Fellows Friday: Q&A with Greg Osby

Fellows Friday: Q&A with Greg Osby

Greg Osby, 2012 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

As part of our “Fellows Friday” web feature, we focus on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges. This week, we speak to 2012 Pew Fellow Greg Osby, an award-winning contemporary jazz musician and the recipient of such honors as a Doris Duke Composition Fellowship and the Chamber Music America Composers Award. In May 2014, National Public Radio included Osby in its list, “Take 75: Great Solos in Blue Note Records History.” He recently performed with Center grantee PRISM Quartet as part of a concert and recording series called Music for Saxophones: Heritage/Evolution.

How does residing in this region contribute to your artistic practice?

I’m able to pursue my work and realize concepts without the hindrance of excessive congestion or sensory overload. I can work at my own pace and I also have easy access to New York without having to live there exclusively.

If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?

I would live with a blank canvas. Nothing is more powerful to me than the idea of wonder and possibility, which a blank canvas represents. Once a work has been established and fixed, vulnerability sets in.

What do you miss most from your childhood?

I miss the idea of true innocence, when one could embark on a journey without a clear destination—without fear or concern. I also miss a time when there was more tolerance and cooperation between the various art fields. There was far more risk taking, experimentation, and fearless attempts to create new and innovative works. I feel that artists, as a whole, are more cautious these days in their efforts, so as to not offend.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

Initially, I aspired to be an architect. Many of those leanings have found their way into my work.


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