Tonight’s performance has been made possible by the generosity of Richard S. O’Connor.
The year was 1922. Nightclubs all over Harlem pulsed with the exotic rhythms and harmonies of jazz. This was not the dancehall music of midtown hotels and clubs. This was something new. Night after night, a young French composer visiting America for the first time, Darius Milhaud, headed up to Harlem, captivated by this new form of music. It was as if a new world had opened up to him.
The result of Milhaud's Harlem nights became the aptly named ballet, La Création du Monde (the creation of the world). The work, scored for various wind percussion and string instruments, conveys a primal African creation myth. While it received initially mixed reviews, the eventual influence of jazz on classical music was inevitable. Before a decade had passed, La Création du Monde was widely recognized as an important work.
Tonight, we encounter the piece in a brilliant string octet arrangement by jazz violinist and composer Danny Seidenberg of Turtle Island Quartet fame. We’ll take you back nearly a century to Harlem in the 20’s and you won’t even have to take the A Train.
Doors open at 5:00pm