Ike Sturm

January 17, 2010

The following interview highlights ways in which Ike’s participation in the Arts Leadership Program and the lessons he learned in his time at Eastman helped prepare him for a diverse musical career as bassist, composer, bandleader, and music director.

Why did the Arts Leadership Program interest you?

The ALP curriculum projected an awareness of the immediate and realistic needs of musicians and their diverse career paths.

Did the ALP change and/or enhance your outlook on your potential career?

Students constantly face difficult choices, information and an unpredictable schedule, challenges that seem only to multiply in your career.  Understanding the practical needs taught by ALP classes equips musicians to create and maintain opportunities that fulfill creative goals.

How did your ALP experience influence/affect your life as a musician?

I found my positive ALP experience to be only an introduction to what I hope will be a lifelong education, always open to thoughts and skills that will communicate clearly in the world.

What challenges face young musicians today, and what are some vital skills that could help overcome those challenges?

I believe one’s craft remains the most important focus in an artist’s career, however we are called to be increasingly creative and knowledgeable about finding ways to sustain life as a musician.  My current job requires many of the things that I trained for during school, as well as all sorts of things that I would never have imagined. Along with being a bassist, composer and bandleader, I work as the music director for jazz at Saint Peter’s Church in NYC. I find it to be an amazing mix of my personal interests and the things I prepared for in school. It’s an example of an option I didn’t even know existed until I had immersed myself in the New York music scene; jumping into a new environment and facing its demands can open the door to career options you may have not thought possible.

What does an ALP certificate bring to an artist?

I feel that the ALP makes the critical effort of developing the unique strengths of individuals in an ever-evolving field.  In addition, creative and specialized course offerings are made available to musicians who are developing a vision for their career, leading artists towards realizing their goals.

What exciting things are on the docket for you?

Saint Peter’s Church recently commissioned me to compose a Jazz Mass for choir, strings and jazz septet. The album was recorded at Avatar Studios in New York and features Misty Ann Sturm, Loren Stillman, Ingrid Jensen, Ryan Ferreira, Adam Benjamin, Ted Poor and GRAMMY nominee Donny McCaslin in a large-scale work including choir and string orchestra.

The project will be traveling internationally to schools and churches, working with local choirs and orchestras and exploring the idea of community in music, culture and faith.  Each time we perform, we will raise funds and awareness for Lutheran World Hunger and ONE, raising our voices and resources in the fight against extreme hunger and poverty.

For more information and to purchase Jazz Mass, please visit:

Ike Sturm – Biography

Ike Sturm is a bassist, composer and bandleader in New York. He serves as Music Director for the Jazz Ministry at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan (the “Jazz Church”), celebrating a deep tradition of weekly jazz services and memorializing visionaries such as Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

Ike has performed with many gifted musicians including Gene Bertoncini, Donny McCaslin, Bobby McFerrin, Ben Monder, Ingrid Jensen, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler. He has played on four Downbeat award-winning recordings as well as Steve Reich’s releases on Canteloupe and Nonesuch Records. He has appeared with Alarm Will Sound and Signal and plays regularly with creative bands in New York.

Ike studied jazz and classical bass and composition while earning Bachelors and Masters Degrees at the Eastman School of Music. In addition, he drew inspiration from studies with legendary bassist Dave Holland.

Saint Peter’s Church recently commissioned Ike to compose a Jazz Mass for choir, strings and jazz septet. The studio recording features chamber choir and orchestra with Misty Ann Sturm, Loren Stillman, Ingrid Jensen, Ryan Ferreira, Adam Benjamin, Ted Poor and GRAMMY nominee Donny McCaslin. The project was released in November and will begin touring in early 2010.

“I have always loved the emotional heights and depths that can be revealed through voices and strings. To hear these sounds combine with some of my favorite improvisers is a great gift, especially while expressing texts that are sacred to me.” – Ike Sturm