BROWNWOOD – November 15, 2013 – Howard Payne University’s Jazz Orchestra will present music from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite – with a unique twist – in two performances Saturday, November 23, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 24, at 2:30 p.m. The performances will be in Mims Auditorium and are free to the public.
“These performances will really be extraordinary in that we will present Duke Ellington’s 1960 version of the Tchaikovsky classic,” said Stephen Goacher, professor of music and director of the orchestra.
Also included in the program is Mozart’s Symphony #40 as arranged by Grammy-winning Hollywood composer Gordon Goodwin. HPU’s University Singers under the direction of Dr. Gregory Church, associate professor of music, will join the Jazz Orchestra, singing a collection of popular Christmas songs.
In addition to the music, the program will feature an extensive display of nutcrackers from the collection of Diane Owens, director of HPU’s Pre-College Music Program, adjunct instructor of music and retired professor of music.
In 1892, Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky composed the ballet The Nutcracker, based on a play by Alexander Dumas. Tchaikovsky immediately arranged “Opus 71a,” eight of the original compositions from the ballet, into an orchestral collection of “hits.”
“These melodies are considered among the most beautiful and memorable of the entire 19th century,” said Goacher. “The New York City Ballet gave its first annual performance of The Nutcracker in 1954. Beginning in the 1960s, the tradition of performing the ballet at Christmas spread to the rest of the United States. “
In 1960, Duke Ellington, already well known for composing extended works in the jazz idiom, began adapting and arranging Tchaikovsky’s popular Nutcracker Suite for the Ellington Orchestra. This was his first adaptation of extended music from other composers.
“We have acquired Ellington’s original arrangement and look forward to presenting it on the HPU campus,” Goacher said. “We hope this special rendition of the beloved Nutcracker Suite is a gift to the Brownwood community to begin the holiday season.”
Photo cutline: HPU’s Jazz Orchestra will present two performances of music from the Nutcracker Suite, Saturday, November 23, and Sunday, November 24.