Tuesday, November 08, 2005

THE CSO in Syncopation with the Cornell Jazz festival


During the last week of April, Cornell hosts the 14th Annual Jazz Festival, featuring guest saxophonist James Carter and trombonist and arranger Slide Hampton. The Cornell Symphony Orchestra is proud to collaborate with the Jazz ensembles for the first time in this event’s history, and the orchestra will jazz it up with James Carter playing Roberto Sierra’s Concerto for Saxophones and Orchestra.
The Jazz Festival spans over a week with masterclasses, workshops, lectures, and various performances from our guest artists. However, the week’s culmination comes with the final concert, where the guest artists, CU Jazz Ensemble I, CU Orchestra, and select Ithaca High School musicians all share the stage. Through the generous funding from the music department, CCA, and SAFC, James Carter is Cornell’s “Artist in Residence” for the weekend. The orchestra is honored to have the opportunity of working with this distinguished artist. In addition to topping Downbeat’s annual Critics Poll in the Baritone Saxophone category for the third year in a row, James Carter is the only person on the face of the planet allowed to play Roberto Sierra’s Concerto for Saxophones and Orchestra. 
Written for James Carter and The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the concerto integrates jazz and classical elements with a tinge of Sierra’s Puerto Rican heritage. After a rousing world premiere in October 2003, the glowing reviews among audiences and critics secured an encore performance to celebrate the opening of The Max.
From the fiesta of a first movement to the dreamy second movement waltz to the final rock and roll movement, the concerto showcases talent from all ends. While the concerto is written in a conventional score for the orchestra, the combined effects of Sierra’s genius and Carter’s brilliance resonates a style that will please tradition but satisfy improvisation. Cadenzas become Carter’s stage to let loose and showcase his virtuosity while tutti’s show that the orchestra has some tricks of its own.
The piece is like a giant syncopation, revealing that the traditionally weaker elements of the orchestra (improvisation) can still be accented and brought out to create a form of music that celebrates the best from all styles.
All in all, the collaboration of the CSO with the Cornell Jazz Festival proves to be a mutual learning experience. The orchestra wishes to thank Mr. Paul Merrill, Director of Jazz Ensembles, for giving us the chance to be a part of this unique experience—different genres come together to create a hybrid of wonderful music, showcasing great taste, courage, and individuality. And best of all, it’s a ton of fun!
By Arthur Chang Hotel Management, '07 [from May 2005 Whole Notes]

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