Nov 17, 2015
The worlds of classical music and jazz lost a leading light earlier this year when Gunther Schuller passed away at the age of 89. Since the Pulitzer-winning composer would have celebrated his 90th birthday on November 22, it seems appropriate that two of Boston’s leading musical ensembles—the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and Odyssey Opera— will unite onstage for a special concert honoring his memory. To make it even more special, the concert with be on the campus of the New England Conservatory in Boston, a place he helped build and make flourish over the years.
Gil Rose will lead BMOP in two enjoyable narratives for all ages, Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz and The Fisherman and His Wife, joined by Gunther’s sons Ed Schuller (bass) and George Schuller (drums) as special guest artists, and Odyssey Opera, featuring Met Opera regular, mezzo-soprano Sondra Kelly. Rounding out the program will be Schuller’s sinfonietta work Games.
Ranking among the most eclectic of his generation or any other, Schuller combined jazz and classical music in new ways. He was a part of Miles Davis’ The Birth of the Cool project, and took those concepts to a new level with a revolutionary, hybrid style that became known as “Third Stream,” and entered the classical music mainstream. Schuller served as President of the New England Conservatory, where he established a successful degree-granting jazz program, from 1967-1977. He made his home in Newton, MA, and passed away on June 21, 2015 in Boston at the age of 89.
Whether you consider his work jazz or classical, we must consider Gunther Schuller a giant in 20th century American music. Podcast 505 is my talk with Gil Rose about his late collaborator and friend, featuring musical selections from Schuller’s jazz related history, including “Transformation” from The Birth of the Third Stream, which features jazz stars like Art Farmer (trumpet), Jimmy Knepper (trombone) and Bill Evans (piano); “Variants for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra” from Journey into Jazz; and “The Soul” an excerpt from Charles Mingus’ Epitaph, which Schuller conducted when it finally was performed almost twenty-five years ago.
Sunday, November 22 at 3:00 p.m. (pre-concert talk 2:00 p.m.) Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA, T: Green to Symphony. General $20-$50/Students $10. To purchase, contact BMOP at BMOP.org or by telephone 718.324.0396. Also available from the Jordan Hall box office in person or online at tix.com.