National Symphony Orchestra: NEW MOVES: symphony + dance: Thomas Wilkins, conductor; New Ballet Ensemble / From Gershwin to Ellington

Saturday, May 10, 2014 - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Enjoy music by Duke Ellington with a dance performance by Memphis jookin artists. Also: Barber's Souvenirs, music from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and a concerto featuring Jauvon Gilliam, NSO Principal Timpani.


$10.00 - $85.00

Run Time:

Approx. 2 hours

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The second program in the NSO's NEW MOVES: symphony + dance festival includes music by Duke Ellington with a dance performance by Memphis jookin artists from New Ballet Ensemble, Katie Smythe, Artistic Director. Also on the program: Barber's Souvenirs, music from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and a concerto featuring Jauvon Gilliam, NSO principal timpani.

Performance Timing: Part One - 56 min.; Intermission - 15 min.; Part Two - 32 min.


Hailing from Memphis Tennessee, where jookin is the indigenous urban dance, artists from New Ballet Ensemble bring their highly improvisational choreography to Duke Ellington's jazzy 1950 Harlem suite. In jookin, dancers incorporate waving, popping, chopping, bucking, and rippling arms with elaborate footwork to hip-hop currents and isolations that are a modern counterpart to a ballerina's swan-arm undulations. 
George Gershwin's grand 1935 American folk opera--which revolves around African American life in Catfish Row, a fictitious waterfront town in South Carolina--is a vibrant showcase for the composer's musical genius. The NSO will perform an orchestral suite of excerpts: "Summertime," "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," and more.
Originally written in 1951 for four hands at a piano, Samuel Barber's Souvenirs was later transcribed for orchestra and used for a ballet by Todd Bolender. Through six lighthearted dances, Barber reminisces on a particular New York setting--from a splashy waltz to a bustling two-step to a passionate tango. A composer in virtually every classical genre, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner was the "poster boy" for American neo-Romanticism. 

"This work requires the soloist to perform on eight drums simultaneously, as opposed to the standard symphonic setup of four drums. It's a very challenging work, as my feet are moving to change the pitches of the drums, just as much as my hands. The piece was premiered--24 years ago to the day that I'll be playing it!--by my teacher Paul Yancich, timpanist of The Cleveland Orchestra. So there's a bit of pedigree and history that gives this piece special meaning for me."

AfterWords: Tue., May 13 performance followed by a free discussion with the artists and NSO Director of Artistic Planning Nigel Boon.



Across two weeks in May, the NSO presents a feast for the senses with this unique festival that combines soaring music and exhilarating dance performed on an extended Concert Hall stage. In three programs led by renowned conductor Thomas Wilkins, experience iconic music created by seminal American voices as well as new works by some of today's most exciting American composers--including two NSO co-commissions. Each program also features a world premiere dance commission from a leading American choreographer. Don't miss this thrilling series of performances that takes your Concert Hall experience to a whole new level!

Get tickets for the festival's other programs:
- From Schuman to Bernstein (May 7 & 8)
- From Adams to Copland (May 16 & 17)


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All events and artists subject to change without prior notice.

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