Aruan Ortiz Trio: Free Concert at Mason Gross Performing Arts Center


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New Brunswick, NJ -- Acclaimed pianist Aruan Ortiz brings his hypnotic blend of avant-garde jazz and world music to Nicholas Music Center on Thursday, February 11. The Aruan Ortiz Trio features the Grammy Award-nominated Ignacio Berroa on drums and Ed Howard on bass. Their appearance inaugurates Rutgers University's Common Purposes Concert Series.

“You know there's all this musical depth (with Ortiz), but in performance he's able to build dynamically something from start to end," says Carlos Fernandez, an ethnomusicologist and the director of the university's Center for Latino Arts and Culture. “He has the capacity to improvise on a basic theme and create an architecture that takes you on a trip through very different moments, some sublime, some new, exotic. That's a rare, rare capability."

Fernandez says the performance will showcase Afro-Cuban rhythmic motifs along with muscular bass lines in original compositions such as Alameda and Green City, as well as an arrangement of Frederic Chopin's Etude No. 6, Op. 10. The program will also feature the world premiere of Ortiz's The Heir, written for his newborn son.

The free performance begins at 8 p.m. Thursday, February 11, and is sponsored by the Mason Gross School of the Arts Music Department in partnership with the Center for Latino Arts and Culture, the Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes, and the Rutgers University Programming Association. Ortiz will be on hand from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, February 10, at the Nicholas Music Center to lead a workshop with students in the Mason Gross Jazz program. The musical exchange, free of charge and open to the public, will allow audiences a more intimate glimpse of Ortiz and his creative process. No tickets are necessary for either event.

Nicholas Music Center is in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street (between Route 18 and Ryders Lane), on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit Mason Gross on the web or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 732-932-7511.

About Aruan Ortiz

Aruan Ortiz was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1973. He is a classically trained violist and pianist. In 1995, he won Best Cuban Composition at the Symposium of Cuban Music, Jamaica, and soon after was discovered by the Spanish record label Magic Music/Universal Latino, which brought him to Spain to participate in the recording project La Isla de la Musica (1996). This project is recognized as one of the first albums to bring Cuban music to the European and American mainstream.

While in Europe, Ortiz was the recipient of various awards, including Best Jazz Interpretation, Festival de Jazz in Vic, Spain (2000), and semifinalist, Jas Hennessy Piano Solo Competition, Montreux, Switzerland (2001). Later, in the United States, Ortiz participated in the recording of the definitive Miles Davis tribute record on Columbia Records with Davis' nephew Vince Wilburn, Missy Elliot, and others. The recent recording of his CD Alameda (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2009) received four stars in Jazzwise magazine and was named one of the Top Ten Jazz CDs of the year.

About the Common Purposes Concert Series

The new Common Purposes Concert Series will feature jazz and world music. The series is a project of Rutgers University's Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes, founded in 1987 to promote inter-cultural dialogue, reduce bias and hate crimes, honor diversity throughout the university, and enrich the relationship between the university and the surrounding community.

About the Center for Latino Arts and Culture

The Center for Latino Arts and Culture (CLAC) was established in 1992 to research, document, interpret and promote Latino/a, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Latin American arts and culture. CLAC has developed courses at Rutgers that focus on Latino heritage and issues and sponsors programming and publications on the subject, as well.

About Mason Gross School of the Arts

Founded in 1976, Mason Gross School of the Arts is the arts conservatory of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and is home to the departments of dance, music, theater arts, and visual arts. Its faculty and alumni rosters include arts professionals recognized nationally and internationally. The school's enrollment of 620 undergraduates across four departments and 314 graduate students across three departments, combined with a faculty of 140, assures students the opportunity to work closely with accomplished artists within their fields.

About Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

A comprehensive research institution with more than 50,000 students on three main campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden, Rutgers comprises one of the major state university systems in the nation. Chartered in 1766 in New Brunswick as Queens College, Rutgers is the eighth-oldest institution of higher learning in the nation.

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