Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

  • A woman sits in a wooden chair with her shoulders resting on the back, right arm draped across her abdomen and left arm bent upward with her hand resting on her left temple. “Veronica Swift is on a fast track to stardom.” Theater Pizzazz
  • A woman looks languidly at the camera as she holds her left hand up to her chin. “A master class on space and dynamics.” JazzTimes
  • A woman wearing a buttoned-up suit and with eyes closed sings into a microphone while outstretching her left arm. “She morphs from blues to ballads to swing putting her own unique stamp on each.” Theater Pizzazz

Veronica Swift
with The Emmet Cohen Trio

7:30 pm Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Center for the Performing Arts season begins with a concert featuring two millennial artists, singer Veronica Swift and pianist Emmet Cohen, who are making waves in jazz.

Before graduating with a degree in jazz vocal performance from the University of Miami, Swift had already taken second place (2015) in the influential Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. She also had previously recorded three albums (two by age 13), headlined the Telluride Jazz Festival, and performed in Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center.

Swift, who moved to New York City after college, sings most Saturday nights at the renowned Birdland jazz club. Her repertoire is built on the Great American Songbook, plus bebop and vocalese classics, but she is also passionate about music from the 1920s and 1930s.

The vocalist’s parents, jazz singer and educator Stephanie Nakasian and the late jazz pianist Hod O’Brien, took her on tour when she was younger. She sang with her family at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., the Jazz Standard in New York City, The Great Waters Music Festival in New Hampshire, and other venues. She also has appeared on stage with Jon Hendricks, Esperanza Spalding, Joe Lovano, Danilo Perez, Benny Green, and others.

“It’s not often you hear one so young interpret the sounds of a seasoned jazz performer and make everything she touches her own,” writes a reviewer for Variety. “That’s Veronica Swift.” The vocalist is “an adept lyrical interpreter” who delivers “a master class on space and dynamics,” according to a JazzTimes writer.

A powerful and charismatic performer, Cohen is a former prodigy who began playing piano at age 3. His “nimble touch, measured stride, and warm harmonic vocabulary indicate he’s above any convoluted technical showmanship,” writes a reviewer for DownBeat.

The pianist, who has a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a bachelor’s from the University of Miami, won the American Jazz Pianists competition in 2014 and was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition in 2011.

In addition to leading The Emmet Cohen Trio, he is a member of Christian McBride’s trio Tip City, the Ali Jackson Trio, and the Herlin Riley Quartet. He also performs regularly with Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, Jimmy Heath, Kurt Elling, and others.

Cohen is the force behind the Masters Legacy Series, a set of recordings and interviews honoring legendary jazz musicians. The ongoing project seeks to provide musicians of multiple generations a forum to transfer the unwritten folklore that is America’s unique musical idiom.

Artistic Viewpoints will not be offered before this performance.

Adult $38
University Park Student $15
18 and Younger $28