Fred Sturm directs the internationally acclaimed Eastman Jazz Ensemble, conducts the 70-piece Eastman Studio Orchestra, and coordinates the Eastman jazz composition and arranging program. He serves as guest conductor of the Hessischer Rund funk (Frankfurt Radio Orchestra) in Germany, the Kluvers Big Band in Denmark, and American university jazz ensembles; as director of high school all-state jazz bands throughout the U.S. ; as clinician at national educational conferences and festivals; and as composer-in-residence for school and university music programs through grants from Meet the Composer, New York State Council of the Arts, and Harvard Project Zero. The son of a Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist and an operatic contralto, Fred began composing and studied classical trumpet and trombone in his teens. He attended the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, creating and directing the school's first student-designed jazz ensemble as a 19-year old sophomore. He entered the University of North Texas as a graduate student and performed as a trombonist with the renowned One O'Clock Lab Band.
He co-founded and toured with the jazz nonet Matrix for a period of four years as trombonist, keyboardist, and composer. In 1977, he returned to Lawrence University to join the faculty as director of jazz studies, developing the jazz degree curriculum and leading the jazz ensemble to national prominence. During summers and a faculty leave, he completed a jazz studies and contemporary media degree in writing skills at the Eastman School, performed with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble, and served as teaching assistant to Professor Rayburn Wright. Since joining the Eastman jazz faculty in 1991, he has fostered the development of award-winning students, has developed new writing and pedagogy courses, and served as department chair for six years. Under his direction, the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and Studio Orchestra have been cited by Down Beat magazine as the outstanding collegiate jazz ensembles in the United States and Canada five times.
Sturm compositions and arrangements for jazz ensemble, orchestra, wind ensemble, and chamber ensembles are published by Universal Edition (Vienna), Advance Music (Germany), Kendo r Music, Lorenz Heritage Jazz Works, Really Good Music, UNC Jazz Press, Ensemble Publications, and Warner Brothers. His jazz works are recorded on Concord Jazz, RCA, and Warner Brothers; have been performed by Gene Bertoncini, Bob Brook meyer, Wycliffe Gordon, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Clark Terry, and Phil Woods; and earned a 1998 Grammy nomination. Fred is author of the acclaimed text / corresponding CD Changes Over Time: The Evolution of Jazz Arranging (Advance Music), Kenny Wheeler: Collected Works on ECM (Universal Edition), and Maria Schneider: Evanescence (Universal Edition). He has been the recipient of composition and research grants from Meet the Composer / Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music.