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“Homegrown” Jazz Musicians Perform at Yale Oct. 4

beinecke-JWJThe Ellington Jazz Series at the Yale School of Music presents a concert called “Homegrown on Common Ground” on Friday, October 4 at 7 pm. The concert celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library by featuring jazz, blues, and art songs from the James Weldon Johnson collection, housed at the Library. The performers all have ties to New Haven.


Published September 12, 2013
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Ellington Jazz Series presents the second “Homegrown on Common Ground” Concert November 12

New Haven’s Ben Allison, bassist and composer for NPR’s “On the Media,” is featured with his band; St. Luke’s Steel Band and Andy Akiho return

After the success of the first “Homegrown on Common Ground” concert last April, the Ellington Jazz Series at the Yale School of Music revisits the theme of having musicians from Yale and New Haven share the stage of Sprague Hall for an evening of exciting and creative music.

The first “Common Ground” concert caused a sensation with a jazz piano trio, a 20-member steel band, and leading-edge music written by several Yale composers for an eclectic instrumental ensemble that included steel pans alongside a rhythm section, winds, and strings. The second “Homegrown on Common Ground” concert on Friday, November 12 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall (470 College Street) picks up where the first concert left off.

Director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship, Willie Ruff, has invited several of the performers to return as well as the featured guest artist, Ben Allison, the jazz bassist and composer of music for NPR’s “On the Media.” Allison is a native of New Haven who studied music at the Educational Center for the Arts and who played his first professional gigs on the salsa circuit in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He will perform with his band, which includes Jenny Scheinman, violin; Michael Blake, saxophones; Steve Cardenas, guitar; and Rudy Royston, drums. Returning by popular demand is the St. Luke’s Steel Band from New Haven, directed by Deborah Teason, and steel pan virtuoso Andy Akiho. Akiho will again appear with the St. Luke’s Band, as well as with the Yale Steel Band and the Common Ground Ensemble.  Four composer/performers – Andy Akiho (steel pans), Deborah Teason, Samuel Adams (bass), and Paul Kerekes (piano) – have written pieces that will be premiered by this group, which features three pan players in addition to piano, bass, drums, and violin.

“These young musicians are creating some of the most exciting and original music I’ve heard in a long time,” says Ruff. “I think we’re seeing history being made by these composer-performers.”

Tickets to the concert are $12 to $20, $7 with student ID. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit music.yale.edu or call the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158.

Panel Discussion,  “A Vision for the Future of Music”

The next day, November 13 at 10 am in Sudler Recital Hall, 100 Wall Strett (next door to Sprague Hall), Willie Ruff will be joined by Ben Alliston, Andy Akiho, and several of the other performers of the previous night’s concert in a wide-ranging panel discussion, “A Vision for the Future of Music,” that will explore the future of new music: the most promising trends in creative music-making, the kinds of venues where audiences will hear this music, the ressurgence of the composer-performer, and more. According to Ruff, “The question I intend to ask is, ‘In today’s rapidly changing musical landscape, what kind of tomorrow should the now emerging music makers be preparing for?'” Admission is free. MORE

Published October 20, 2010
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Home Grown Stars: Yale’s Ellington Program honors performing arts schools in a free concert October 1

Groups from Neighborhood Music School, Co-Op High, and ECA will perform

The Yale School of Music and the Duke Ellington Fellowship will celebrate the contributions of three New Haven performing arts schools on Friday, October 1 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall (located in Sprague Hall, 470 College Street, New Haven). The jazz concert, “Home Grown Stars,” will feature current and past students from the Cooperative Arts and Humanities Interdistrict Magnet High School (Co-Op), Educational Center for the Arts (ECA), and the Neighborhood Music School.

“After 38 years of active participation in music education, the Duke Ellington Fellowship is proud to showcase these three performing institutions that are unequalled in any city that I know of,” says Willie Ruff, professor of music and director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship Program at Yale. “These institutions deserve recognition. The Neighborhood Music School grew out of the settlement house movement, and over the past century many Yale students have honed their skills as teachers there. ECA was founded later, based on a new idea – having working artists to teach high school students – and it draws on a wide range of talent. The Co-Op has had a longstanding relationship with Yale and does a great job in nurturing the talents of our young people. They represent the next generation of performing artists.”

Each of the three schools will present its own set on the stage of Sprague Hall. The Premiere Jazz Ensemble from the Neighborhood Music School (NMS) is an eight-piece group composed of high school students and adults that will perform under the direction of Jeff Fuller. A nine-piece group from ECA, also directed by Fuller, will play with vocalist Erica Bryan, who is now a student at the Hartt School. A group of 15 musicians from CoOp High will play a variety of music under lead teacher Patrick Smith. A 35-voice chorus from CoOp High, under Harriett Alfred, will also perform. MORE

Published September 20, 2010
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“Home Grown on Common Ground” concert features local stars

St. Luke’s Steel Band and Christian Sands, along with Yale performers Andy Akiho and friends

St. Luke's Steel Band

For the spring concert on the Ellington Jazz Series, artistic director Willie Ruff has gathered together an unusual array of talent from the New Haven area and Yale University for an exciting program. The concert is called “Home Grown on Common Ground,” and takes place on Friday, April 23, 2010 at 8 pm in Sprague Hall. The cast of local performers includes the remarkable 25-member St. Luke’s Steel Band and the Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Christian Sands with Thadeus Exposé on bass and Arti Dixson on drums. Among the Yale performers is composer and steel pan virtuoso Andy Akiho, who will perform with the St. Luke’s Steel Band and with a large ensemble of woodwind, string, and brass players from the Yale School of Music.

The program will include music by steel pan players Liam Teague and Andy Akiho, Yale graduate composers Sam Adams and Richard Harrold, and the piece Fire Down Below by popular steel pan composer Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. Teague, a native of Trinidad and Tobago who serves on the faculty at Northern Illinois University, has been called “the Paganini of the steel pan.” Akiho is a composer and percussionist who “shreds on the steel pan, defying stereotypes about what kind of music that instrument is intended for” (Hartford Advocate). Akiho, Adams, and Harrold are all students in the Yale School of Music’s graduate program in composition. MORE

Published March 30, 2010
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