Classical music and jazz have intersected for many decades, but how many symphony orchestras do you know that have an entire artistic department devoted to jazz? The Los Angeles Philharmonic does, and it's the only major American orchestra to express such a deep commitment to jazz.
Herbie Hancock, the 71-year-old keyboard icon, is the orchestra's Creative Chair for Jazz, a position that was created in 2002 and was previously held by Dianne Reeves and Christian McBride. Hancock's tenure began last year and his contract runs through the 2012-13 season.
Jazz and classical join hands for the LA Philharmonic's opening night gala, Tuesday, Sept. 27. Hancock will take the stage alongside L.A. Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel for a performance of Rhapsody in Blue, part of an all-Gershwin program that also includes the Cuban Overture and An American in Paris.
That's what we know about Tuesday night's gala. In the true jazz spirit, I've also been told to expect a few surprises. In a recent interview backstage at Walt Disney Concert Hall, L.A. Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda told me even she isn't privy to the evening's full playlist.
"Herbie and Gustavo, we were at a dinner together when this all got cooked up, and they just really like each other and it's wonderful to see two masters of that type interacting and talking about all these wild ideas," Borda said. "So, I'm not quite sure what will happen on the stage, but I know it will be mostly Gershwin."
Hear the spontaneous combustion of jazz and classical — with all the surprises — in a live broadcast and webcast (on this page) thanks to Classical KUSC and American Public Media.
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