated the world over. Marsalis was appointed Messenger of Peace by Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations; and named a Cultural Ambassador for Jazz by the U.S. State Department. He has received The National Medal of Arts from the U.S. government; Honorary Membership to the Royal Academy of Music, Britain’s senior conservatoire; the rank of Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature from the French Ministry of Culture, and France’s highest distinction, the insignia Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. In 2016, President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Humanities.
Marsalis was instrumental in the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief concert, an event produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center that raised more than $3 million to benefit the musicians, music industry related enterprises, and other individuals and entities from the Greater New Orleans areas most affected by Hurricane Katrina. He also helped lead the effort to construct Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home— Frederick P. Rose Hall—the first education, performance, and broadcast facility devoted to jazz, which opened its doors in 2004.
In 2014 Marsalis became Director of Jazz Studies at The Juilliard School. It is his commitment to the improvement of life for all people that portrays the best of his character and humanity. Wynton Marsalis makes his Cabrillo Festival debut as composer-in-residence with two works on the final night of the 2019 season, Sunday, August 11: Concerto in D for violin and orchestra, featuring Nicola Benedetti; and the West Coast premiere of his Blues Symphony.