Pacific Symphony Celebrates Daniel Schnyder & Duke Ellington this May

Pacific Symphony Celebrates Daniel Schnyder & Duke Ellington this May

In an ongoing quest to make new musical discoveries through its acclaimed American Composers Festival (ACF), Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, this year celebrates the music of two seemingly disparate figures-representing past and present: the iconic Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974) and living saxophonist-composer Daniel Schnyder, neither of whom fit neatly into a single musical category. ACF, an annual celebration of American composers, seems somehow incomplete without the inclusion of Ellington, whose works have inspired countless composers and musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries-including Schnyder. This year, the Symphony doesn't just refer to Ellington, but presents the ensemble that carries his name and has been playing together in one form or another for more than eight decades; the other half of the equation is this year's ACF composer-in-residence Schnyder-both of whom defy definition.

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"And I worked with Daniel on tour in Germany. It was my first meeting with him and I felt an immediate closeness to him and his musical spirit," he continues. "His presence is inspiring and will complement the Duke Ellington Orchestra's wonderful world of jazz. Both Duke Ellington and Daniel Schnyder are what I would term as 'eclectic borrowers.' They each take musical ideas, themes and various multicultural musical idioms, and through their individual genius, create their own unique musical identity."

"Today's musical landscape, which some have called 'post-classical,' is wide, varied and level," says the Symphony's ACF advisor, Joseph Horowitz. "It does not rank one form of musical experience over another. In the concert hall, a lot of the most significant activity now occurs when different types of music interact. Our American Composers Festival has celebrated hybrids of this kind through such master composers as Lou Harrison (who absorbed Javanese gamelan), Zhou Long (who combines Western and Chinese musical practices) and John Adams (on whom the swing era exerted a lasting influence)."

Both Ellington and Schnyder are prime examples of post-classical. Ellington, was commonly described as "beyond category" and Swiss-American Schnyder-primarily a composer of jazz/classical crossover works, with related music styles that include Africa, Cuba and the Middle East-is a hybrid of his own making. (b