Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Marian McPartland: Officer of Order of the British Empire

(Sir Alan Collins presents Marian McPartland with the insignia of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.) © Kristen Somody Whalen

On Tuesday evening, British jazz pianist Marian McPartland was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her services to jazz and to aspiring young musicians in the United States. At the ceremony, McPartland was presented with the insignia by Sir Alan Collins, Her Majesty's Consul General, New York. Also present was Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the U.K.'s Permanent Representative to the U.N.

Sir Alan said, "Marian truly is an ambassador for jazz, and for the U.K., and I am delighted to be giving her the badge of the Order of the British Empire on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. This is a richly-deserved honor." Sir Alan passed on the congratulations of Sir Nigel Sheinwald, British Ambassador to the U.S.

"I am exceedingly proud to have received this great honor bestowed on me by Queen Elizabeth," said McPartland. "I am truly grateful, and I wish a very happy birthday to the Queen."

Among McPartland's guests at the New York ceremony were Todd Barkan, Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes, Helen Merrill, Michael Feinstein, and Ellie Shearing, who conveyed congratulations from her husband George Shearing.

Marian McPartland has had a long and distinguished career as a jazz pianist and composer, and as writer, educator, and radio presenter.

Raised in the south of England, Marian moved to the U.S. after meeting her future husband Jimmy McPartland in Belgium, where she was entertaining Allied troops with her vaudeville act during World War II. After spending time in Chicago with his traditional jazz quintet, Marian and her husband moved to New York. Greeted on their first day in New York by Louis Armstrong, they became ensconced in New York's jazz scene.

In addition to her extraordinary achievements as a musician and composer, performing across the world and making over 60 recordings, Marian McPartland has showcased the work of other jazz icons from Dizzy Gillespie to Herbie Hancock on her radio show "Marion McPartland's Piano Jazz." Now National Public Radio's longest-running cultural show, "Piano Jazz" has been on the air since 1978 and reaches listeners worldwide.

The U.K. honors system recognizes exceptional achievement and service to the nation. Past New York-based honorees have included Glenda Bailey, Editor of Harper's Bazaar; Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York; and actor Jim Dale.

No comments: