Acclaimed jazz musician joins NU faculty

Phillip Swarts

The School of Music has hired jazz musician Victor L. Goines to head its Jazz Studies program starting in Fall 2008, following a two-year search for a new director.

“Northwestern represents one of the highest levels of standards in the music industry today in education, so when that opportunity knocked, I saw the opportunity to answer,” Goines said.

Goines, 46, said the chief thing he hopes to accomplish after arriving as director is to add a sense of stability to the jazz program, something that has been missing during a tumultuous two-year period of staff firings, student protests, and searches for a new director.

After stability, Goines said he wants to establish a presence for the jazz studies program on campus.

Goines’ appointment has been met with praise from students.

“It definitely feels good to win, so to speak, the fight that’s been going on,” said Benjamin Zoll, a sophomore music-economics double major. “He’s a great guy, and a great director I’m sure. I’m sure he’ll do wonderful things for the program once he starts.”

The New Orleans native was born in 1961, and began playing the clarinet at age 8. Goines said one of his clarinet teachers taught at Northwestern.

Goines recently left his position as artistic director of the jazz program at Juilliard, stating that he wanted to focus more on his performance and playing. Although he was happy simply performing, Goines said, he welcomed the chance to come to Northwestern.

“Opportunities come at times when you don’t always expect them, and when they knock, you have to decide whether you’re going to answer the door to them or not answer the door,” Goines said. “This opportunity knocked at a time that I was willing to get back into education.”

Proximity to Chicago is another amenity that the university offers, and Goines said he wants to take full advantage of it. He said he wants to meet and interact with local musicians, some of whom he already knows, and to do some performing himself.

“It’s a great scene,” Goines said of Chicago. “It’s one of the great vectors for music around the United States and in the world, so I plan on being part of the scene.”

School of Music senior Josh Moshier said he used to listen to Goines’ music, and that Goines is among the “higher caliber” of people who could have taken the job.

“I hope that Northwestern will continue to be a cultural asset to the Chicago jazz community rather than an asset because of the jazz community,” Moshier said. “I think he’s a fantastic musician,” he added.

Reach Phillip Swarts at [email protected]