Rhapsody In Blue. 100th Anniversary Season

Artists Offering “Rhapsody In Blue” Projects & Performances


Béla Fleck
American banjo master and pioneer Béla Fleck has transcribed Rhapsody in Blue, featuring his banjo as the solo instrument with orchestra. One of Béla’s first experiences playing in an orchestra, as a student, was playing the banjo as a rhythm part in Rhapsody, so he is thrilled to explore and celebrate this work in a new way, on his iconic American instrument. “Mr. Fleck can lay claim to the title of the most popular living banjoist, having done much to push the instrument beyond the bluegrass terra firma into jazz, classical and beyond” The New York Times.
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Aaron Diehl
Inspired by the ­radical artistic statement made by Rhapsody in Blue, composer Michael Schachter’s new piece for pianist Aaron Diehl will be ­written for orchestra, chamber orchestra, and big band. At once temporal and ethereal — deliberate in touch and texture — Aaron Diehl’s expression transforms the piano into an orchestral vessel in the spirit of beloved predecessors Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum and Jelly Roll Morton. “Diehl proved an ideal interpreter for this music, rattling off the technical demands without fear and investing the concerto’s melodic strains with expressive delicacy” San Francisco Chronicle.
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Conrad Tao
Pianist Conrad Tao is writing a companion piece to Rhapsody in Blue with instrumentation that will be the same as the original jazz band version. The new work premieres with the Santa Rosa Symphony in May 2024. Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer and has been dubbed “the kind of musician who is shaping the future of classical music” by New York Magazine. As a composer, his work has been performed by orchestras globally; his first large scale orchestral work, Everything Must Go, received its world premiere with the New York Philharmonic.
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Conrad Tao & Caleb Teicher: Counterpoint
Counterpoint is a collaboration between pianist and ­composer Conrad Tao and ­choreographer and ­dancer Caleb Teicher. The duo explore the dichotomy of their ­different perspectives and ­artistic practices.Harmonic, rhythmic, and theatrical ­counterpoint between the ­artists seeks to map out ­constellations linking their ­disparate traditions, driving the ­imagination and ­opening the heart. The ­stylistically diverse music of Counterpoint includes the Aria from Bach’s ­Goldberg Variations, Art Tatum’s demented stride piano, Arnold Schoenberg’s ironic take on the ­Viennese waltz, a delicate miniature from Tao and Teicher’s More Forever, and threading it all ­together, a work that ­bridges traditions, approaches, and styles—Gershwin’s ­Rhapsody in Blue. Tao and ­Teicher’s earlier work, More Forever, is a Bessie Award-winning, New York Times ­critic’s pick which was lauded for “constantly extending the sonic aspects of dance.”
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Teddy Abrams & Morgan James
S’Wonderful: The Music of George Gershwin
Conductor, pianist, and Music Director Teddy Abrams, “an unstoppable force” (Arts Louisville), continues his sweeping collaboration with vocalist Morgan James, “a phenomenal talent…” (The New York Times). Along with Rhapsody In Blue, S’Wonderful: The Music of George Gershwin is a program for orchestra that includes other favorites from Porgy & Bess, Girl Crazy, Strike Up The Band, and more.
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The Knights: The Rhapsody Project
Rhapsody is The Knights’ new, multi-year initiative that comprises commissions, performances, recordings, and educational initiatives, inspired by the example of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and its upcoming centennial in 2024. Gershwin’s strikingly original and imaginative work, combining influences from jazz and classical music, came to embody the cultural zeitgeist of the Roaring Twenties. Through this project, The Knights will explore our current cultural moment in collaboration with some of today’s most animating cultural voices.

Over the next three years, The Knights will present a series of commissions and collaborations with a diverse group of composers and guest soloists who connect classical music with other musical traditions, and who are committed to using their art to explore and redefine today’s classical music landscape. Confirmed participants include Chris Thile, Jessie Montgomery, Gabriel Kahane, Du Yun, Aaron Diehl, Anthony McGill, Wu Man, Kayhan Kalhor, Allison Loggins-Hull, Michael Schachter, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus, with many more to be announced as the project unfolds.

In addition to highlighting The Knights’ genre-blurring programming and virtuosic musicianship, Rhapsody will feature performances throughout New York City, across the country, and around the world, and it will include integrated educational components in partnership with youth orchestras, colleges and universities, young composers, and music students of all ages.

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Inon Barnatan *BA
Janice Carissa *BA
George Li *BA
Anne-Marie McDermott *BA
Drew Petersen *BA
Conrad Tao *BA
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