Press Releases

Mills Music Professors Roscoe Mitchell and Zeena Parkins Receive Doris Duke Artist Awards

Oakland, CA–April 28, 2014 Mills College is proud to announce that two professors from our internationally renowned Music Department have been honored with 2014 Doris Duke Artist Awards in recognition of their “exceptional creativity, ongoing self-challenge, and the continuing potential to make significant contributions." 

The Doris Duke Artist Awards invest in exemplary individual artists in contemporary dance, jazz, theater and related interdisciplinary work who have proven their artistic vitality and commitment to their field. The Doris Duke Artist Award is not a lifetime achievement award, nor a “genius” grant. The Award is a deeper investment in the potential of dedicated artists, empowering them through the freedom of unrestricted support while celebrating past achievement.

Mills' first award recipient, Darius Milhaud Professor of Music Roscoe Mitchell, is a solo woodwind performer, composer, and an avant-garde jazz and contemporary music icon. He is a founding member of the groundbreaking Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and the Trio Space. His music utilizes such unorthodox devices as spontaneous collective improvisation, toy instruments, and non-musical noise. Learn more »

Mills' second award recipient, Distinguished Visiting Artist Zeena Parkins, is a pioneer of contemporary harp practice and performance. She has built one-of-a-kind electric harps and has extended the language of the acoustic harp with unusual playing techniques, preparations, and layers of electronic processing. She has been commissioned by Ne(x)tworks, Roulette Intermedium, William Winant, the Whitney Museum, and the Tate Modern; and has released scores of recordings, including the recent, Trouble in Paradise (Tzadik, 2013) with Ikue Mori. Learn more »

Mills Professor of Music David Bernstein noted, "The fact that two members of the Mills faculty received awards this year from the Doris Duke Foundation, an organization which supports cutting-edge work in music, dance, and theater, is a testimony to the uniqueness and vitality of Mills and the leading role it continues to play in the arts."

Both Mitchell and Parkins are part of Mills’ long history as a center of musical creativity and innovation. Audiences have attended concerts given by composers and performers who have led the evolution of 20th- and 21st-century music. Today, Mills faculty, students, and visiting artists come together to define the next wave of music across genres from electronic music to classical performance to jazz improvisation.

About the Doris Duke Artist Awards
Each recipient of a Doris Duke Artist Award receives $275,000—including an unrestricted, multi-year cash grant of $225,000, plus as much as $25,000 more in targeted support for audience development and as much as $25,000 more for personal reserves or creative exploration during what are usually retirement years for most Americans. Artists will be able to access their awards over a period of three to five years under a schedule set by each recipient. Creative Capital, DDCF’s primary partner in the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, will also offer the awardees the opportunity to participate in professional development activities, financial and legal counseling, and regional gatherings—all designed to help them personalize and maximize the use of their grants.

To qualify for consideration by the review panels, all the Doris Duke Artists must have won grants, prizes or awards on a national level for at least three different projects over the past ten years, with at least one project having received support from a DDCF-funded program. The panel chose the artists based on demonstrated evidence of exceptional creativity, ongoing self-challenge, and the continuing potential to make significant contributions to the fields of jazz, contemporary dance and theater in the future. By the end of the initiative, 100 artists will have been named Doris Duke Artists.

About Mills College
Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity in approximately 1,000 undergraduate women and 600 graduate women and men. The College ranks as one of the Best 378 Colleges in the country and one of the greenest colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. U.S. News & World Report ranked Mills one of the top-tier regional universities in the country and lists it among the top colleges and universities in the West in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. For more information, visit


Last Updated: 6/26/17