(Posted October 6, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Paul Winter, world-renowned musician and groundbreaking environmental performer, will play a benefit concert at Juniata College at 8:15 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11 in Rosenberger Auditorium in Oller Hall on the Juniata campus. Winter, a native of Altoona with deep roots in central Pennsylvania, was the first musician to perform at the College as part of its Artist Series in 1963.

Winter agreed to take part in an informal question-and-answer interview via telephone at his home in Connecticut.

Juniata College: Do you recall the concert you played here in 1963 and what brought you to Juniata College to perform back then?

Paul Winter: ?That concert was our first concert that we played before a college audience after participating in a tour for the U.S. State Department in 1963. So it was a beginning for us, and a beginning for Juniata.?

J.C.: The Paul Winter Sextet had experienced a fair amount of success very early in your career, right?

P.W.: ?Yes, the Sextet was founded at Northwestern University, where I graduated in 1961. In college we won the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival. We were then signed to a recording contract at Columbia Records. Almost right after that, we were asked to take part in a tour of 23 Latin American countries sponsored by the State Department.?

J.C.: Was that tour was sort of the gateway to the music you love to play today?

P.W.: ?We thought of ourselves as a bebop jazz group but we incorporated Brazilian and Latin American music into our repertoire. When we returned to the U.S. we released a very popular album called ?Jazz Meets the Bossa Nova.? Because of that exposure we were asked to perform at the White House by an invitation from then-first lady Jackie Kennedy.?

J.C.: Before playing the 1963 concert at Juniata had you performed with the Sextet locally?

P.W.: ?Oh yes, I always looked for opportunities to play on my home turf. I had played on the Juniata campus several times before. I had performed several times at faculty parties with my dance band that I had played with in Altoona. I have fond memories of getting that performance experience at Juniata. I?ve been back many times since then and I delivered the commencement address in 1996.?

J.C.: Will you be playing anything inspired by our local experience?

P.W.: ?We will definitely play ?Appalachian Morning? and perhaps something from my ?Altoona America? concert.?

J.C.: Have you had a chance to explore Juniata?s campus to see how the college has grown over the years?

P.W.: ?When I returned to Huntingdon this summer, the former president of Juniata, Bob Neff and I went up to visit the Peace Chapel (designed by architect Maya Lin) and I found it very inspiring and very beautiful. I am working on a new performance idea called The World Tree. It?s a participatory musical and dance celebration in which the musicians and performers play in a ring of eight stages at the center of which is the World Tree, an aluminum spiral sound sculpture that has bells, gongs and chimes. The Peace Chapel site seemed perfect for it.?

J.C.: How important is it for local colleges and businesses to create artistic opportunities in local communities?

P.W.: ?It?s extremely important for colleges to take the lead in cultural events. A college like Juniata is the focal point and cutting edge of our culture in many ways. Students and the community can experience new dimensions in cultural expression. It?s extraordinarily important to gain that growth and experience through the arts at Juniata.?

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.