Jazz Violinist, Composer and Educator Regina Carter Joins Faculty at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

2 min read
Regina Carter (photo by Chris Drukker)

Celebrated Musician Carter Brings Her Voice of the Violin to Students of UCLA

Regina Carter, the acclaimed jazz violinist who has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (2007), a Doris Duke Award (2018), and honored as an NEA Jazz Master Fellow (2023), will join The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music faculty in 2024. Carter will teach courses in jazz performance and history and urban musical culture. Her teachings will also offer lessons and masterclasses for School of Music students.

Carter, known for her mastery of the violin across multiple musical genres, is a three-time Grammy Award nominee, most recently for best improvised jazz solo on “Pachamama,” on Thana Alexa’s 2020 album Ona. She was also nominated for best improvised jazz solo in 2018 for “Some of that Sunshine” on Karrin Allyson’s album of the same name, and for best jazz instrumental solo in 2002 for “Fragile,” on Freefall, an album she recorded with pianist Kenny Barron.

 “We are thrilled to welcome Regina Carter,” said Eileen Strempel, inaugural dean of the School of Music. “She has achieved a stellar career by pursuing her passion for excellence and forever taking musical risks. She is the embodiment of what it means to be a twenty-first century musician.”

Carter’s career has continually defied boundaries. She joined the Detroit Civic Symphony at the age of 12 and continued her studies at the New England Conservatory and at Oakland University in Michigan. She moved to New York, where she established herself as a leading jazz violinist. Her self-titled first CD, released in 1995, highlighted her virtuosic talents in R&B-inflected jazz. She has since collaborated with artists and fused styles ranging from Afro-Cuban and southern blues to bebop to European classical music. Carter has also served on the faculties of the New Jersey City University and the Manhattan School of Music.

In 2001 she became the first jazz violinist (and the first Black musician, and the first woman) to perform a concert in Genoa on Niccoló Paganini’s famed (1743) violin, “Il Cannone.” The concert’s critical and popular reception earned Carter international fame, and also led Genoa to take the hitherto unprecedented step of allowing Carter to transport the violin to New York for a concert, and to record her 2003 album, Paganini: After a Dream. 

“Regina Carter is a generational talent, and she practically reinvented jazz violin,” said Steve Loza, professor and chair of global jazz studies at UCLA. “She’s also an accomplished teacher and collaborator, so we are all excited to have her here.”

For Carter, one of the great strengths of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is its twenty-first century curriculum. “The students explore many things in the School of Music,” said Carter. “music theory and practice, sound engineering, world music courses, jazz, all of it. The program doesn’t lock students down. It’s important to get a broad education, in order to be prepared for the real life of a musician.”

Carter believes that the opportunity to extend a hand to the next generation is one of the most important parts of joining the UCLA faculty of the School of Music. “I hope to inspire creative transformations within young musicians,” she said.

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