November 22, 2017

Winnipeg
-10° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Jazz prof who left U of M amid concerns that were 'sexual in nature' hired by renowned U.S. school

A former jazz professor at the University of Manitoba who quietly resigned this summer has been hired by one of the most prestigious music schools in the world — which says it didn’t know he left Winnipeg under a cloud of concerns described as “sexual in nature.”

Steve Kirby, who was director of jazz studies in the Desautels Faculty of Music before leaving the job June 27, was recently hired by the Berklee College of Music.

The Boston college is best known for its jazz and modern American music programs and boasts famous alumni including Diana Krall, Bruce Cockburn, John Mayer, Quincy Jones, Branford Marsalis, Melissa Etheridge and Donald Fagen. The college’s website says 114 of its alumni have garnered 275 Grammy Awards for their musical contributions.

However, Jay Kennedy, Berklee vice-president for academic affairs and vice-provost, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon, “the college just recently learned of these reports.”

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 455 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

Hope you enjoyed your trial.

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 455 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

A former jazz professor at the University of Manitoba who quietly resigned this summer has been hired by one of the most prestigious music schools in the world — which says it didn’t know he left Winnipeg under a cloud of concerns described as "sexual in nature."

Steve Kirby, who was director of jazz studies in the Desautels Faculty of Music before leaving the job June 27, was recently hired by the Berklee College of Music.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Steve Kirby, seen here performing with the band Jazz on Wheels in 2015 in Winnipeg, has been hired by the Berklee College of Music.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Steve Kirby, seen here performing with the band Jazz on Wheels in 2015 in Winnipeg, has been hired by the Berklee College of Music.

The Boston college is best known for its jazz and modern American music programs and boasts famous alumni including Diana Krall, Bruce Cockburn, John Mayer, Quincy Jones, Branford Marsalis, Melissa Etheridge and Donald Fagen. The college’s website says 114 of its alumni have garnered 275 Grammy Awards for their musical contributions.

However, Jay Kennedy, Berklee vice-president for academic affairs and vice-provost, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon, "the college just recently learned of these reports."

"We take seriously allegations of any type of sexual misconduct. Berklee is committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all members of our community and will continue to gather information on this matter."

The Free Press confirmed Tuesday the 61-year-old Kirby, who came to the university in 2003, had suddenly resigned this summer. When contacted, the university would only confirm Kirby, a bassist who earlier in his career performed and recorded with some of the modern giants in jazz including Wynton Marsalis, Elvin Jones, and Abbey Lincoln, had retired in June.

However, a source who spoke to the Free Press said the university met earlier this summer with several female students to look into concerns described as "sexual in nature."

John Danakas, U of M executive director of public affairs, said Wednesday any investigation it may make into complaints against a staff member has to remain confidential because of provincial privacy laws.

As well, Danakas said under the institution’s respectful work and learning environment policy and its sexual-assault policy, the university cannot confirm whether a complaint has been made nor whether it is investigating a staff member, in order to protect confidentiality for all parties.

Danakas said the policies were developed after consultation with the university community. "Ongoing awareness-building and education ensure that individuals understand the options available to them and how to report any incidents."

He verified neither the university’s human resources department nor its faculty of music office have been asked by any institution for a reference regarding Kirby.

During his years in Winnipeg, Kirby became a force in the local jazz community, not only playing concerts or with arts organizations such as the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, but also as editor of dig!, a local jazz magazine, and serving as artistic director of the Izzy Asper Jazz Performances.

Kirby is scheduled to play Sept. 30 at a session for the Winnipeg International Writers Festival. No one from the festival could be reached for comment Wednesday.

An email sent to subscribers of the Asper jazz series by Jeffrey Morry, senior program director of the Asper Foundation, and Debbie Figowy, cultural arts and adult services program co-ordinator of the Rady Jewish Community Centre, says Kirby had gone to Berklee to join its jazz composition department. Neither Morry nor Figowy could be reached Wednesday for comment.

"We are confident that you agree Steve has made a huge contribution to the growth of the jazz scene in Winnipeg," the email says. "His vision and leadership have been vital to the success of our series. He was and is much-loved and will be greatly missed. We wish him well in his new position and hope he will return to visit often."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Kevin Rollason.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.