Eric Oberstein is a GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY-winning producer, arts administrator, musician, educator, and consultant. Eric currently serves as Associate Director of Duke Performances, the professional performing arts presenting organization at his alma mater, Duke University. Prior to returning to Duke, Eric served as Executive Director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, the New York-based non-profit that supports the work of the GRAMMY Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO), directed by pianist, composer, and educator Arturo O’Farrill. He holds Master’s degrees in Arts Administration and Arts in Education from Columbia University and Harvard University, respectively. He earned his undergraduate degree with distinction from Duke University.
A New York-born saxophonist and drummer of Cuban American descent, Eric has worked at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Office for the Arts at Harvard, and the Research Center for Arts and Culture. At Duke Performances, Eric works with a team committed to presenting willfully eclectic, forward-thinking performing arts of the highest quality. Annually, Duke Performances offers a robust season of 70-80 world-class performances, making extensive use of a network of Duke and Durham venues, and presenting artists spanning classical, new music, jazz, Americana, independent rock, international music, theater, and dance. Eric has managed visiting artist residencies that engage both Duke’s campus and the broader Durham community by artists including Fisk Jubilee Singers, yMusic, Jennifer Koh, Gerald Clayton, Jenny Scheinman, Ana Tijoux, Saul Williams, Rude Mechs, Urban Bush Women, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, and others.
He authored a chapter on the topic of the Creative Campus and university arts engagement, looking at how institutions of higher learning are engaging their communities in a cross-campus, interdisciplinary fashion through the arts. His chapter appears in the critically acclaimed anthology 20UNDER40: Re-Inventing the Arts and Arts Education for the 21st Century, a collection of twenty essays about the future of the arts and arts education, each written by an emerging leader under the age of forty.
In 2010 Eric produced the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra’s tour to Cuba, returning legendary Cuban composer and arranger Chico O’Farrill’s musicians to his homeland for headlining performances at the 26th edition of the Havana International Jazz Plaza Festival.
Eric has previously produced six albums with Arturo O’Farrill, ranging from solo piano to big bands, earning multiple GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY Awards and nominations. Credits include: Cuba: The Conversation Continues (2015, GRAMMY Award for Best Instrumental Composition for O’Farrill’s “The Afro Latin Jazz Suite,” Latin GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album, GRAMMY nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album); The Offense of the Drum (2014, GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album, Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album); Final Night at Birdland (2013, Latin GRAMMY Award for Best Instrumental Album); The Noguchi Sessions (2012); 40 Acres and a Burro (2011, GRAMMY nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album); and Risa Negra (2009).
Eric is currently collaborating with Cuban drummer, composer, educator, and MacArthur Fellow Dafnis Prieto on the launch of the Dafnis Prieto Big Band, serving as Producer on an album to be recorded in Summer 2017 and released in 2018. Eric is also currently serving as Project Manager on Fences, the latest record from Durham, NC-based folk-pop trio, Bombadil.
He serves as co-chair of the inaugural Alumni Committee for the Program in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Photo by Juli Leonard / The News & Observer