Welcome to #CLPSpotlights, our monthly series highlighting individuals and organizations that make a difference in their community. This month, we interviewed Robin Schmeider from MCG Jazz. Since its inception in 1987, MCG Jazz has presented “unique concerts in its 350-seat music hall and numerous additional performances at other venues in Pittsburgh and around the country” to more than a half a million patrons and won five GRAMMY awards.
Q. How has your work evolved during the pandemic to meet the community’s needs?
A. I changed careers during the pandemic, going from the finance field to arts administration, which is where my heart truly lies. To me, music has been one of the most important ways to bring people together during this time. It’s been a triumph that our organization has been able to provide outstanding live jazz performances while keeping our patrons secure with our safety policies. We also offered the option to livestream our events this season, so folks who weren’t quite ready to venture out could still enjoy!
Q. What is your favorite part of what you do?
A. I love working directly with the community and getting to know our patrons. So many of our patrons have been attending our concerts for the entire 35 years we’ve been established. Each of those patrons gives me a little insight into their personal history with MCG Jazz, which is fun to weave into our larger narrative.
Q. What do you wish the public knew about your organization?
A. We have our own record label with about 60 albums. My boss, Marty Ashby, has even won 5 GRAMMYs with artists who recorded albums with us. We have a few new albums coming out this year which I’m sure you’ll be able to hear on our WZUM radio show, which airs every weekend!
Q. What role does CLP have in helping your organization?
A. We are a participating organization in the RAD pass program, which gives awesome discounts to the community.
Q. Who’s your favorite author or artist at the moment?
A. My favorite author has always been Ray Bradbury. One of my favorite artists of all time is Leonard Bernstein; I especially love his Mass and Chichester Psalms. Since working at MCG Jazz, it’s been enlightening to hear his music on our album “Bernstein Reimagined” by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Listening to his works I know and love, revamped in jazz form, is musical magic!
Q. What is your favorite local business or organization?
A. In addition to the premiere jazz institution in the city, MCG Jazz, I love the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.