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The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP), under the direction of Artistic Director Orbert Davis, presents “The Godfather of Third Stream: Gunther Schuller” February 6, 2015 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

This project is an homage to composer, educator and NEA Jazz Master Gunther Schuller, who coined the term “Third Stream” in 1957 to describe music that combines jazz and classical techniques.

“As part of our year-long 10th year anniversary celebration, this project supports the season’s overall artistic goal of highlighting the depth and breadth of the orchestra’s repertoire and also promoting Third Stream, a signature component of the CJP aesthetic,” commented CJP Executive Director Birdie Soti.

Repertoire for “The Godfather of Third Stream: Gunther Schuller” traces the music of Third Stream from 1957 to present day, including works by the late William Russo, artistic director of Columbia College Chicago’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble and a close mentor of Orbert Davis. The program highlight is the CJP’s first-ever commission: a new work by Daniel Schnyder, a Grammy-nominated composer/performer with a dynamic reputation in both jazz and classical genres.

“Daniel is an incredibly talented classical composer and great jazz musician, making him the obvious choice for the CJP’s first commission,” said Davis. “He and I share a common approach to orchestral writing, so we personify the continuum of this genre that began with Schuller.”

Due to the CJP’s unusual orchestral structure, Schnyder’s jazz symphony will produce an aesthetic different from his previous orchestral work, which has primarily been performed using a classical symphony structure.

“I am excited to work with Orbert Davis and the CJP on this project,” Schnyder said. “The CJP musicians are unique in that they easily inhabit both the jazz and classical worlds. This provides me with a wonderful opportunity to create a ‘concerto for orchestra’ that will take music to a new level.”

For CJP, the jazz rhythm section (piano, bass, drums) serves as the core of the orchestra, anchoring the full tonal colors of a symphony orchestra (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, harp). Schuller recognizes CJP as being one of two orchestras in the world presenting Third Stream on such a large scale (the other being the Metropole Orkest in Holland).

Related programming includes a pre-concert public appearance by Davis, Schuller and Schnyder in a lively discussion on the topic “The Rebirth of Third Stream,” which will educate audiences on the intricacies of the Third Stream genre.

“The Godfather of Third Stream: Gunther Schuller” takes place Friday, February 6, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago. Tickets are available at the Symphony Center box office, by phone at 312-294-3000 or online at cso.org

Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic
Emmy-Award winning trumpeter, composer and educator Orbert Davis is co-founder, conductor and artistic director of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP), a 55+-piece symphonic jazz orchestra dedicated to bringing together audiences of diverse backgrounds through multi-genre projects. Davis has had many composer commissions and was jazz consultant to Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes for the feature film Road to Perdition starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. Recent projects include “Home and Away,” a Boeing-commissioned project to honor U.S. men and women in uniform, and his Emmy Award-winning original score for the PBS documentary DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis, produced by WTTW, which also won an Emmy Award. Davis’ latest CD release, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s Sketches of Spain [Revisited], is an orchestral transformation of the 1960 iconic original by Miles Davis and Gil Evans and is currently receiving rave reviews internationally. In 1998, Davis founded Jazz Alive (formerly MusicAlive), the CJP’s arts education outreach arm focusing on using music and the arts to teach life and academic skills. Currently running in 14 Chicago Public Schools, the program also seeks to create and develop jazz bands at the elementary school level. A summer Jazz Academy provides a two-week immersive music education and performance experience for students aged 10–17. Davis has a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from DePaul University and a master’s degree in jazz pedagogy from Northwestern University. He is a former associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and artist-in-residence at Columbia College Chicago.

Gunther Schuller
The son of German immigrants, Gunther Schuller was born in New York on November 22, 1925. He began his professional music career as a horn player, performing with the American Ballet Theater.  Schuller also launched his jazz career as a French horn player on Miles Davis’s Birth of the Cool recording (1949–50). From 1967 to 1977, he served as president of the New England Conservatory, establishing the first degree-granting jazz program at a major classical conservatory in 1969. Shortly thereafter, he instituted the Third Stream Department (subsequently named the Contemporary Improvisation Department) to explore the regions where the two musical “streams” of classical and jazz meet and mingle (Schuller had coined the term “Third Stream” during a lecture he gave at Brandeis University in 1957). He insisted that contemporary music have equal billing next to the acknowledged classical masterpieces and students be equally adept at performing both. Schuller has composed more than 180 works spanning all musical genres, many epitomizing the Third Stream style.

Daniel Schnyder
Daniel Schnyder, born in 1961 in Zurich, is a composer/performer with a dynamic reputation in both the jazz and classical fields. His orchestral works and his chamber music compositions have been performed and recorded all over the world. As an arranger/composer he produced albums for jazz artists Abdullah Ibrahim (African Suite), Lee Konitz (Tribute to Billie Holiday) and Paquito D’Rivera (Habañera). In 1999 and 2000, Schnyder was the composer in residence with the Milwaukee Symphony. He is currently writing a Pipa Concerto commissioned by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and his opera, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, will have its premiere with Opera Philadelphia in June 2015. His orchestra work DRAkool will have its debut American performance with the American Composers Orchestra in February 2015 at Carnegie Hall.

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