The Hartt School of the University of Hartford presents a Collaborative Concert of American Music featuring great American musical treasures, as well as selections from Hartt’s newly acquired Jack Elliott Collection, on Friday, April 20, at 7:30 PM in Millard Auditorium. This celebration of American music features the Hartt Symphony Orchestra, along with students from the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, and special guests John Clayton and Hartt alumnus Michael Barrett, as well as remarks by Hartt alumna and Grammy award-winning entertainer Dionne Warwick. Please call the University of Hartford Box Office at 860.768.4228 or 800.274.8587 or visit www.hartford.edu/hartt for tickets and up-to-date scheduling information for all performances. Admission is $20 with discounts for seniors, students, and groups. Traffic and parking advisory: Other major events also are taking place on the University campus that evening, potentially causing traffic and parking delays; please plan accordingly.
The first half of the program features the Hartt Symphony Orchestra performing “Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story, by Leonard Bernstein, and “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin, both conducted by Hartt alumnus Michael Barrett. Mr. Barrett has been the artistic director of the Caramoor Festival for the past eight seasons. A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, Barrett has earned an international reputation as a conductor, pianist, administrator, and champion of American music.
The second half of the program, conducted by Hartt’s Director of Orchestral Activities Edward Cumming and also including performers from Hartt’s Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, features six symphonic pieces commissioned by the Foundation for New American Music. Jack Elliott, a West Hartford native and alumnus of The Hartt School who graduated in 1951 and was named Hartt Alumnus of the Year in 1975, started the Foundation 1978. Elliott was a prominent television and film composer, conductor, music arranger, and television producer, who served as music director for the Grammy Awards for 30 years. His most well-known television work includes the theme songs to Night Court, Charlie’s Angels, and Barney Miller. Elliott died in 2001.
The Hartt School recently received the large collection of music associated with Mr. Elliott's Foundation for New American Music thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Bobbi Elliott. The Collection is a unique and invaluable trove of more than 350 commissioned works, largely symphonic works with jazz influences, by nearly 100 composers, including Erich Korngold, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Ray Brown, and Mr. Elliott himself. Elliott also created two professional orchestras to perform the work in the collection. Mrs. Elliott and other members of the Elliott family will be in attendance for this inaugural concert of music from The Jack Elliott Collection.
This concert presents Hartt's debut performance of music from the Collection, and includes two movements from Souvenir de Porto Rico by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, orchestrated and arranged by Jack Elliott; “Open Me First,” by John Clayton; “The Star Spangled Banner,” orchestrated by John Clayton; the first movement of Symphonic Dances (Symphonische Tanze) by Claus Ogermann; “After Thoughts” by Ray Brown; and “1941” by John Williams. In addition to honoring Jack Elliott's legacy, working with the Collection as part of a multi-year project provides students of The Hartt School with an exciting opportunity to study, perform, and record a unique body of late twentieth century compositions of both historical and artistic importance.
Hartt alumna and friend of Mr. Elliott, Ms. Dionne Warwick, will speak as part of this first concert featuring the Jack Elliott Collection. Composer and bassist John Clayton will be featured in a solo work and introduce the instrumental version of his arrangement of the "Star Spangled Banner," his vocal arrangement of which first was performed by Whitney Houston. Hartt's current Director of Orchestral Activities, Maestro Edward Cumming, conducted Houston's original recording of this beloved arrangement, with the Florida Orchestra for Super Bowl XXV.
ABOUT JACK ELLIOTT:
Born Irwin Elliott Zucker, Elliott graduated from what is now The Hartt School in 1951, where he later was awarded an honorary doctorate, and he studied composition with Isadore Freed, Arnold Franchetti, Bohuslav Martinu, and Lukas Foss. He worked as a jazz pianist in New York and Paris in the 1950s. Later, having been sought by Hollywood for his skill as an arranger, he moved to California to launch a celebrated career in television. His run in television earned him the distinction of being one of Hollywood’s top composers and arrangers, and for having become the musical director of choice for big events, such as the Academy and the Emmy Awards.
In the 1970s, Elliott co-founded the Foundation for New American Music, which commissioned symphonic jazz works for performance by the celebrated classical and jazz performers of the New American Orchestra (later the American Jazz Philharmonic). He founded the Henry Mancini Institute in 1997, serving as music director until his death in 2001.
Mrs. Bobbi Elliott, who donated the collection in memory of her late husband, wishes for the works to be discovered and used by academic institutions and performance organizations so the broader community might enjoy this musical legacy.
Photo credit: COURESY OF UNIVERSITY OF HARTFORD ARCHIVES
ABOUT DIONNE WARWICK:
Dionne Warwick, who studied at and holds an Honorary Doctorate from The Hartt School, has, over an illustrious four-decade career, has established herself as an international musical legend. Her reputation as a hit maker has been firmly etched into public consciousness, thanks to nearly sixty charted hits since "Don't Make Me Over" began its climb up the charts in December 1962. As a performer, she has charmed and entertained audiences on every continent, amassing a worldwide audience. There are a few important "firsts" that make Dionne Warwick a true pioneer.
Dionne Warwick received her first Grammy Award in 1968 (for the classic "Do You Know The Way to San Jose?"), and in so doing became the first African-American solo female artist of her generation to win the prestigious award for Best Contemporary Female Vocal Performance. This award has only been awarded to one other female African-American legend, Ella Fitzgerald. Other African-American female recording artists certainly racked up their share of crossover pop and R&B hits during the 1960's. However, Dionne Warwick preceded the mainstream success of some of her musical peers by becoming the first such artist to rack up a dozen consecutive Top 100 hit singles from 1963 to 1966.
Dionne Warwick's performance at the Olympia Theater in Paris, during a 1963 concert starring the legendary Marlene Dietrich, rocketed her to international stardom. As she was establishing herself as a major force in American contemporary music, she steadily gained in popularity among European audiences. Hits like "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and "Walk On By" brought successively larger visibility and success around the world. In 1968 she became the first African-American female performer to appear before the Queen of England at a Royal Command Performance. Since then, Dionne has performed before numerous kings, queens, presidents, and heads of state.
Her recordings of songs like "A House Is Not A home," "Alfie," "(Theme From) The Valley Of The Dolls," and "The April Fools" made Dionne Warwick a pioneer as one of the first female artists to popularize classic movie themes. In 1968 Dionne made her own film debut in the movie "Slaves". This marked the first time, since Lena Horne, that a contemporary African-American female recording artist achieved such a goal.
In recent years, Dionne's pioneering efforts have focused on leading the music industry in the fight against AIDS. Her Grammy-winning, chart topping, single "That's What Friends Are For," lead the way by raising, literally, millions of dollars for AIDS research. Throughout the world, Dionne has devoted countless hours to a wide range of humanitarian causes, and continues her work as a socially conscious and concerned global citizen.
Dionne's status as a musical icon and humanitarian is legendary. With her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she continues to work tirelessly with various organizations dedicated to empowering and inspiring others.
For more information about Ms. Warwick’s illustrious career, visit www.dionnewarwick.info. Photo credit: DAVID VANCE PHOTOGRAPHY
ABOUT JOHN CLAYTON
The patience he exhibits with his students, provocative notes he chooses when he composes, empathy he shows when he produces, and scintillating sounds he coaxes from musicians when he conducts pale in comparison to his charisma when you just hear him swing! And swing he does. Grammy-winning bassist/composer/conductor, John Clayton's talents are consistently requested by the movers and shakers in the jazz industry, such as Quincy Jones and Tommy Lipuma. Clayton says, "When composing or arranging for the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, I am a disciple of Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson, Quincy Jones, and Gil Evans, to name just a few." Regarding his bowing techniques, he cites the radically different techniques of Slam Stewart, Major Holley, and Paul Chambers as influences. There is no doubt, however, that John has created a niche for himself wherein he stands alone.
As a testament to his immense talent and broad ranging appeal, John Clayton served as the Artistic Director of Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1999 through 2001. In addition, he is Artistic Director for the Centrum Jazz Workshop in Port Townsend, WA, and also was appointed Artistic Director for the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in 2006. John has written and arranged music for Diana Krall, DeeDee Bridgewater (including her Grammy award winning CD Dear Ella), Natalie Cole, Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, George Benson, Dr. John, Gladys Knight, Regina Carter, Queen Latifah, and many others. He has been commissioned by many ensembles, including the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the American Jazz Philharmonic, The Iceland Symphony, The Metropole Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Big Band, The Richmond Symphony, the WDR Orchestra, and the Amsterdam Philharmonic. On the other hand, John was awarded a platinum record for his stirring arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by Whitney Houston during Super Bowl XXV. He has won numerous awards, such as the Golden Feather Award given to him by the legendary Leonard Feather, and the Los Angeles Jazz Society's Composer/Arranger award.
John has served as the musical director of several jazz festivals including the Sarasota Jazz Festival and the Santa Fe Jazz Party. As Artistic Director of the Vail Jazz Workshop, he participates in choosing talented students from across the nation in an intensive week of learning jazz. Last year, he was also appointed as Artistic Director for the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. Clayton's serious study of the double bass began at age 16 when he studied with famed bassist Ray Brown. At age 19, John was the bassist for Henry Mancini's television series "The Mancini Generation." Later, he completed his studies at Indiana University, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Double Bass in 1975. Touring with Monty Alexander and the Count Basie Orchestra followed. He held the principal bass position in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for more than five years.
The Grammy-nominated Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra is co-led by John; his brother, saxophonist Jeff Clayton; and drummer Jeff Hamilton. Also, John and Jeff co-lead the Clayton Brothers Quintet; the Quintet has been nominated for two Grammy awards.
Photo credit: COURTESY OF JOHN CLAYTON
ABOUT MICHAEL BARRETT
Known as a champion of new music and innovative programming, Michael Barrett has created numerous concerts and events that have attracted enthusiastic audiences. In addition to serving as the Music Director of the Moab Music Festival, which he co-founded in 1992, Mr. Barrett serves as the Chief Executive and General Director of the Carmoor Music Festival in Westchester County, New York.
From 1994 to 1997, he was the Director of the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y in New York, where, among other things, he created the widely-acclaimed Today's Composers series. In 1988, he co-founded with Steven Blier the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), which presents a diversity of thematic song recitals in New York City and beyond. Mr. Barrett also serves as the Artistic Advisor for the Estate of Leonard Bernstein. A protégé of Bernstein, Barrett began his long association with the renowned conductor and composer as a student in 1982. From 1985 to 1990, he served as an assistant conductor to the Maestro.
Mr. Barrett has been a guest conductor with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, New York Philharmonic, London Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, and the Orchestre National de France, among others. He also has served variously as conductor, producer, and music director of numerous special projects, among them: The Bernstein Beat, a young people's symphonic concert about rhythm, at Carnegie Hall; and Hopper's Wife by Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie at the Long Beach Opera. Dedicated to music education, Mr. Barrett oversees the innovative education programs of NYFOS and the Moab Music Festival.
Mr. Barrett received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and did post-graduate work at The Hartt School. When not in Moab, he lives in Riverdale, NY, with his wife Leslie Tomkins, and daughter Emma.