CCM Jazz student shares talents in new music and arts advocacy

Watch Jazz Orchestra students perform Myles Twitty's arrangement of Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit"

The local artists of Cincinnati make the city special and unique, offering residents and visitors alike plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music, museums and arts. Although restrictions brought on by the pandemic took a toll on the music community, many musicians are creating new works and sharing them in new ways. Cincinnati Magazine recently spotlighted five "up-and-coming" artists who are sharing new works, including UC College-Conservatory of Music Jazz Studies student Myles Twitty.

Twitty performs frequently at Over-the-Rhine's Nostalgia Wine and Jazz Lounge with his Myles Ellington Twitty (MET) Quartet. The third-year CCM student plays the trumpet in this ensemble, and often makes arrangements for the group — including a jazzy version of "Jingle Bells."

Twitty is also known to arrange pieces for the CCM Jazz Orchestra. His arrangement of Abel Meeropol's “Strange Fruit,” a signature song of Billie Holiday's, was performed by the CCM Jazz Orchestra and recently featured in CCM's Moveable Feast: From Coast to Coast virtual fundraiser. The performance features student artists Maya Threat, vocals; Ricky Roshell, tenor saxophone; Myles Twitty, trumpet; Anthony Bryson, trombone; Chris Caporale, piano; Mason Daugherty, bass; and Derek Johnson, drums.

Video link:

“Being a performer, so often you’re playing other people’s music, which is fine, and I love it, but it’s really exciting when you can see your vision come together with such a talented cast of musicians,” Twitty says.

In addition to the accomplishment of releasing music this year, Twitty was crowned Mr. Kuamka (Swahili for “in the beginning”) by UC's African American Cultural Resource Center (AACRC), and was appointed Vice President of the CCM Black Student Association. In both of those roles he works to introduce Black youth to the arts, with the hope of increasing cultural richness, spiritual and mental health in their lives — a platform he named “Melanin in Music."

While performances were less frequent in the past year, Twitty was able to focus on his other passion — education. He works with many organizations including the Greater Cincinnati Youth Jazz Orchestra, Cincinnati Public Schools Jazz Academy, Jersey’s Jazz House Kids Summer Workshop, and Cincinnati Public Schools, where he teaches at an after-school jazz program.

Aside from the instruction and training that he received form CCM, Twitty is grateful for the community that he has found at the school.

“My experience at CCM was really defined through my experience with the CCM Black Student Association. Through that organization, I’ve been able to develop a strong sense of community as well as helping me feel more welcome in the University. I’ve made some life-long friends through this group.”

Craving more digital performances? Check out CCM's digital performance seriesThe college's latest release features the Ariel Quartet with CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows Cristian Diaz and Denielle Wilson. Find this performance and more on the CCM website and YouTube channel.

Featured image at the top: Myles Twitty performing his arrangement of "Strange Fruit" with the CCM Jazz Orchestra at Moveable Feast on Jan. 22, 2021. 

Headshot of Kelly Barefield

Kelly Barefield

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Kelly Barefield is pursuing her degree in Arts Administration at CCM. She currently interns at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and hopes to continue to work at influential arts organizations in the future, where she can apply her passion for music.