Shirantha Beddage

June 15, 2008

Eastman Alum, Director of Jazz Studies at Columbus State University, Shirantha Beddage is an emerging talent who is swiftly making his mark as an accomplished multi-reed instrumentalist, pianist and composer. He is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at the Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University (Columbus, Georgia). A native of North Bay, Canada, Shirantha began playing music at an early age, before traveling to Humber College (Toronto) and William Paterson University (New Jersey) for further study. He received his Doctoral Degree in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media in the fall of 2007 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He has performed and recorded extensively with jazz, classical and pop groups in Canada and the United States, including The Temptations, Johnny Mathis and the Brian Lillos / Steve Houghton Jazz Orchestra. His debut CD, “Roots and Branches”, featuring his original compositions, is available nationwide through Jazz Excursion Records.

For more information, visit Shirantha on the web at

What does leadership in the arts mean to you?

Continual development of one’s artistic merit, and the ability to cultivate a high level of proficiency, versatility and marketability in others.

How did the IML serve you in your career aspirations?

The courses that I participated in, particularly Entrepreneurship in Music and Music Leadership, provided me with both the practical knowledge and a conceptual framework to better understand my environment as a performing artist, composer and educator. These courses dealt with current, topical problems that musicians must face in the 21st century, and my professors effectively provided answers to these questions while facilitating group discussions and useful class projects. Above all, the IML courses taught me to be a versatile musician, and to be aware of the musical, social, economic and philosophical issues that surround musicians today.

What are some highlights for you artistically right now?

I am currently the Director of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Theory at the Columbus State University Schwob School of Music, and am currently developing a B.Mus. Jazz Studies degree and a Jazz Festival. It’s an excellent place to work; great faculty, gorgeous facility, and talented, dedicated students. I have also released a CD, “Roots and Branches”, that is now internationally distributed by Jazz Excursion Records, and available online through my website,

Describe the job-seeking process for a higher-ed position.

Overall, my experience was positive, but was also an exercise in patience. I applied for 15 university positions during my final year at Eastman. I endeavored to be prompt with job applications; as soon as a position was advertised, I went for it. When I received the position at Columbus State in May 2006, the Spring semester had ended, so I was awarded a 1-year contract position for the first year. To acquire the tenure-track job, in Fall 2006, I had to re-apply for my own job, and re-interview for my position against other candidates. It was a time-consuming process, but fully worth it!

How do you balance teaching, performing, writing, as well as the non-musical aspects of your life?

Balancing my commitments is very hard, because I have a number of musical interests, and it’s easy for me to get consumed with work. I try to budget my time, set goals for myself, push myself hard every day, exercise, and pray. (A teaching assistant helps, too!) As far as my teaching commitments go, I attempt to complete my grading and prepping at school, and relax when I’m at home. It’s a good theory, but it doesn’t always work!

What artists inspire you?

Again, I’m always in awe of artists that maintain their core sound, while still being versatile performers or composers. I love Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Michael Brecker, and many, many others.

Who’s on your iPod?

Don’t have one; I don’t fare well with tiny, fragile electronic devices. Currently, I’ve been checking out Dave Douglas, Sonny Stitt, Art Tatum, Bob Brookmeyer, and Vince Mendoza.