symphony

Béla Fleck Unveils Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra with Nashville Symphony

Béla Fleck will present the world premiere of his Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra — one of the first ever written for the instrument — with the Nashville Symphony on September 22-24 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. To be performed by Fleck on his vintage 1937 mahogany Gibson Mastertone banjo, the Concerto marks a significant new departure for Fleck, who calls the piece "a liberating experience for my efforts as a composer and hopefully for the banjo as well." Commissioned by the Nashville Symphony, Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra will be the centerpiece of the orchestra’s opening concerts in the 2011/12 SunTrust Classical Series.

Given the names Béla (for Bartók), Anton (for Webern) and Leoš (for Janáčék), Fleck seems to have been destined to play classical music. Having launched a prolific and wildly successful career as a genre-melding instrumentalist, first with the New Grass Revival and later with the Flecktones, he made the classical connection with his 2001 solo album Perpetual Motion. Released on Sony Classical, the recording went on to win a pair of GRAMMYs®, including Best Classical Crossover Album. Fleck has won a total of 14 GRAMMYs®, and, with 30 nominations, he has been nominated in more different categories than anyone in GRAMMY® history.

Fleck dedicates his new Concerto to pioneering banjoist Earl Scruggs, who first inspired him to take up the instrument. The composer says that the piece reflects the dual influences of classical music and bluegrass. “You can hear an evolution in my own writing of the piece as it goes on,” he observes, noting that he wanted to “explore the new possibilities of the banjo as a member or the orchestra, while respecting its roots in bluegrass and jazz.”

Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra is perfectly matched at the Nashville Symphony concerts with Aaron Copland’s famous Appalachian Spring, which celebrates the American spirit with music of breathtaking beauty and directness. Concluding the performance is Tchaikovsky’s larger-than-life Fourth Symphony, the Russian composer’s favorite piece, which sweeps the audience with an emotional palette that ranges from melancholy to exuberance. The Thursday, September 22, performance will be webcast live via the Nashville Symphony’s website.

For more information about the concert or to purchase tickets, please call 615.687.6400 or visit NashvilleSymphony.org.
The GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony has earned an international reputation for its recordings and innovative programming. With 140 performances annually, the 84-member orchestra offers a broad range of classical, pops and jazz, children’s concerts and community engagement programs. As a national and international ambassador for Tennessee, the Nashville Symphony has received far-reaching acclaim for its 19 recordings on Naxos, making the ensemble one of the most active recording orchestras in the country. These recordings have received a total of 13 GRAMMY® nominations and six GRAMMY® Awards. On May 12, 2012, the Nashville Symphony will perform at Carnegie Hall as part of the Spring for Music festival, which recognizes orchestras for adventuresome, original programming.

DAVID AMRAM The First 80 Years! A Musical Celebration

DAVID AMRAM: The First 80 Years Jazz, a spectacular, historic celebration of a true American original whom the Washington Post has described as “one of the most versatile and skilled musicians America has ever produced,” will be presented by Jazz Forum Arts on Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 7:30 PM at Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, in Manhattan, it was announced by Mark Morganelli, Executive Director of the presenting organization. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Clearwater, the organization founded by Pete Seeger, as well as the Woody Guthrie Foundation

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The historic concert will feature:

· The New York premiere of Amram’s “Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie” performed in memory of Odetta by the 60-piece Queens College Orchestra, conducted by Maurice Peress. The work will be introduced by Nora Guthrie, who commissioned it with support from the Guthrie Foundation, based on her father’s song “This Land is Your Land.”  

·The New York premiere screening of the finale of the recent production of Amram’s 1968 comic opera “Twelfth Night” with a libretto by the late Joe Papp, which will be introduced by Bernard Gersten, Executive Producer of the Lincoln Center Theater and former co-producer with Joe Papp of the New York Shakespeare Festival.

·The first ever concert performance of excerpts from Amram’s classic film scores, “Splendor in the Grass” (1960), and “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962), performed by the Brooklyn Conservatory Jazz Ensemble, directed by Earl McIntyre, and The Jazz & Gospel Choirs, directed by Renee Manning.

· “En memoria de Chano Pozo” for Latin/jazz group and symphony orchestra, performed in memory of  Dizzy Gillespie by the Queens College Orchestra, conducted by David Amram, with guest soloists Candido (congas) and Bobby Sanabria (timbales) with Amram himself on piano, pennywhistles and percussion.  

·“One Heart, Many Voices,” performed by Amram’s Middle Eastern Trio with Avram Pengas (guitar and Bazookie) and Israeli singer/songwriter David Broza.

·Malachy McCourt will introduce Amram’s  “The Fox Hunt From Cork Meets The Blues From New York,” performed by Larry Kirwan (Black 47), John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Amram’s Latin/Jazz Ensemble and dancers from the Stella Adler School of Acting.

·Actor John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos) will read excerpts from Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” followed by performance Kerouac/Ginsburg/Cassady title song from the 1959 Best Documentary Film “Pull My Daisy.

The star-studded salute will also include filmed 80th birthday wishes from Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson, members of the N.Y. Philharmonic, and friends and colleagues from around the country. There will also be appearances and performances by Amram’s friends from the world of theatre, film and music, including actor Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey), Josh White Jr., Patience Higgins,  the Amram Family Band and current members and alumni of Amram's quartets from the past 40 years, as well as other surprise guests.  

The entire concert will be filmed by Lawrence Kraman for his documentary film “David Amram: The First 80 Years,” segments of which will be shown for the first time at this concert. To see links for the trailer, visit here and for the poster.

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During his illustrious career, David Amram has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works; numerous scores for Broadway theater and film; two operas, and the score for the landmark 1959 documentary Pull My Daisy, narrated by novelist Jack Kerouac.  He is also the author of three books, published by Paradigm Publishers.  A pioneer player of jazz French horn, he is also a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from 25 countries, in addition to being a renowned improvisational lyricist.  Amram has collaborated with Langston Hughes, Dizzy Gillespie, Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Depp, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente and Leonard Bernstein, who chose him as The New York Philharmonic's first composer-in-residence in 1966.  One of Amram's most recent works, Giants of the Night, a flute concerto, was commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway.  Today, as he has for over 50 years, Amram continues to compose music while traveling the world as a conductor, soloist, bandleader, visiting scholar, and narrator in five languages.  He celebrates his 80th birthday on November 17th.  Additional information is available at http://www.davidamram.com/

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Tickets for DAVID AMRAM: The First 80 Years are: $75, $55 and $35 (members, students, seniors: $70, $50 and $30; children: $65, $45 and $25) and can be purchased at the Symphony Space Box Office, 212.864.5400, or at http://www.symphonyspace.org.  For information about Jazz Forum Arts, call 888.99.BEBOP, or visit http://www.jazzforumarts.org/.

Dead Symphony #6 Down South

Southern Deadheads have a special opportunity coming up.  On October 5th, the Lagrange (Georgia) Symphony will perform Lee Johnson’s “Dead Symphony #6.”  As the Dead’s publicist and biographer, I flinched a little when I first heard of the idea of a symphonic take on the Dead; I feared “Dead with strings.”  That’s emphatically not Lee Johnson’s Dead Symphony.  Lee had a Deadhead friend, of course (doesn’t everybody?), who initiated him into the cult.  He really got the Dead’s music, which is of course rooted in improvisation.  Since having a 75 piece symphony improvise is….a bad idea, he did the improvising himself in the score, and the result is a take on familiar melodies, with variations, and not a simple new coat of strings.

The CD was much admired, and the live performances, first at the Baltimore Symphony, and more recently at the California Symphony (Walnut Creek, California) and Cabrillo Festival (Santa Cruz, California), have been knock-outs.

Now Lee’s taken the score and given it a final tune-up, so that what will be performed in Lagrange will be the final version.  And Lee will be in the cello section.

Lagrange is going to find itself in a slightly altered state on October 5th – check it out!  

For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.   And be sure to check out Grateful Web's review of Dead Symphony #6.

World Premiere of Dead Symphony, August 1st, in Baltimore

Dead Symphony- for the Grateful Web

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will delve into the psychedelic world of The Grateful Dead on what would have been Jerry Garcia's 66th birthday, Friday, August 1 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the world premiere performance of Lee Johnson's Dead Symphony No. 6. More than 10 years in the making, Dead Symphony No. 6 is the first orchestral tribute to The Grateful Dead ever composed. For this one-night-only performance, the lobby will transform into a counterculture museum featuring Grateful Dead memorabilia and other rock 'n' roll gems from the 1960s and 1970s. Rare Grateful Dead photographs by Baltimore native Amalie Rothschild—house photographer for the legendary concert hall Fillmore East in NYC - will also be auctioned online and in the lobby the night of the performance with all proceeds benefiting the BSO. See below for complete program information.

Known not only as counterculture icons, but also for their original musicianship, the group stands alone in its embrace of genres as diverse as gospel, funk, jazz, blues and psychedelic rock—complex musical forms which lend themselves to symphonic settings. With a following of "Deadheads" in the hundreds of thousands even today, the legendary music of The Grateful Dead lives on with countless cover bands and live recordings. The BSO is the first major orchestra to dedicate an entire concert to The Grateful Dead's legendary music. The BSO's premiere of Dead Symphony No. 6 will also celebrate the 66th birthday of Jerry Garcia, the late lead guitarist and iconic member of The Grateful Dead.

Dead Symphony No. 6—the No. 6 signifies that it is Johnson's Sixth Symphony—dedicates separate movements to Grateful Dead hits "Saint Stephen," "Here Comes Sunshine," "Mountains of the Moon," "Blues for Allah," "Sugar Magnolia," "To Lay Me Down," "If I Had the World to Give," "Stella Blue," "Bird Songs" and "China Doll." The work also features a symphonic jam session during "Stella Blue." In keeping with The Dead's performance style, Pro Video Group of Baltimore will recreate a psychedelic video display behind the orchestra during this performance.

Work began on the symphony in 1995, shortly after Jerry Garcia's death, when record producer and Deadhead Mike Adams contacted Johnson with the idea for the symphony. "I wasn't a Deadhead at the time, so I had to start at the beginning," Johnson said. "I bought everything The Dead had published and became a student of their art. I would finish a movement or two and gather up those that loved The Grateful Dead and see what happened when I played it for them. Their honest reactions told me everything. Tears, smiles, closed eyes and sometimes dancing. Any new movement that didn't create a genuine vibe in the listening room went away for good."

The culmination of Johnson's hard work paid off in 2007 when the Russian National Orchestra recorded and released Dead Symphony No. 6. The August 1st performance will be the first time Dead Symphony No. 6 is performed live.

Lee Johnson, composer

Lee Johnson has conducted and recorded with several world-class orchestras including the Russian National Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Taliesin Orchestra, London Session Orchestra, American Rock Orchestra and Cyberlin Philharmonia. During his career, he has composed six symphonies, four musicals, two operas and numerous chamber works, concerti, choral and vocal works. He has also composed music for ballet, theater, feature and experimental film and hundreds of works for multimedia and interactive technologies.

Among his numerous accolades for original compositions, Mr. Johnson has received an Emmy Award (1991, "It May Not Be Tara"), was named Georgia Artist of the Year (1995) and has won ASCAP (1993) and ADDY (1996) awards. Mr. Johnson is currently a full-time Callaway Professor of Music Chair at LaGrange College in Georgia.

About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, the Baltimore Symphony has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland through innovative education and community outreach initiatives.

The Baltimore Symphony made musical history in September 2007, when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra's 12th music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. With her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in orchestral music, Maestra Alsop's directorship has ushered in a new era for the BSO and its audiences.

Each season the BSO plays host to some of the world's most renowned talents, including violinists Hilary Hahn and Joshua Bell, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In addition to its year-round classical programming, the BSO has been praised for its popular concerts. In recent years, the BSO has performed with artists such as Elvis Costello, Alison Krauss, Ben Folds and The Decemberists. For more information about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, visit BSOmusic.org.

COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION

Dead Symphony: A Symphonic Tribute to the Grateful Dead

Friday, August 1, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. — Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Lee Johnson: Dead Symphony No. 6 (WORLD PREMIERE PERFORMANCE)

Special anniversary pricing at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is made possible by generous underwriting from the PNC Foundation.

Media sponsorship is provided by WBAL 1090AM.

Tickets for this program range from $20 to $60 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444 or BSOmusic.org.