October 8, 2017
by David Patrick Stearns, Music Critic
The coincidence couldn’t have been planned.
Outfest 2017 was throbbing away on 12th Street on Sunday afternoon while retired Congressman Barney Frank, whose work helped bring public LGBT activities into the mainstream, was a few blocks away at the Kimmel Center, having been tapped as an unconventional narrator for an offbeat piece of jazz/orchestra music, Gunther Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz.
The occasion was a concert by Chamber Orchestra First Editions, whose mission is both modern music and early Mozart, cheek by jowl, founded and directed by James Freeman. Both Freeman and Frank were classmates at Harvard, and while looking for a narrator for Schuller, Freeman speculated that Frank might have the time available after retiring from about four decades of public life in the Democratic Party. And there he was on the Perelman Theater stage for the third in a series of Philadelphia-area concerts.
The Sunday performance was a success. Schuller’s piece tells the story of a misfit kid trumpeter who evolves into a jazz Jedi, accompanied by a symphonic jazz panorama that felt so fresh you’d never guess the piece was written in 1962. The piece benefited by the gravel that Frank’s voice has acquired over the years, and his bluff, no-nonsense manner plus regional accent (New Jersey) assured that the story would never lapse into sentimentality.
But, at age 77, does Frank have a new career path? Nah. Though he seems perfectly at home in front of an audience, he isn’t a performer, but a get-down-to-business guy who probably is not about to master a more artificial style of presentation. And would we want him to? He is who he is, and has basically lived the message of Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz, which is “be yourself.”
As a companion piece to Schuller, Gabriel Globus-Hoenich’s Shattered Stones, a work for jazz quintet and string orchestra commissioned for the concert, arrives in an era when jazz-symphonic synthesis is no longer rocket science. This piece favored the jazz quintet over the orchestra — fine! — and succeeded as much on the charisma of the performers as the music itself.
Mozart would seem to be an incongruous presence here, but was wisely positioned at the top of the concert (Piano Concerto No. 12, K. 414) and at the end (Symphony No. 29 K. 201). The concerto went well enough with Swarthmore faculty member Andrew Hauze and First Editions associate conductor Heidi Jacob, though Hauze’s piano technique isn’t refined enough to make every note count in Mozart. Also, the middle movement’s unusually slow tempo enlarged the expressive playing field in ways the performers didn’t justify.
The symphony was quite a different story. Though his public life has been mainly with modern music, Freeman is hugely passionate about Mozart in general and this symphony in particular, projecting a ruggedly dramatic point of view and a sound world that’s distinctive to this piece. Whatever his tempo choices, they came off as electric. He also drew from his players a level of playing and exterior polish that I wish the higher-profile Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia could achieve in this repertoire.
WRTI, Susan Luis
Former Congressman Barney Frank will be on stage at Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS concerts in Swarthmore, Haverford, and Center City on October 6, 7, and 8 to narrate a classic 1962 work in the style of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, but with a jazz twist.
Gunther Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz explores one boy’s journey from classical music to jazz. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with Frank about his surprising role in this production, and the parallels between music and politics.
Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS kicks off its third season with a program exploring the synthesis of classical music and jazz—called “third stream music”—with performances of Schuller’s 1962 classic Journey into Jazz, and the premiere of a composition for jazz quintet and string orchestra by drummer Gabriel Globus-Hoenich. Also on the program, early works of W.A. Mozart, including the Piano Concerto No. 12 with pianist Andrew Hauze and Symphony No. 29, written at age 18. A half-hour discussion with Rep. Frank and the musicians will precede each concert. Details here.
From Politics to Music: How Barney Frank was drawn to this role.
In 1936, Prokofiev wrote an orchestral work for narrator and orchestra with musical depictions of fairy tale characters that engaged generations of listeners, including retired Congressman Barney Frank, who served 16 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“One of my favorite pieces when I was .. I don’t know, we’re talking maybe 70 years ago – the narration of Peter and the Wolf …When I was a little boy, I knew what sinister meant, and what happy meant …. It brings back very happy memories for me.”
Barney Frank with WRTI’s Susan Lewis.
Now, another composition, in a similar style, combining narration with music has drawn Frank into a new role. In concerts this weekend by Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS, he narrates Gunther Schuller’s Journey into Jazz. It’s a work for orchestra, jazz quintet, solo trumpet and narrator.
Together, they tell the story of Edwin Jackson, a boy who loves music and learns to play classical trumpet. Then he discovers a group of boys playing jazz in a house down the street. He desperately wants to play with them but has to learn what jazz is.
“This is very much an interactive piece in terms of the musicians relating to each other. I grew up in the ’40s and ’50s, jazz was very much a part of the scene. It’s a story that talks about people interacting and somebody learning.”
In his government career, Frank delivered hundreds of speeches. He says politics and music have common communication goals:
“Whether you’re an artist or a politician, you want to change the world in some way. So part of your job is to take your conception, your idea, your goal, and without sacrificing your integrity, think about, all how do I maximize the chance that this is going to have the impact I want on my audience, and that’s the commonality.”
“But whatever you’re trying to get across, whether it’s a public policy change, a philosophical viewpoint, a view of human nature in a novel, a conception that’s embodied in a musical piece, your job—if you’re really trying to have an impact—is to shape it in a way that will reach an audience.”
Barney Frank began his career in politics as assistant to the Mayor of Boston. In 1980, he was elected to the US House of Representatives. He retired in 2013. He’s written two books, Speaking Frankly in 1992, and his 2015 memoir, Frank: From the Great Society to Same Sex Marriage.
Full ArticleCan a long career in the United States Congress prepare you for a narration gig in a jazz piece? Former congressman Barney Frank will be the narrator when Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS presents a modern classic, Gunther Schiller’s 1962 “Journey into Jazz.”
Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS is the latest brainchild of James Freeman, the founding director of Philadelphia’s modern music organization, Orchestra 2001. Every FIRST EDITIONS concert combines modern works with pieces from Mozart’s earlier years. For the kickoff for the group’s third season, Freeman and associate conductor Heidi Jacobs will explore the melding of classical music and jazz. The other modern item on the card will be the premiere of a piece for jazz quintet and string orchestra by drummer Gabriel Globus-Hoenich. Mozart will contribute his second piano concerto, with pianist Andrew Hauze as soloist, and his Symphony No. 29, which he wrote when he was 18. Frank and the musicians will engage in a half-hour discussion before each performance.
Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS will present Journey from Mozart to Jazz on October 6 at 8pm at Swarthmore College’s Lang Concert Hall; October 7 at 3pm at Haverford College’s Marshall Auditorium; and October 8 at 3pm at the Kimmel’s Perelman Theater. The two college performances are free. Tickets for the Perelman Theater performance are $25 ($20 for seniors and $10 for students) and they’re available online, by calling 215-893-1999, and at the door.
Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns – Full Preview
“Who’d have thought that retired congressman Barney Frank and longtime Philadelphia orchestra conductor James Freeman would take a journey into jazz? Together?
Freeman’s Chamber Orchestra First Editions, which is beginning its third season, announced Monday that Frank will narrate the Gunther Schuller piece Journey into Jazz for three performances Oct. 6-8 at venues in and around Philadelphia.
“Having just ended one career,” Frank said in a statement, “I am happy to make my debut in another branch of public performance — although this one probably won’t last 45 years.”
Frank and Freeman are old friends from their years as Harvard University students. Frank was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D., Mass.) from 1981 to 2013. In 1987, he became the first openly gay member of Congress. Freeman had further studies at Tanglewood, and Vienna’s Akademie für Musik, and became professor of music at Swarthmore. He is now professor emeritus.
The piece Frank will narrate, Journey into Jazz, was written by Schuller in 1962, much in the spirit of narrated orchestral works such as Peter and the Wolf, but with music that’s often called “third stream” — an integrated fusion of jazz and classical. Journey into Jazz tells the story of Eddie, a kid who barricades himself in his room, listening to jazz recordings and who eventually joins a group of jazz musicians in a nearby basement.
The program is not out of character for Freeman, who for decades championed a wide range of modern music as conductor/founder of Orchestra 2001. The mandate of First Editions is pairing early Mozart pieces with modern works, which in this concert will also include Gabriel Globus-Hoenich’s newly commissioned work for jazz quintet and a string orchestra. The Mozart works include Piano Concerto No. 12 with soloist Andrew Hauze and Symphony No. 29.
The concerts take place Oct. 6 at Lang Concert Hall in Swarthmore, Oct. 7 at Roberts Hall at Haverford College, and Oct. 8 at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. The first two concerts are free. The Kimmel Center concert requires tickets…”
Jan Krzywicki is active as a composer, conductor and educator. As a composer he has been commissioned by prestigious performers, and organizations such as the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Chestnut Brass Company, and performed across the United States by ensembles such as the Colorado Quartet, the Network for New Music, the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Alea III, and others. His music has been heard across the country, at conferences of contemporary music (College Music Society, Society of Composers, Inc., etc.), at various universities, on national public radio, and in Europe, South America and Asia. He is the recipient of a 1996 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a Rockefeller Foundation residency (Bellagio, Italy), a Bogliasco Foundation residency (Bogliasco, Italy), ASCAP and Meet the Composer awards, and has been a Fellow at artist colonies such as The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Millay, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. His work is published by Alphonse Leduc & Cie, Theodore Presser Co., Tenuto Publications, Lyra Music Company, and Heilman Music. Krzywicki’s music is available on Albany Records (two solo CDs) as well as on Capstone Records, North-South Recordings, De Haske Records, and Long Tone Music.
As a conductor he has led chamber and orchestral groups in literature from the middle ages to the present, including a large number of local and world premieres. Since 1990 he has been conductor of the contemporary ensemble Network for New Music having premiered over seventy works by composers such as Bernard Rands, David Rakowski, Richard Wernick, Mario Davidovsky, Augusta Read Thomas and others. With Network he has recorded three CDs for Albany Records., as well as works by Folio and Barker and his own works.
Krzywicki has taught at Beaver College (now Arcadia University), Haverford College, the Philadelphia Musical Academy, the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, and the New School of Music. He has been a member of the music studies department since 1987.
Krzywicki’s musical training began with piano study at an early age. After early composition studies with Joseph Castaldo he then studied at the Juilliard School of Music with Vincent Persichetti and Elliott Carter, at the Ecole de Beaux Arts (Fontainebleau, France) with Nadia Boulanger, and at the Aspen Music Center with Darius Milhaud. He subsequently received a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from the University of Kansas studying with John Pozdro and Edward Mattila, a Master of Music degree from the Philadelphia Musical Academy, studying under Theodore Antoniou, and pursued studies in medieval music and twentieth century music at Temple University.
Award winning composer Richard Danielpour has established himself as one of the most gifted and sought-after composers of his generation. His music has attracted an international and illustrious array of champions, and, as a devoted mentor and educator, he has also had a significant impact on the younger generation of composers. His list of commissions include some of the most celebrated artists of our day including Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Dawn Upshaw, Emanuel Ax, Gil Shaham, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, Gary Graffman, Anthony McGill, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Guarneri and Emerson String Quartets, the New York City and Pacific Northwest Ballets, and institutions such as the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Maryinsky, and Vienna Chamber Orchestras, Orchestre National de France, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and many more. With Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Danielpour created Margaret Garner, his first opera, which premiered in 2005 and had a second production with New York City Opera. He has received the American Academy of Arts & Letters Charles Ives Fellowship, a Guggenheim Award, Bearns Prize from Columbia University, and fellowships and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Copland House, and the American Academies in Berlin and Rome. He is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and Curtis Institute.
In 2016, Danielpour had seven world premieres in the U.S. Most notable among them, were his Percussion Concerto (January 2016) with the New Jersey Symphony, his ballet Layla and the Majnun (April 2016) for the Nashville ballet, and most recently, the premiere of Talking to Aphrodite, a song cycle for voice and string orchestra, written in collaboration with Erica Jong and premiered by the Sejong Soloists and Sarah Shafer at Carnegie Hall in December 2016. He is currently working on an 80 minute oratorio, The Passion of Yeshua, which will premiere in July 2018 at the Oregon Bach Festival.
Danielpour is one of the most recorded composers of his generation; many of his recordings can be found on the Naxos and Sony Classical labels. Danielpour’s music is published by Lean Kat Music and Associated Music Publishers.
The recipient of a 2006 Musical Fund Society Career Advancement Award, the 2003 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 2003 Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, pianist Natalie Zhu is a winner of Astral Artistic Services’ 1998 National Auditions. The Philadelphia Inquirer heralded Astral’s presentation of Ms. Zhu in recital as a display of “emotional and pianistic pyrotechnics”; selections from the recital were later broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.” Natalie Zhu began her piano studies with Xiao-Cheng Liu at the age of six in her native China and made her first public appearance at age nine in Beijing. At eleven she emigrated with her family to Los Angeles, and by fifteen was enrolled at the Curtis Institute, where she received the Rachmaninoff Award and studied with Gary Graffman. She received a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, where she studied with Claude Frank.
A native of Detroit, Cynthia Raim graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1977 after studying with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. Her awards include first prize at the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition, the Pro Musicis Award, first prize at the J.S. Bach International Piano Competition, first prize at the Three Rivers National Piano Competition and the first Distinguished Artist Award of the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, given for “outstanding achievement and artistic merit.” Ms. Raim has collaborated with David Soyer, Samuel Rhodes, and the Guarneri and Johannes Quartets, among others. Annually, she gives recitals throughout the world, participating in many leading international music festivals such as Marlboro, Ravinia, Mostly Mozart and Santa Fe.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Press Contact:
Sharene Azimi, Mission Communications
REP. BARNEY FRANK TO NARRATE 1962 CLASSIC “JOURNEY INTO JAZZ” WITH PHILADELPHIA’S CHAMBER ORCHESTRA FIRST EDITIONS
Concerts will explore synthesis of classical music and jazz, and, as with all COFE productions, the artistic progress of the teenage Mozart
August 14, 2017 – Philadelphia, PA – Running October 6-8, 2017, Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS (COFE) will launch its third season with a program exploring the synthesis of classical music and jazz – called “third stream music” – featuring a performance of Gunther Schuller’s 1962 classic “Journey into Jazz,” narrated by liberal icon Barney Frank, and the premiere of a composition for jazz quintet and string orchestra by drummer Gabriel Globus-Hoenich.
Third stream music is a term coined by the multifaceted American musician Gunther Schuller (1925-2015) to describe works that combine elements of jazz and contemporary classical art music. His “Journey into Jazz,” which premiered in May 1962 with the composer conducting the National Symphony Orchestra, is a perfect example of that term. With lyrics by Nat Hentoff, then a columnist at The Village Voice, the work captures the spirit of the times as it tells the story of a young boy who discovers jazz. The role of the narrator will be performed by Barney Frank, who gained national recognition as the first openly gay member of Congress and has continued to advocate for progressive causes since his retirement from Congress in 2013.
“I look forward to helping present this important piece,” said Barney Frank. “Having just ended one career, I am happy to make my debut in another branch of public performance—although this one probably won’t last 45 years!”
Complementing the Schuller piece will be a brand-new example of third stream music composed by Gabriel Globus-Hoenich, a drummer who has been featured with Philly Pops and the Pittsburgh Symphony.
In keeping with COFE’s mission, these 20th and 21st century pieces will be presented alongside early works of W.A. Mozart, including the Piano Concerto No. 12 with pianist Andrew Hauze and the remarkable Symphony No. 29, written when Mozart was only 18.
“This program is a tribute to the extraordinary artistic results young composers can accomplish,” said COFE’s artistic director and founder James Freeman. “Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS is thrilled to bring to our audiences a program filled with such youthful vigor and intensity.”
A half-hour discussion with Rep. Frank and the musicians will precede each concert.
Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS presents:
A Journey from Mozart to Jazz, with narrator Barney Frank
- James Freeman, Conductor
W.A. Mozart, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A Major (No. 12)
- Andrew Hauze, Piano
- Heidi Jacob, Associate Conductor
Gunther Schuller, Journey into Jazz
- Barney Frank, Narrator
- Rittenhouse Jazz Quintet
Gabriel Globus-Hoenich, new commissioned work for jazz quintet and string orchestra
W.A. Mozart, Symphony in A Major (No. 29)
DATES AND TICKETING
Friday, October 6 at 8pm, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA
Saturday, October 7 at 3pm, Roberts Hall, Haverford College, Haverford, PA
Sunday, October 8 at 3pm, Perelman Theatre, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA
Admission to the Swarthmore and Haverford concerts is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS (COFE) presents informal concerts combining premieres of new commissioned works by Philadelphia-area composers with early works by W.A. Mozart. During a pre-concert discussion, composers, performers, and renowned guest soloists speak about their own development as artists in the light of the early career of Mozart. His development as a musician is uniquely traceable through his music as well as through the voluminous surviving correspondence with his family.
COFE’s orchestra combines a core of superb Philadelphia freelance players with a small and select group of advanced student string players from Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr Colleges. Participating students have the opportunity to work directly with composers on challenging new repertoire and to collaborate with eminent soloists and some of Philadelphia’s best professional musicians.
James Freeman, formerly the Artistic Director/Conductor/Founder of Philadelphia’s Orchestra 2001, is COFE’s Musical Director and Founder. He is Professor Emeritus of Music at Swarthmore College and was trained at Harvard University, Tanglewood, and Vienna’s Akademie für Musik.
For more information, visit http://chamberorchestrafe.org