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Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Duke Ellington's Sacred Music Project





Rehearsals Now Underway In Year-Long Creative Learning Project, Presented by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in Partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, Which Explores Ellington’s Celebrated Works and Provides Students With Opportunity to Perform at Carnegie Hall with World-Class Jazz Musicians

(November 21, 2013; NEW YORK, NY)––Rehearsals are now underway as high school singers from five New York City public schools and a community youth choir join together with young instrumentalists from the recently launched Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra (JLCYO) to prepare for an exciting March 2014 concert at Carnegie Hall. This performance is the culmination of a year-long creative learning project spotlighting Duke Ellington’s legendary sacred music.

Created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI), in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, this first-ever jazz-focused creative learning project at Carnegie Hall includes rehearsals with student singers and instrumentalists over the next few months, a daylong exploration of jazz vocal technique and improvisation, and creative workshops with composers and songwriters throughout the city inspired by the aspirational messages of Ellington’s music. The project culminates on Sunday, March 23 at 3:00 p.m with a performance of selections from Ellington’s Sacred Concerts in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. Conducted by jazz composer, arranger and recognized authority on the music of Duke Ellington and the Swing era David Berger, the performance also features special guest soloists tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath, soprano Nicole Cabell, trumpeter and composer Sean Jones, trombonist and JLYCO Director Vincent Gardner, and tap dancer Jared Grimes.

“Duke Ellington is one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th Century and his artistic vision of affirmation is exactly the kind of message that resonates with young people in New York City,” said Sarah Johnson, Director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “We are thrilled to bring together talented young musicians from all corners of our great city, and to work closely with Jazz at Lincoln Center in celebration of Duke Ellington’s legacy.”

The New York City choirs participating in the performance of Ellington’s Sacred Music include the community youth choir Songs of Solomon, and choirs from Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music, Forest Hills High School, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Talent Unlimited High School, and Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts. Damien Sneed, who serves as choral preparer on the project. The student singers will join the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra for the first time at a rehearsal on Tuesday, December 3 at the Steven Wise Synagogue on the Upper West Side, followed by joint workshops and rehearsals throughout January and February leading up to the Carnegie Hall performance.

At the same time, teaching artists from WMI began working with composers from three of the participating high schools, as well as sites connected with Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections, a program that provides free musical events, ranging from concerts to songwriting and composition workshops for people in need across New York City. These creative sessions will be focused on the theme of “affirmation,” which is central to Ellington’s sacred music. Also, WMI’s online community for young musicians, Musical Exchange, will host Arranging Ellington, a project that encourages young composers to create new arrangements of recordings and scores from Ellington’s sacred repertoire. Select compositions from all six composition projects will be performed at a Carnegie Hall concert on Sunday, March 30, in Zankel Hall.

For journalists interested in observing upcoming workshops or rehearsals, please contact Samantha Nemeth at snemeth@carnegiehall.org/212-903-9753 for a full schedule.

Tying together elements of jazz, blues, choral and classical music with African-American spirituals and gospel, Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music crossed the lines dividing secular and religious musical genres, while punctuating the ever-expanding role of jazz in America and throughout the world. Ellington composed three programs of sacred music, and, in his lifetime, each was performed once—the first at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco in 1965; the second at St. John the Divine, here in New York City, in 1968; and the last at Westminster Abbey in London in 1973. Following these historic concerts, Ellington called the performances, “the most important thing I have ever done.” The March 2014 culminating performance of this Ellington creative learning project will include a collection of pieces drawn from those three concerts.

In recent seasons, Carnegie Hall has offered large-scale creative learning projects in which New York City high school students explore great musical works, preparing for a culminating concert in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, while working with a professional orchestra, professional soloists, and a well-known conductor. These intensive projects are designed to nurture and showcase exemplary student work through multiple months of rehearsal and preparation, elevating student performance to a professional level, and creating transformational experiences for all involved. Past projects have included The Rite of Spring Project (November 2007), The Bernstein Mass Project (December 2008), Too Hot to Handel (November 2010), The Carmina Burana Choral Project (February 2012), and La Pasión según San Marcos (March 2013).

About Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute
The Weill Music Institute creates visionary programs that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education. With unparalleled access to the world’s greatest artists, the Weill Music Institute inspires audiences of all ages, nurtures tomorrow’s musical talent, and harnesses the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. An integral part of Carnegie Hall’s concert season, these programs facilitate creative expression, develop musical skills and capacities at all levels, and encourage participants to make lifelong personal connections to music. The Weill Music Institute generates new knowledge through original research and shares a wide range of free online resources with educators and music lovers around the globe. More than 400,000 people each year engage in the Weill Music Institute’s programs through national and international partnerships, in New York City schools and community settings, and at Carnegie Hall.

About Jazz at Lincoln Center
The mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for Jazz through performance, education and advocacy. With the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and guest artists spanning genres and generations, Jazz at Lincoln Center produces thousands of performance, education, and broadcast events each season in its home in New York City (Frederick P. Rose Hall, “The House of Swing”) and around the world, for people of all ages. Now in its 26th year, Jazz at Lincoln Center is led by Chairman Robert J. Appel, Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, and Executive Director Greg Scholl. Please visit us at jazz.org; follow us on Twitter @JALCNYC and Facebook; watch our free, global webcasts at new.livestream.com/jazz; and enjoy concerts, education programs, behind-the-scenes footage, programs and more at youtube.com/jazzatlincolncenter

Program Information
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage

David Berger, Music Director

Nicole Cabell, Soprano
Sean Jones, Trumpet
Jimmy Heath, Tenor Saxophone
Jared Grimes, Tap Dancer
Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra
Vincent Gardner, Director
Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music
Forest Hills High School
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
Songs of Solomon
Talent Unlimited High School
Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts
Damien Sneed, Choral Preparation
Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Advisor

Selections from Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts

"In The Beginning God"
"Ain't But The One"
"Will You Be There?"
"Praise God"
"Tell Me It's The Truth"
"Twenty-Third Psalm"
"Come Sunday"
"David Danced"
"Almighty God Has Those Angels"
"The Shepherd"
"It's Freedom"
"Reflections in D"
"Don't Get Down On Your Knees To Pray"
"Father Forgive"
"Praise God And Dance"
"Dance Finale"


Tickets: $15—$35


Lead support for Ellington's Sacred Music is provided by The Irene Diamond Fund.

Additional support is provided, in part, by an endowment grant from The Irene Diamond Fund.

Ticket Information
Tickets, priced $15—$35, are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org.

For Carnegie Hall Corporation presentations taking place in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, a limited number of seats, priced at $10, will be available day-of-concert beginning at 11:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:00 noon on Sunday until one hour before the performance or until supply lasts. The exceptions are Carnegie Hall Family Concerts and gala events. These $10 tickets are available to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis at the Carnegie Hall Box Office only. There is a two-ticket limit per customer.

In addition, for all Carnegie Hall presentations in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage a limited number of partial view (seats with obstructed or limited sight lines or restricted leg room) will be sold for 50% of the full price. For more information on this and other discount ticket programs, including those for students, Notables members, and Bank of America customers, visit carnegiehall.org/discounts.