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NEC’s Jazz Studies Department Presents The Music of George Russell with the NEC Jazz Orchestra on October 16

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Conducted by Ben Schwendener and Featuring Saxophonist George Garzone

Thursday, October 16 at Brown Hall


NEC faculty member Ben Schwendener will lead the NEC Jazz Orchestra in The Music of George Russell, a program featuring excerpts from several of Russell’s most ambitious works, as well as “All About Rosie,” traditionally included in all Russell programs. The concert takes place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 16 at NEC’s Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA. The concert is free and open to the public.

The program includes the following Russell works: Listen to the Silence, Parts I and II; All About Rosie; The African Game, Events III, IV, V and VI, featuring NEC faculty member George Garzone on tenor saxophone; Vertical Form VI; and Ezz-thetics, as well as Ben Schwendener’s La Folia - the Roccella Variations and Schwendener’s Insight, Events I, II, III, and IV.

Russell (1923-2009) taught at NEC for some 35 years and for many of those, students in the NEC Jazz Orchestra worked with Russell to prepare an end-of-semester concert of his music. Through coaching and rehearsals, they were exposed to Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept and his Vertical Form approach to composition, which demanded a high level of alertness and intuition from soloing players.

Works to be performed include “Listen to the Silence,” “Vertical Form,” and “The African Game.” The concert will include two of Russell’s best-known compositions, “All About Rosie” and “Ezz-thetics,” as well as “La Folia,” a piece co-composed by Schwendener and Russell.

Composer / pianist Ben Schwendener sustains a unique voice in contemporary creative music. A leading authority on George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, Schwendener has helped to establish a new direction in natural pedagogy and dialogue-based arts education. A prolific composer, he has created music for small and large ensembles, dance companies, film, video and art installations, and written volumes of piano music for ‘Children of All Ages’. He performs frequently with his many ensembles and on solo piano throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan. He has produced eight CDs as leader / co-leader. An editorial assistant to the late George Russell, Schwendener is a certified teacher of the Lydian Chromatic Concept and is on the Faculty at New England Conservatory from which he received his Bachelor’s of Music in Jazz Studies. He is also founder and director of Gravity Arts, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing customized educational services and products for individuals, groups and corporations.

NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became President of the Conservatory in 1967, the Jazz Studies faculty has included six MacArthur “genius" grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters, and alumni that reads like a who’s who of jazz. Now in its 44th year, the program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers. As Mike West writes in JazzTimes: “NEC’s jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world; so says the roster of visionary artists that have comprised both its faculty and alumni.” The program currently has 98 students; 54 undergraduate and 44 graduate students from 14 countries.

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