The Pacific Symphony Presents KENNY G, 8/23
Sultry, sweet sounds of saxophone superstar Kenny G mellifluously meld with the full orchestra, when Pacific Symphony delivers a jazz-infused summer evening of music, led by guest conductor Albert-George Schram. In a recording career that spans three decades and 23 albums, the Grammy Award-winning Kenny G has sold more than 75 million records worldwide (45 million in the U.S. alone) and enjoyed more than a dozen climbs to the top of Billboard's contemporary jazz chart. By grafting elements of R&B, pop and Latin to his smooth jazz foundation, Kenny G has solidified his reputation as the premier artist in contemporary jazz. Having made his debut with Pacific Symphony in February 2013 for a romantic Valentine's Day weekend celebration, Kenny G returns to Orange County on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m., to perform at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine as part of Mercedes-Benz presents Summer Festival 2014.
Concert tickets range from $25 (lawn seating) to $105 (orchestra seating); children under 14 are half price in most sections with the purchase of an adult ticket. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org. Summer Festival 2014 is also supported by the Orange County Register and media sponsors K-Earth 101, KPCC, KUSC and PBS SoCal.
Patrons are invited to picnic prior to the concert beginning at 6 p.m. And for the over-21 crowd: the Symphony's new Wine Club, hosted by Mercedes-Benz, with its shaded patio and stylish teak tables, is an ideal prelude to the concert. Held in the VIP club, the experience offers live music and an atmosphere that is casual and relaxed. Admission, two glasses of wine and a crackers-cheese-salami-and-fruit plate are $25. Guests are welcome to bring in their own picnics as well. Additional glasses of wine or bottles are also available for purchase. But space is limited to 100 people; for information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799.
"Kenny and I were in grad school together at the University of Washington about 35 years ago," says Maestro Schram, who last led the Symphony in a concert featuring Michael McDonald at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert hall in March 2014. "He played sax. I played trombone in the jazz band. He was phenomenal. I wasn't. Clearly, he made it much further on his sax than I did on my trombone. I love his endlessly flowing music. He is also a very dear man."
The exuberant first half of the concert blasts off with Giocchino Rossini's vigorous, swashbuckling Overture to "The Barber of Seville," one of the most loved and best-recognized works in the classical/opera repertoire, thanks in part to its use in countless movies, commercials and a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The program also includes Joseph Hellmesberger's exciting dance piece with an energetic waltz at its heart: "Danse Diabolique in D minor"; Victor Vanacore's sizzling mambo medley "Viva El Mambo"; the heart-thumping "Born to Hand Jive" from the hit movie "Grease"; and Jeff Tyzik's "Hot Soul Melody," which includes selections from "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," "My Girl," "Touch Me in the Morning," "Reach Out, I'll be there" and "Love Machine."
"First and foremost, I picked repertoire that will be real fun for the audience," says Schram. "Secondly, I really wanted Pacific Symphony to shine. It is such a fine orchestra filled with world-class musicians. It is always an honor to work with them. This will be my first time in the outdoor amphitheater and I look forward to being there with the great Pacific Symphony and my man Kenny G."
Kenny G, who is known for such notable favorites as "Songbird," "Silhouette," "Baby G," "Midnight Motion" and "The Moment," is a consummate musician with an unmistakable sound. You really can't think of the saxophone without Kenny G coming to mind. The two are nearly synonymous. Not to mention, he holds the world record for playing the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone¾an E-flat held for 45 minutes and 12 seconds. He began playing saxophone professionally at age 17 with Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra and rose to fame in the 1980s with the release of "Duotones," which earned him an international audience, and led to his work with superstars Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Michael Bolton and Natalie Cole. Recently, Kenny G has kept a profile in the pops industry, performing with Foster the People on Saturday Night Live and appearing in Katy Perry's music video "Last Friday Night."
Equally adept at conducting classical and pops programs, Maestro Schram has led a wide variety of repertoire for many orchestras in the U.S. and abroad. He is currently resident conductor of the Nashville Symphony and resident staff conductor of the Columbus (Ohio) and Charlotte symphonies, where he has conducted classical, pops, holiday and educational concerts. He has also served as music director of the Lubbock (Texas) Symphony and the Lynn (Florida) Philharmonic, and has held titled positions with the Louisville and Florida philharmonic orchestras. Schram is also a highly in-demand guest conductor around the globe. On the classical side, Schram has worked with many distinguished artists, including pianists Lang Lang and Olga Kern, and violinist Elmar Oliveira, among others. As a pops conductor, in addition to Kenny G, Schram has worked with James Taylor, Art Garfunkel, Chris Botti, LeAnn Rimes, Boyz II Men, Olivia Newton-John, Chicago, Aretha Franklin and many others.