The Harlem School Of The Arts And The National Jazz Museum In Harlem Present Catskill Jazz Factory's THE SPIRIT OF HARLEM
On Monday, August 26 at 7:00pm, the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), in partnership with The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (NJMH), and the Catskill Jazz Factory (CJF) will present a special concert performance of The Spirit of Harlem, a celebratory homage to the most iconic moments of Harlem's musical past, and the jazz renaissance currently taking place in New York City. Free to the public, the concert will be held at the HSA Theater, located at 649 St. Nicholas Avenue.
The Spirit of Harlemband brings together some of the most outstanding musical voices of today, a group originally commissioned by the Catskill Jazz Factory for residency and official world premiere at the upcoming New Generation Festival in Florence, Italy. Joining the tour for this Harlem performance is Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, a distinctly 21st-century Harlem-based orchestra with a mission to broadcast that which has not been heard, and to give opportunity to new and dormant voices.
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem has been presenting a unique combination of lectures, concert, educational, and community events since 2004. Many of the artists in this production have been part of NJMH's musical family for many years.
Loren Schoenberg, Founding Director and Senior Scholar of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, says, "We thank the HSA for allowing us to present this wonderful show at their historic home. This program has a very special mission and they have found the perfect complement of artists to turn the concept into a swinging reality. By focusing on a specific group of musicians who have both the authority of having been around long enough to establish international reputations but able to relate to the youth culture of today, they are perfectly poised to effect change in any generation they confront. This is a long way of saying how Ellington would have put it: I (and you) will love them madly!"
HSA has been a passionate leader, building a bolder and more prominent public profile and commitment to the history of Jazz, and the community most often affiliated with this internationally renowned improvisational music form, through an on-going series of well attended public forums, and with the introduction of a summer jazz intensive, Great Days of Jazz, organized by Yolanda Wyns, HSA's music director.
"Students studied a broad range of jazz greats, from Thelonious Monk to Coltrane, to Horace Silver, to Mary Lou Williams. Each day, as part of the intensive curriculum, our students had an opportunity to better understand what made these musicians unique - what made them stand out," said Ms. Wyns. "By highlighting the importance of excellence in training, we are passing on the legacy of the great jazz masters to a new generation of young musicians."
HSA's leadership role as a champion of the arts was recently acknowledged by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, at their recent Gala Benefit Concert, where HSA was cited "...as exemplars
of support for, and commitment to the contributions of jazz to our communities and culture." The organization was awarded the Jazz and Community Leadership Award at a ceremony that paid tribute to the legendary tenor saxophonist and composer, Benny Golson.
"Having this performance in our theatre is of special significance, not just because of HSA's commitment to the arts, but as we approach the upcoming 100thanniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, a monumental milestone, it highlights the contributions and the impact that artists living in this community had across all of the arts disciplines," says HSA president Eric Pryor.
The Spirit of Harlemconcert, led by "trumpeter of abundant poise" (New York Times) Dominick Farinacci, will take the audience on a musical journey through Harlem's most iconic jazz venues, recreating the community's vibes and rich musical past through pit stops on Ellington's A Train to Minton's Playhouse, the Lafayette Theater, the Savoy Ballroom and beyond. Iconic artists such as James P. Johnson, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker are reimagined by this extraordinary ensemble performance, narrated by spoken word artist and poet Orlando Watson.
Featured in The Spirit of Harlem alongside bandleader and trumpeter Dominick Farinacci and spoken word artist Orlando Watson are the likes of "history in the making" (Boston Globe) vocalist Shenel Johns, "prodigy" (New York Times) tap dancer Michela Marino Lerman, and "world-class" (BBC) Christian Tamburr, vibraphone. The ensemble also features some of the best and brightest instrumentalists out of the current NYC jazz scene; saxophonist Patrick Bartley Jr, bassist Russell Hall, pianist Mathis Picard, and drummer Kyle Poole.
Following its New York City stop in Harlem, The Spirit of Harlem will have its official world première in Florence, Italy at The New Generation Festival on Friday, August 30. The festival première culminates in an original commissioned orchestral arrangement, composed by Steven Feifke and performed by The New Generation Festival Orchestra under the baton of Maximilian Fane.
"The performing arts play a truly vital role in creating dialogue and communication across societies," says Catskill Jazz Factory founder/artistic director Piers Playfair. "It is an honor to be participating in this trans-Atlantic project of enormous cultural substance.
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