Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Downes plays Ellington, new work in very personal concert

By
March 31, 2011 |

Pianist Lara Downes enjoys a personal connection to Duke Ellington's music. Courtesy photo

Details

What: Pianist Lara Downes performing “Long Time Coming”; she and composer David Sanford will give pre-concert talks one hour before each performance

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center

Tickets: $35 general, $17.50 for students; http://www.mondaviarts.org, (530) 754-2787

Pianist Lara Downes of Davis will be featured in the premiere of a new multimedia work inspired by Duke Ellington titled “Long Time Coming” at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10, in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center.

“Long Time Coming,” composed by David Sanford, also will feature Kylie Batlin speaking a text by former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove, along with musicians Sam Bass (cello), Sam Crowe (alto sax) and Bill Vonderhaar (bass). The piece has three movements, titled “heaven just a whisper,” “promise” and “everything still to come.”

Sanford is a past winner of the Rome Prize, a major award for composers. His compositions have been performed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and locally by the Empyrean Ensemble at UC Davis.

The new piece was inspired in part by another piece on the program: Ellington’s hopeful and forward-looking piano concerto from 1943, “New World A Coming’,” which will be performed in an arrangement by Sam Crowe.

Downes said “Ellington’s piece was written during World War II, and it was an anthem of hope for the end of colonialism and fascism, and the end of racism.”

Ellington drew his inspiration in part from a book and a radio show by Roi Ottley, whose 1943 book (also titled “New World A Comin’ ”) won the Peabody Award, among other honors. Ottley became the first African-American to serve as a war correspondent with a major American daily newspaper.

“There was a big movement among the black community, a vision of what the end of World War II was going to mean for people of color in this country, and everywhere,” Downes said.  “Ottley’s radio show was on the air in Harlem during the 1940s, and Ellington wrote the theme music for that show.”

Backing Downes on the Ellington concerto will be the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, a group of young musicians that tours nationally, and is based at the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. The group’s drummer is a familiar face: Colin McDaniel is a 2010 graduate of Davis High School. McDaniel also won the 2010 Downbeat award for outstanding extended composition.

“I love that the Brubeck Quintet is playing with me. That’s the future, right there,” Downes said.

She said Sanford’s new piece draws on Ellington and Ottley’s heritage in several ways: “David’s piece uses some archival recordings from Ottley’s radio show. David also plays thematically with some ideas from Ellington’s piece. David’s style is very eclectic, drawing on symphonic music, rhythm and blues, funk and hip-hop. It’s very contemporary but also accessible.”

Downes expects the historical Ellington concerto and the new Sanford piece will generate some sparks as they are presented on the same program.

“It’s a show about yesterday, today and tomorrow, and a lot of it concerns the future,” Downes said.

She will take Sanford’s new piece to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for a performance in about a year.

The concert also has a very personal meaning for Downes.

“My dad was raised in Harlem, and my parents met through the civil rights movement. My mom was an attorney, my dad was a writer and a scientist. The first pieces of music that I remember hearing were Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations,’ in the first Glenn Gould recording, and Ellington’s ‘Sacred Concerts.’

“During my childhood, I got a constant input of classical music. I started playing the piano when I was 4. My parents dragged me and my siblings to every concert and opera that they could. And my dad listened to Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Their music was always in my ears.”

Downes’ father, alas, died when she was 9.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8055.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

     
    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Forum

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    .

    Sports

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics