Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble plays music by winners of the IAWM/PJCE Jazz Composition prize
Featuring Migiwa Miyajima, Samantha Spear, Jhoely Garay, Yu Nishiyama and Eliana Fishbeyn.

View program notes for Alliance here.

Since 2018, the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) awards an annual Jazz Composition Prize co-sponsored by PJCE. Through this partnership, PJCE has been introduced to up-and-coming composers across the country. At 7:00 pm on Saturday, January 28, 2023 in Portland State University’s Lincoln Recital Hall, PJCE will perform music by all five of the winning composers: Jhoely Garay (NYC), Migiwa Miyajima (NYC), Yu Nishiyama (NYC), Sam Spear (Boston), and Eliana Fishbeyn (NYC), all lauded instrumentalists and band leaders in their own right.  Surrounding Alliance, guest composers will work with area university students and the PJCE ensmeble will be performing the works at Lower Columbia College.

The concert on January 28th at PSU will be followed by a Q&A with three of the guest composers moderated by IAWM President Christina Rusnak.

About the artists:

Hailing from Japan, Migiwa “Miggy” Miyajima is a composer, producer, pianist, and bandleader of the 17-piece Miggy Augmented Orchestra. She creates large-scale works manifesting her distinct life experiences. Birdland Jazz Club says, “Miyajima’s music reflects her journey as a musician and humanitarian.” Formerly editor-in-chief of a magazine in Japan, Miyajima trusted the power of music and became a full-time musician at the age of 30. Four years later, she was made associate producer for the Grammy-winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Her work with the group brought her two Grammy nominations. 

Jhoely Garay is a guitarist, composer, and arranger from Mexico City, Mexico. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in jazz guitar performance from The City College of New York in 2020. Garay is mentored by Dee Dee Bridgewater and has studied and collaborated with iconic artists such as Steve Wilson, Ted Nash, Peter Bernstein, Jim McNeely, Mike Holober, and Scott Reeves, among others. Garay is a four-time winner of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation scholarship and the Austin and Florence Kaye Foundation scholarship. 

Originally from Yokohama, Japan, Yu Nishiyama is a jazz saxophonist and composer. She first began playing piano at the age of 5 and picked up saxophone at age 14. She graduated from Senzoku Gakuen High School in Japan, and came to the United States to study jazz saxophone with Brad Leali at the University of North Texas. While at UNT, Yu wrote arrangements and original compositions for the UNT O’Clock Lab Band and other ensembles. She received her master’s degree in jazz composition and arranging at William Paterson University studying with Cecil Bridgewater and Ed Neumeister.

Sam Spear is a woodwind instrumentalist, composer, and music educator based in Boston, MA. She has performed with a host of the city’s finest jazz musicians including Allan Chase, Josh Rosen, and Bill Banfield, among others. Her four-part work for jazz orchestra Survivor’s Suite was awarded the 2019 Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble Prize. Spear is passionate about music education and works with students across greater Boston from middle school beginning wind players to undergraduate music majors. She was recently appointed to the faculty of Berklee College of Music as an assistant professor of Contemporary Writing and Production. 

Eliana Fishbeyn comes from an immigrant Russian-Jewish family, where her mother, aunt and grandmother started her musical upbringing at an early age. At age 6, she began classical piano lessons with John Ruggero, to whom she owes much of her musical understanding. She received her bachelors degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and in spring of 2022 graduated with her masters degree in jazz composition at Manhattan School of Music, studying with an important mentor figure and influence on her, Jim McNeely. She currently lives in New York with her partner, John Thorp, a PhD student in cognitive neuroscience at Columbia University. Starting in fall of 2021, she and fellow composer, Robert Buonaspina, have organized regular meetings of a large ensemble that workshops, rehearses, and performs new music on a semi-regular basis.

Ensemble musicians include:

Jessika Smith, alto sax and flute; Mieke Bruggeman, bari sax and bass clarinet; Mary Sue Tobin soprano sax; Tim Wilcox, tenor sax; Adriana Wagner, trombone; Chris Shuttleworth, trombone; Noah Simpson, trumpet; Paul Mazzio, trumpet; Eric Gruber, bass; Kerry Politzer, piano; Meg Morrow, drums; Ryan Meagher, guitar.