fb-pixel Skip to main content

Legendary jazz composer Billy Childs to join Berklee as a visiting scholar this fall

Billy ChildsCourtesy Berklee College of Music

Legendary jazz composer, arranger, and pianist Billy Childs will join Berklee College of Music this upcoming academic year as a visiting scholar.

The winner of five Grammy Awards, Childs will be on campus for one week each month to teach advanced jazz composition students. Outside of teaching classes in the Harmony and Jazz Composition Department, he will also coach a student ensemble, work with faculty, and offer master classes that any Berklee affiliate may attend.

Childs will be the inaugural Ken Pullig Visiting Scholar in Jazz Studies, a position named after the former chair of jazz composition. Pullig led the department for over 30 years before he retired in 2012.


“We’re thrilled to have Billy Childs join our community this fall. He is a master musician whose work transcends stylistic boundaries,” Tom Hojnacki, the department’s assistant chair, said in a statement. “Having Billy on campus regularly for the entire academic year will bring an electric energy to an already dynamic program.”

As one of the most well-respected composers and musicians in America today, Childs has been praised for his capacity to beautifully weave together “the musical products of his heritage with the Western neoclassical traditions of the 20th century in a powerful symbiosis of style, range, and dynamism,” his website says.

The 62-year-old Los Angeles native started performing at 6 and was admitted to the University of Southern California’s Community School of the Performing Arts, now known as the Colburn School, at 16. He graduated from USC with a bachelor’s degree in music composition.

Childs was first discovered by jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and has since collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma and Sting. Most recently, his 2017 album “Rebirth” won a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

Sarah Wu can be reached at sarah.wu@globe.com