and directing a jazz studies program at UWMadison's Mead Witter School of Music. When Wallmann arrived on campus in fall 2012, the School of Music had incredible talent in professors Richard Davis, who retired this past spring, and Les Thimmig, as well as several classes and ensembles devoted to the genre. But it lacked an official, comprehensive jazz program, something the school – and philanthropist John Peterson, who provided an endowment gift to name the John and Carolyn Peterson Fund in Jazz Performance – felt was essential. Armed with experience building a jazz studies degree at California State University East Bay, and prior to that teaching at New York University
and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Wallmann began by building upon what already existed here. He formed several new jazz ensembles, added courses and hired several new instructors. The program now offers two undergraduate degrees in jazz studies, as well as graduate coursework in jazz improvisation, history and composition and arranging. “Our approach was to start small, build some things and do them well,” he says, “to build a jazz studies degree that incorporates best practices.” School of Music Director Susan Cook says Wallmann has taken important steps that advance the school.
Johannes Wallmann conducts the UW-Madison Jazz Orchestra during a concert at Union South. (Photo by Sarah Morton)