Peabody Institute's East Hall will be rededicated Friday as Joe Byrd Hall, in honor of the late jazz bassist and Peabody alumnus. The re-naming of the hall will take place at a concert by the Peabody Jazz Orchestra and honors a gift made to the Peabody Institute by Byrd's widow, Elana Byrd. The gift has also established the Joe Byrd Scholarship in Jazz Studies.
"Joe was so grateful for the education he received at Peabody," Elana Byrd said. "He always felt lucky to have such a long career doing what he loved, and in his memory I am honored to be able to help other young musicians start on that path."
Joe Byrd graduated from the Peabody Conservatory in 1962. In a performing career that spanned more than four decades, Byrd played at the White House for presidents Johnson, Ford, and Carter and traveled to more than 100 countries as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department. The list of jazz luminaries with whom he collaborated is long and includes his eldest brother, guitarist Charlie Byrd; saxophonists Stan Getz and Coleman Hawkins; pianists Teddy Wilson and Mose Allison; singer Jimmy Witherspoon; and guitarist Herb Ellis.
Byrd died on March 6, 2012. He was 78.
"Our students today have the benefit of Joe Byrd's influential work and recordings," Peabody Institute Director Jeffrey Sharkey said, "and now they also have the benefit of his and Elana's generosity to Peabody. Their gift strengthens the jazz studies program here for generations to come."
Friday's concert by the Peabody Jazz Orchestra, directed by Michael Formanek, will feature Brazilian music including works by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Clare Fischer. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance are available by calling the Peabody Box Office at 410-234-4800.