The 110th Anniversary of Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington’s 110th on 110th

Harlem, NY, April 20, 2009 –(–
On April 29, 2009, at 1:10 p.m., Duke Ellington’s family and The Duke
Ellington Center for the Arts will be launching a series of activities
to commemorate and celebrate the 110th Anniversary of Duke Ellington.

kickoff affair will be held at The Duke Ellington Memorial, located
inside Duke Ellington Circle, on 110th Street and 5th Avenue in
Manhattan. Open to the public, the program will feature tributes to The
Duke, followed by a brass band and second line procession through
Central Park.

Members of the performing arts community, friends,
local dignitaries and students from neighborhood schools along with
well-wishers from all walks of life are expected to join the Ellington
family and board members of The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts for
their announcement of the yearlong anniversary season—which will
include numerous events in New York, across the U.S. and over 250
festivals around the world.

It is common knowledge that Duke
Ellington was the most prolific composer on earth during the twentieth
century. This applies both in terms of the number of compositions and
the variety of forms. His development was one of the most spectacular
in the history of music—underscored by more than fifty years of
sustained achievement as an artist and entertainer. He is considered by
many, worldwide, to be America’s greatest composer, bandleader and
recording artist.

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29,
1899 to May 24, 1974) was, without question, the most significant
figure in jazz and, in fact, all American music. Regarded in his
lifetime as the most influential contributor to our music culture, he
received in 1966 the President’s Gold Medal from Lyndon Johnson and in
1969 the Medal of Freedom from President Nixon. After his death,
recognition for The Duke actually increased—including a special award
citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board in 1999.

The Duke
Ellington Memorial is located at Duke Ellington Circle on Central
Park’s northeast corner. The sculpture of Edward Kennedy Ellington at
110th Street and Fifth Avenue is the first monument in New York City
dedicated to an African American and the first memorial to The Duke in
the United States.

The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts is a
not-for-profit organization formed by Mercedes Ellington—the eldest of
only four surviving descendants of Duke Ellington. The Center is
coordinating the 110th Anniversary of Duke Ellington under the theme
“110 Years Duke!” and is collaborating with several other organizations
and entities throughout this momentous year of festivities.