Release (2006/11/16)

ACO & Jazz at Lincoln Center
in First Collaboration
Nov. 16 – 18
features Gershwin & Derek Bermel Premiere

American Composers Orchestra teams-up with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in a program that explores the intersection of jazz and the symphony from Gershwin, through the “Third Stream” movement, and into the present day. The program features George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, in its seldom-heard original instrumentation, with a new interpretation by virtuoso pianist Marcus Roberts. ACO’s Music Alive Composer in Residence, Derek Bermel, has been commissioned to write The Migration Series, a major new work for the combined forces of ACO and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to be premiered as the occasion’s centerpiece. ACO principal guest conductor Steven Sloane conducts. Three performances are scheduled for 8pm, Thursday, November 16; Friday, November 17; and Saturday, November 18, at the Rose Theater, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s fabulous new home.

The collaboration extends ACO’s interest in breaking-down barriers between the world of improvisation and the orchestra-an interest that led ACO to undertake the Improvise! festival two seasons ago, and to previous commissions by composers such as Alvin Singleton, Anthony Davis and George Lewis.

Derek Bermel: The Migration Series
(World Premiere; ACO/Music Alive Commission)

Derek Bermel, Music Alive Composer in ResidenceDerek Bermel is a unique figure in American music today-a masterfully eclectic composer, clarinetist, jazz and rock musician-who boasts a decade-long relationship with ACO. As ACO’s Music Alive Composer in Residence, Bermel composes, performs, and plays a lead role in ACO’s innovative programming and educational activities.

Bermel’s The Migration Serieswas inspired by the stunning series of paintings by Jacob Lawrence. Scored for the combined forces of ACO and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Bermel says, “I have long admired Lawrence’s series and have wanted to write my own ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ based on these great American works. With this commission, I found what seems like the right medium to express some of the musical moods and gestures that came to mind when-as a child-I first came into contact with Lawrence’s paintings. They capture moments in the story of African-American migration, but they signify and embody the pain, the loneliness, the transformation, and the hope present in the migratory stories of so many peoples.”

Bermel continues, “Lawrence’s work transcends culture and epoch, so I can only hope I can write a tribute which does it justice. It is a humbling task, because the paintings continue to be relevant today, as we have watched the mass exodus from New Orleans. With the passing of the one-year anniversary of Katrina’s devastation, Lawrence’s work is a signpost which reminds us of those common themes characteristic of displacement and migration: poverty, despair, hard work, community, and hope.”

Still in his 30’s, Derek Bermel has received many of today’s most important awards, including the Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Millennium Prize from Faber Music, and residencies at the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Tanglewood, Aspen, Bowdoin, Banff, Yaddo, Sacatar, and Civitella Ranieri. His music is published by Peermusic Classical and Faber Music. Soul Garden, the first disc of his chamber music, was released in 2002 on CRI records to much acclaim. An orchestral disc is forthcoming by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. His music has been featured at festivals including De Suite Muziekweek (Amsterdam), Composers Inc. (San Francisco), Imagine (Memphis), Cactus Pear (San Antonio), Gaudeamus (Amsterdam), Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference (Iowa), Society for New Music (NY), Bowling Green (Ohio), Focus! (NY), Interlochen (Michigan), Huddersfield (UK), and Banff (Alberta). Recent commissions include the National, St. Louis, and New Jersey Symphonies, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, WNYC Radio, Westchester Philharmonic, Aspen Music Festival, Gilmore Festival, Eighth Blackbird/Greenwall Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Albany Symphony/Meet the Composer, Birmingham Royal Ballet (UK), Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, New York International Fringe Festival, New York Youth Symphony, and ACO.

Bermel’s hands-on experience with music of cultures around the world has become part of the fabric and force of Bermel’s compositional language. He studied ethnomusicology and orchestration in Jerusalem, and later traveled to Bulgaria to study the Thracian folk style, Dublin to study uillean pipes, and Ghana to study the Lobi xylophone. He trained at Yale University and the University of Michigan, and later in Amsterdam, studying composition with William Albright, Louis Andriessen, William Bolcom, Michael Tenzer, and Henri Dutilleux.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton MarsalisThe Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) (formerly known as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra), composed of many of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1988. Jazz at Lincoln Center features the versatile JLCO in nearly all aspects of its programming: the JLCO performs and leads educational events in New York, across the U.S., and around the world; in concert halls, dance venues, jazz clubs, public parks, river boats, and churches; and with symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, students, and an ever-expanding roster of guest artists. Under the leadership of Music Director Wynton Marsalis, the JLCO performs a vast repertory spanning the history of jazz, from masterpieces by composers such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, and Charles Mingus, to commissioned works by Benny Carter, Joe Henderson, Jimmy Heath, Chico O’Farrill, current and former members of the JLCO and others. Over the last few years, the JLCO has collaborated with many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Czech Philharmonic, the Boston, Chicago, and London Symphony Orchestras and others. In 2006, the JLCO collaborated with Ghanaian drum collective Odadaa!, led by Yacub Addy, to perform “Congo Square,” a composition Mr. Marsalis and Mr. Addy co-wrote and dedicated to Mr. Marsalis’ native New Orleans. The members of the JLCO frequently conduct educational events produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center, including lectures, master classes, and Jazz for Young PeopleSM concerts while on tour, and serve as mentors in the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. In 1999, the JLCO was designated a Cultural Ambassador of the United States of America under the White House Millennium Council Program. In March 2001, Mr. Marsalis was designated a United Nations Messenger of Peace by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The JLCO has appeared on television and radio broadcasts around the world including “The Tonight Show,” “Live From Lincoln Center” and a Thirteen/WNET “Great Performances” broadcast. The JLCO has recorded ten albums, the most recent recordings are Don’t Be Afraid&ldots; The Music of Charles Mingus (2005) and A Love Supreme(2005), Mr. Marsalis’ big band rendition of the original by John Coltrane, on Palmetto Records. For more information visit

Marcus Roberts, pianist

Marcus RobertsMarcus Roberts is renowned for his ability to address the entire history of jazz piano while performing in his own distinctive style. Mr. Roberts, who lost his sight at the age of five, began teaching himself to play piano at age eight. He studied classical piano at Florida State University with Leonidus Lipovetsky, during which time he won many awards and competitions, including a young artist’s competition at the National Association of Jazz Educators’ 1982 Chicago Conference. After four years at Florida State, Roberts left to tour with the Wynton Marsalis Quartet for six years. He signed his first recording contract in 1988 and subsequently enjoyed the distinction of being the first jazz musician to have his first three recordings reach number one on Billboard’s traditional jazz chart. Mr. Roberts has released over a dozen acclaimed recordings, including Deep in the Shed, Blues for the New Millennium, Gershwin for Lovers, Portraits in Blue, In Honor of Duke and more. Mr. Roberts has toured the U.S. and Europe both as a soloist as well as with his septet and trio, which includes drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Roland Guerin. Mr. Roberts and his trio are active in jazz education and regularly teach master classes and workshops for students from the elementary school level to college jazz ensembles. He was Artist-in-Residence for the 2002 Winter Olympics. His latest album is entitledNew Orleans Meets Harlem.

Wynton Marsalis, JLCO music director/trumpet

Wynton MarsalisWynton Marsalis is the Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1961, Mr. Marsalis began his classical training on trumpet at age 12 and soon began playing in local bands of diverse genres. He entered The Juilliard School at age 17 and joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Mr. Marsalis made his recording debut as a leader in 1982, and since he has recorded more than 30 jazz and classical recordings, which have won him nine GRAMMY┬« Awards. In 1983, he became the first and only artist to win both classical and jazz GRAMMYs┬« in the same year and repeated this feat in 1984. Mr. Marsalis’s rich body of compositions include Sweet Release, Jazz: Six Syncopated Movements, Jump Start, Citi Movement/Griot New York, At the Octoroon Balls, and In This House, On This Morning and Big Train.In 1997, Mr. Marsalis became the first jazz artist to be awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in music, for his oratorio Blood on the Fields,which was commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 1999, he released eight new recordings in his unprecedented “Swinging into the 21st” series, and premiered several new compositions. Recent recordings include All Rise on Sony Classical, The Magic Hour, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson and Wynton Marsalis: Live at The House Of Tribes on Blue Note records. Mr. Marsalis is also an internationally respected teacher and spokesman for music education, and has received honorary doctorates from dozens of universities and colleges throughout the U.S. He has also written three books: Sweet Swing Blues on the Road in collaboration with photographer Frank Stewart; Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life with Carl Vigeland; To a Young Musician: Letters from the Road with Selwyn Seyfu Hinds and Jazz ABZ, an A to Z collection of 26 poems celebrating jazz greats. In 2001, Mr. Marsalis was appointed Messenger of Peace by Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and he has also been designated cultural ambassador to the United States of America by the U.S. State Department through their CultureConnect program. Mr. Marsalis serves on Lieutenant Governor Landrieu’s National Advisory Board for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, a national advisory board to guide the Lieutenant Governor’s administration’s plans to rebuild Louisiana’s tourism and cultural economies. He has also been named to the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s initiative to help rebuild New Orleans culturally, socially, economically, and uniquely for every citizen. He helped lead the effort to construct Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new home – Frederick P. Rose Hall – the first education, performance, and broadcast facility devoted to jazz, which opened in October 2004.

Steven Sloane, conductor

Steven Sloane, ACO Principal Guest ConductorSteven Sloane, Principal Guest Conductor of ACO, is one of the most adventurous conductors to have emerged in recent years. His passion for unusual repertoire, interest in eclectic juxtapositions of music of divergent eras and styles, commitment to contemporary works, and willingness to challenge convention has established him as a bold champion of the future of concert music. Mr. Sloane made his Carnegie Hall debut with American Composers Orchestra in March 2002, serving as Music Director of ACO until last season. He is currently General Music Director of the City of Bochum Symphony (Germany), where he just celebrated his tenth anniversary season. He has also served as Opera and Orchestra Music Director of the Spoleto Festival (United States). With the Bochum Symphony, he has offered such eclectic programming as Monteverdi Meets Maderna and Jean Cocteau and his Paris, earning the prestigious German Publishers Award for Best Programming of the Year. Among the many composers whose works he has performed are Steve Reich, John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Zappa, Danny Elfman and Wolfgang Rihm, along with many others. Some of Maestro Sloane’s many orchestral engagements include the Orchestre National de Lyon, Berlin, Munich, and Bavarian Radio orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, London Philharmonia and the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra. Mr. Sloane’s previous collaborations with Wynton Marsalis, include multiple performances of All Rise.

Tickets & Info

Performances are November 16 – 18, 2006 at 8pm at the Rose Theater. Remaining tickets for each performance are $37.50 – $127.50 and are available online at, by calling CenterCharge at 212-721-6500, or at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office at Broadway and 60th Street.

Major support of American Composers Orchestra is provided by ACO Inner Circle, American Symphony Orchestra League, Amphion Foundation, Arlington Associates, ASCAP, ASCAP Foundation, The Bagby Foundation for the Musical Arts, Bay and Paul Foundations, Bodman Foundation, BMI, BMI Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Citigroup Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Consolidated Edison, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Fidelity Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, Henfield Foundation, Victor Herbert Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, Jerome Foundation, John and Evelyn Kossak Foundation, Neil Family Fund, The New York Community Trust, The New York State Music Fund established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Rodgers Family Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Susan and Ford Schumann Foundation, Emma A. Sheafer Charitable Trust, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, Paul Underwood Charitable Trust, The Watchdog and Sonata Charitable Trust, The Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation and The Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The residency of Derek Bermel is made possible through Music Alive, a program of the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer. This national program is designed to provide orchestras with resources and tools to support their presentation of new music to the public and build support for new music within their institutions. Funding for Music Alive is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Aaron Copland Fund for Music.