Richmond Punch ('05) on Stringing Together Jazz and its Influence on the Current World

"Pursue your dream path..."

Richmond Punch (‘05) is a violin virtuoso who earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School of Music, and then moved on to receive his Master of Music degree from Yale. He specializes in live jazz violin music for all types of special events including corporate, concerts, festivals, weddings and worship. Richmond has produced 4 CDs in various genres that include Classical, Hip Hop Jazz and Gospel. We asked Richmond a few questions about how he got started, his experiences at Yale, inspirations, and current projects.

How did you get started? When/how did you know that you wanted to pursue your current career?

I started playing the violin at age 5 in public Montessori school. I went on to be selected into a performing arts magnet high school; Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, Tx where Erykah Badu and Norah Jones were also alumni. Then I was selected to The Juilliard School where I completed my Bachelors. After taking various jobs like small gigs, part-time symphony gigs, I realized I wanted to create my own career and be able to do much more than the classical music that I had studied.

Were you involved in the arts/literary scene at Yale?

I came to Yale to get my Masters Degree in Music. While I was in Yale I played in the Symphony

Orchestra, and went to many lectures and concerts. Yale Symphony also performed at Carnegie Hall in a thrilling concert we had there.

What is your favorite show/exhibit right now?

My favorite show/exhibit is the John Lewis mural in Atlanta. I am starting the Strings for Justice nonprofit as a result of being involved with Black Lives Matter. I am very fond of the Black Lives Matter exhibits as well as musicians presenting concerts online. The adjustments needed to produce social distance concerts are incredible.

What current projects are you working on? How Did this current project come about?

I am working on a new EP focused on Jazz because of the lack of Jazz venues there are in general and new generation artists presenting Jazz. Jazz influences are less in our culture today.

If you could perform or have your work displayed in any venue, which would it be?

Newport Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

In pursuing your art, have you taken on secondary jobs? If so, which was the most interesting?

My most interesting job outside of music performance is teaching music. I have taught the violin, viola and cello for up to 100 kids a day as a full time school teacher as well as 10 kids a week in private lessons.

If you could meet one artist/author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Miles Davis and Stuff Smith. Miles Davis is a quintessential jazz icon and Stuff Smith was a top versatile, solo act performer in Jazz and one of the few African American violinists known.

If you can live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and how would that affect your work?

I moved here to Atlanta in March to advance my music career. I feel this is the best place to be because it will elevate my career.

Lastly, what would be your best advice for recent grads?

My best advice to recent grads is to pursue their dream path. Don't just pursue a job because it pays bills or because it's the first thing available.

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