Los Angeles, CA – February 9, 2017 – On Sunday, May 7, the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra will celebrate its 15th Anniversary with a special tribute to Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial birthday. This 7pm concert will feature guest vocalist Jane Monheit performing with the SJO’s 67-member jazz orchestra, the only ensemble of its kind in the United States.
With support from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, the SJO will perform a number of Ella’s beloved jazz orchestral arrangements by Nelson Riddle, including “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Won’t Dance,” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.”
This one-of-a-kind celebration, which will take place at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center at 6200 Atherton Street in Long Beach, will open with a work remembering SJO co-music director, the late George Duke, and feature two exciting world premiere works by Alan Chan and Gordon Goodwin, featuring saxophone soloist Eric Marienthal. The Carpenter Center is home for the SJO as they present a series of free educational and community concerts there called “Arts for Life.” An Arts for Life event will also take place the afternoon of May 7 with hundreds of students from across LA country in attendance.
The 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra is uniquely dedicated to the blend of jazz and classical, as exemplified by George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The orchestra, led by music director Mitch Glickman, has performed across Southern California at such venues as the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Royce Hall, the Ford Amphitheater, and more. The SJO has received peer review grant awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, Irvine Foundation, Music Performance Fund, Meet the Composer, the ASCAP Foundation and others. Soloists who have joined the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra include George Duke, Christian McBride, Dave Grusin, Raul Midon, Lee Ritenour, Justo Almario, John Clayton, Bill Cunliffe, Peter Erskine, Robert Hurst, Phil Perry, Ernie Watts, and The Yellowjackets.
Since its debut in 2002, the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra has commissioned ten new works, and performed fifteen world premieres. Previous commissioned composers have included George Duke, Lee Ritenour, Lesa Terry, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and Darcy James Argue. Each year, the SJO selects a composer to write a new piece through its ASCAP Foundation/ Symphonic Jazz Orchestra Commissioning Prize.
In addition to performing and commissioning, the SJO has become an integral piece of music education in Los Angeles County, bringing their “Music in the Schools” program to 170 classrooms totaling almost 4,000 students each week, with a focus on schools in underserved neighborhoods. This year-long program integrates with and enhances students’ understanding of math, reading, science, history, and creative writing. In some of the neighborhoods served by the SJO, like Compton and Watts, the program is in schools that have had no arts education in decades. This program is supported by national and local educational partnerships with Turnaround Arts, the Herb Alpert Foundation, LA County Arts for All, and the Arts Community Network in underserved elementary schools across LA County.
Symphonic Jazz Orchestra founder and music director Mitch Glickman notes, “For 15 years we’ve given composers the world’s greatest Crayola box of sounds – the 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra comprised of Hollywood’s finest studio musicians, adept at jazz, classical and so much more. By perpetuating this uniquely American form of music that began with Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” we continue to move the genre forward and feature some of the world’s finest soloists. And for the past 9 years, we have developed a unique K – 5th grade music curriculum that is now in 12 schools in Watts, Compton, Long Beach, Culver City and Los Angeles. I am continually amazed watching the students compose and perform their own blues songs, improvise on the keyboard, analyze the music of Bach, and sing the music of Duke Ellington.”
Tickets for the event are $35 and $55 and are available at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10134500. Additionally, there are a limited number $100 of VIP tickets that include a pre-concert reception at 6 pm, followed by preferred seats for the 7 pm concert. Sponsors for the event include the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Turkish Airlines, and KJAZZ Radio.