Saturday, February 23, 2008

From “First Suite” to “Kansas City Suite” with the HSU Symphonic Band and the Jazz Orchestra

The HSU Symphonic Band performs three works with an international flavor while the HSU Jazz Orchestra plays an epic work of American jazz in their joint concert on Saturday, February 23 in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at Humboldt State University.

Singer Elisabeth Harrington will join the Symphonic Band in Bernard Gilmore’s “Five Folk Songs” for soprano voice and wind instruments. Inspired by such folk artists as Theodore Bikel and the Limelighters, this work features passages sung in five languages: an Irish dialect, English, Greek, Spanish and Yiddish. According to Paul Cummings, the Symphonic Band director, Gilmore’s work is characterized by its “judicious balance of voice and instruments.”

The Symphonic Band plays two other selections: early twentieth century English composer Gustav Holst’s “First Suite,” which Cummings said “is considered to be one of the earliest masterworks for wind band,” and “the Florentiner March” by Hungarian composer Julius Fucik. Of European marches now played in America, this march in the grand Italian style “is one of the most beloved,” Cummings said.

For their half of the program, the HSU Jazz Orchestra performs a single work: “Kansas City Suite” by Benny Carter. According to Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag, Carter was “one of the principal architects of the Big Band sound” of the 1930s and 1940s. A skilled performer on alto saxophone and other instruments, he was a mentor to many modern jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. “He spent close to thirty years as one of the major film and television composers and paved the way for other African-American composers in Hollywood,” Aldag said. Carter was a Kennedy Center honoree in 1996 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000.

“Kansas City Suite” features trumpet solos by every member of the Jazz Orchestra’s trumpet section: Ari Davie, Tristan Kadish, Krystal Moore, Chisana White and Karolyn Wyneken. Other soloists include trombonists Melissa Gussin, Leah Jmaeff and Talon Nansel; saxophonists Sky Miller and Leo Echazabel, and pianist Jeff Kroeger.

The combined concert of the HSU Symphonic Band and the Jazz Orchestra begins at 8 PM on Saturday, February 23 in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID.

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