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Bloomington Symphony’s “Jazz in the Concert Hall”

The Bloomington Symphony presents Jazz in the Concert Hall.  On the program are works by George Gershwin, David Baker, Antonin Dvorak and Dmitri Shostakovich

BSO Artistic Director and Conductor Charles Latshaw reflected that the Gershwin Concerto had its premiere as part of an evening that was labeled “experimental music” with Paul Whiteman and his orchestra accompanying Gershwin. In Latshaw’s words, “it was an experiment that worked.”

But how did it work and where is the piece in the musical spectrum? Indiana University Jacobs School of Music jazz faculty member Luke Gillespie will be the soloist for the concert. Latshaw told George Walker that, “Luke says that classical pianists think the Gershwin work is jazz, and jazz pianists think it is classical.” Latshaw said that he’s leaning on Gillespie’s background and asking him to make it jazzier.

The other jazz piece on the program is David Baker’s “Shades of Blue.” Latshaw commented that, “He’s taken twelve bar blues, but he’s working in extended forms often with a waltz feel. The orchestra is standard with the sort of instrumentation that you’d find in early Beethoven.”

Other pieces include a Dvorak overture and a Shostakovich piece for jazz band. Latshaw admits that neither are jazz pieces, but he says the Dvorak “uses folk music the way that Gershwin used Tin Pan Alley as a background and resource.” And he notes that although the Shostakovich has nothing to do with jazz, it was written for a small sort of jazzy group.

“Our concert, like the original with Gershwin and Paul Whiteman, is still a bit of an experiment, but one that we think the audience will very much enjoy.”

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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