Greensboro Symphony Orchestra presents The Brubeck Brothers Quartet
By: Heather Dukes
The Brubeck Brothers will emulate classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach while showcasing their original artistic capabilities in their concert series “Bach to Brubeck” coming to Greensboro from Feb. 22-24 at 8 p.m. The quartet is set to play three shows at Guilford College Dana Auditorium (located at 710 Levi Coffin Dr.) and the University of North Carolina Greensboro School of Music Recital Hall (located at 100 McIver St.).
According to the press release sent out by the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, the shows on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24 held at Dana Auditorium are two identical shows apart of the Tanger Outlets Masterworks Series that will feature The Brubeck Brothers Quartet, which is made up of Dan Brubeck (drums), Chris Brubeck (bass and trombone), Mike DeMicco (guitar) and Chuck Lamb (piano) and the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra as accompaniment with Dmitry Sitkovetsky as the conductor. The Feb. 23 show at the UNCG School of Music Recital Hall is apart of The Rice Toyota Sitkovetsky & Friends Chamber Series and will feature Sitkovetsky (violin), Jennifer Alexandra Johnston (cello), Chris Brubeck, (electric fretless bass), Dan Brubeck (drums), Debra Reuter-Pivetta (flute), Ashley Barrett (oboe), Kelly Burke (clarinet), Carol Bernsdorf (bassoon), Robert Cambell (horn) and John Salmon (piano).
The setlist for the Masterworks Series will include “Chorale BWV 147” (with transcription by Leopold Stokowski) by Bach, “Brandenburg Gate” by Dave Brubeck, “Brandenburg Concerto #3” by Bach, “Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra” by Chris Brubeck and of course the quartet’s “In Your Own Sweet Way/Koto Song/Blue Rondo a La Turk/Take Five.” At the Chamber Series the setlist includes “Prelude in D Minor, BWV 851” by Bach, “Brandenburg Gate” by Dave Brubeck “Trio Sonata from Musical Offering BWV 1079” by Bach, “Crescent City Suite for Woodwind Quintet and drums” by Chris Brubeck, “Dunes at Dawn” from “Vignettes for Nonet” by Chris Brubeck, “Celebration de Vida” from “Danza del Soul” by Chris Brubeck, “A Song for Bessie” by Dave Brubeck, “Reverie d’lvoire” by Chris Brubeck and “Dziękuję” by Dave Brubeck.
Daniel Crupi, Chief Operating Officer for GSO, wrote in an email that this show is a unique crossover for the symphony because it will be the first time jazz artists will be featured in the Masterwork Series.
“In doing so, we are affirming the belief that jazz, often considered America’s most significant contribution to classical music, is just as worthy an art form to feature on a classical series as the masterpieces of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, etc.” Crupi wrote.
Crupi stated that GSO is most excited to collaborate with “outstanding musicians” such as the Brubeck Brother Quartet because they are, “at the top of their field in terms of artistic quality.”
“Presenting a crossover show that is a bit outside the box is also exciting for us, particularly as we strive to innovate and experiment in the years leading up to the Tanger Center,” Crupi wrote.
Crupi went on to write that these upcoming shows, and the Brubeck family in general, have ties to Greensboro. Crupi wrote that Salmon, who is a Ph.D. and professor of piano at UNCG, is considered one of the “world’s leading authorities on the music of the legendary Dave Brubeck, the father of Chris and Dan.”
Crupi wrote that another significant connection is through Symphony board member Donald DeRosa, who was the former Provost of UNCG and President of the University of the Pacific.
“During his tenure at the University of the Pacific, Don established the Brubeck Institute,” Crupi wrote. “In honor, and with the assistance, of Dave Brubeck, who graduated from Pacific.”
Crupi wrote that DeRosa helped arrange the entire performance by connecting GSO with the Brubeck Brothers. Crupi added that Sitkovetsky has known Chris Brubeck for many years and “worked closely with him to develop this exciting program.”
Crupi forwarded my questions to Chris Brubeck to see if he would be willing to respond. He was, and Crupi emailed me his responses.
Chris Brubeck wrote in the email that the quartet is always excited to collaborate with orchestras. He wrote that the quartet is especially excited to collaborate with “our long-time family friend” and “valuable colleague” Salmon (who he states is a leading expert on his father’s piano music) as well as work with Sitkovetsky on the podium. He is also excited to work with DeRosa and states that DeRosa has “always understood and valued my parents’ talents, legacy, global reach and most of all, their humanity. He was instrumental in forming the Brubeck Institute at UOP in Stockton, CA and has done important work to keep the music and legacy of my parents alive for future generations.”
Chris Brubeck wrote that doing this concert with Sitkovetsky is meaningful because he believes he and Sitkovetsky “were both meant to do music in this lifetime.”
“It’s going to be very rewarding to collaborate with Dmitry to bring all this interesting music to Greensboro,” Chris Brubeck wrote. “He has infused this program that he personally designed to include the Grand Master of All Time: J.S. Bach. All the great jazz musicians love Bach and have taken great inspiration from his music. His use of improvisation in the original versions and use of figured bass which is very much like chord changes for a jazz musician is part of how his genius creates a bridge between the worlds of classical and jazz music. You’ll experience examples of this integration in this week’s programs.”
Chris Brubeck wrote that the Chamber Series is going to be fun because they will play movements from some of his compositions that don’t get played too often. “Extra fun for me that Dmitry will be playing violin on ‘Danza del Soul,’” he wrote.
Tickets for “Bach to Brubeck” Masterwork Series range from $34-$46, and student tickets are $6. Tickets for the Chamber Series are $32, and student tickets are $6. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster or by calling the GSO box office at (336) 335-5456 extension 224. For more information, visit the Greensboro Symphony website.
Heather Dukes is a Guilford College alumna and intern at YES! Weekly from Trinity, North Carolina.