L’Histoire du Soldat @ 100
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L’Histoire du Soldat @ 100
Regina Carter, Violin
Aneesa Strings, Double Bass
Natalie Parker, Clarinet
Patrick Johnson-Whitty, Bassoon
Sean Jones, Trumpet
Robin Eubanks, Trombone
Justin Sun, Percussion
Nicholas Phan, Narrator
Valerie Sainte-Agathe, Conductor
About This Performance
The concert brings SF Performances Artist-in-Residence, trumpeter Sean Jones, violinist Regina Carter, narrator Nicholas Phan, and friends for a jazz-inflected performance of L’Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale), plus an all-star set of jazz favorites.
Stravinsky’s hybrid theatrical work created on the eve of Europe’s Jazz Age, was first performed on this same date in 1918. Based on a Russian folktale about the choice between greed and happiness, L’Histoire features seven instruments and a narrator that tell the story of an AWOL soldier’s encounter with the devil.
The Gala includes a pre-concert cocktail reception (6pm), the concert (7pm), and post-concert dinner (8pm). Proceeds benefit SF Performances’ education programs.Tickets start at $500.
For the remarkable composer/trumpeter/educator/activist Sean Jones, the pursuit of Jazz is a most serious endeavor. Not just in terms of mastering the art form, but in its fullest meaning and purpose socially, philosophically and spiritually. Deeply influenced by his immersion in Gospel music in the church as a youth, Sean had an epiphany at the age of 19 while he was a student at Youngstown State University. That awakening occurred—as it has for so many serious-minded individuals both inside and outside of music—with his first hearing of the magnificent John Coltrane’s masterpiece A Love Supreme.
“I was driving in my car at the time and I had to pull off the road. All at once, everything just came together for me. My past, my present, my future. I knew the course I needed to pursue.”
Always a devout and focused young man, Sean sang and performed as a child in the choir at St. James Church of God in Christ in his hometown of Warren, Ohio. Originally a drummer, he discovered Jazz and the trumpet at ten years old upon hearing Miles Davis—specifically Kind of Blue and Amandla.
“Miles is probably the single most powerful influence on me as an artist. His overall vision, the way he changed with the times, the purity of his sound.”
Committing himself seriously to the instrument, the gifted young musician was also fortunate to have studied privately with the eminent teacher and great trumpeter Esotto Pellegrini. Perfecting technique through his studies, Sean was also developing his ears in the longtime Jazz tradition of absorbing the artistry of the masters through listening.
“Woody (Shaw) and Freddie (Hubbard) were first and second for me. And then there was Clifford (Brown), who I had to go back and discover through those two men.”
He also cites Wynton Marsalis, whose personal work ethic and ability to break barriers had a deep effect on the emerging artist.
“When I saw Wynton’s picture on a classical album, I knew there were no limitations on me; everything could be within my grasp.”
Five years later, after receiving his Master’s Degree from Rutgers University (where he studied under the renowned Professor William Fielder, who also taught Marsalis) Sean had a 6-month stint with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Wynton offered Sean a permanent position as lead trumpeter and Jones remained there until 2010, participating in two recordings.
During those years, Sean started touring and performing regularly with his own ensembles and began his longtime relationship with Mack Avenue Records, for whom he has just released his seventh recording: im.pro.vise = never before seen. A highly respected and in-demand musician even while at Rutgers, Sean was prominently featured with a number of artists, ranging from the esteemed to the legendary. These included recordings and/or performances with Charles Fambrough, the Fort Apache Band, Joe Lovano, Chico O’Farrill, Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Wilson and Marcus Miller.
The relationship with Miller led to another highly impacting experience when Sean was selected by Miller, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter for their Tribute to Miles tour in 2011. As A deeply respectful man, Sean was humbled by their decision to place him in such an exalted position.
“I have so much reverence for those men, so I asked them how I could best contribute to this music. Without hesitation and in one voice they said: ‘Lead…that’s what we hired you to do.’ That brought it all together for me.”
Having already left his position with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Sean decided that it was time to make his own unique contribution to the spectacular legacy of Jazz, and the trust and support of those masters cemented his resolve. Following that tour, Sean has been unwaveringly focused upon what he can do to further the living organism of Jazz expression.
Education is also a major element in Sean’s ongoing activities. Shortly after joining the LJCO he began teaching at Duquesne University in his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, where he is currently Associate Professor of Jazz. In 2012 he also became Professor of Trumpet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In addition, master classes and clinics are a regular part of his activities, providing more than a dozen annually all around the world.
Despite this intense level of activity, Sean also serves as Artistic Director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras, overseeing their annual four concert and six concert series, respectively. Equally committed as an activist and advocate, Sean is focused upon trying to organize the various Jazz orchestras all over the country to offer this glorious art form in as rich, substantive and compelling a manner as possible.
His current performance focus is upon the quartet on his latest CD, who have been working together since 2007—with pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire.
“I feel that this music at its most profound demands that combination of the essential forces of spiritual energy, raw essence and group synergy. That’s our goal.” But Sean is also looking toward projects with new and larger ensembles, including orchestras. In addition, he’s planning on more forays into the world of Western classical music, while working on solidifying his pedagogy and increasing his lecturing and writing activities.
Clearly a powerfully committed, heavily focused and deeply spiritual man, Sean taps the energies of his youthful vigor (he turns 36 on May 29) with a serious study of philosophy—especially that of 13th century theologian and mystic Meister Eckhardt; and Don Miguel Ruiz, whose vision is drawn from the ancient wisdom of the Toltec native people of Southern Mexico—to fuel the pursuit of his expansive and generous vision.
This remarkable gentleman sums up his perspective for his music—and his purposes—in straightforward and honest fashion.
“I think the progression of the art form comes with people being allowed to be themselves in their rawest form, with no compromise. If we can’t be ourselves fully, then what we’re putting out is a lie—or a half-version of ourselves, which I think ultimately people can feel. With me, I’m willing to take that risk. Risk getting a bad review. Risk not being at the forefront. Because I know in the end, my body of work is going to show a progression of who Sean Jones is in its most honest form. What I’m hearing, what I believe and what I have to say.”
Violinist Regina Carter combines dazzling technical proficiency and profound compositional and improvisational gifts with a fresh, aggressive approach to her instrument and a multicultural perspective—and she challenges our preconceptions regarding the instrument. “People are only used to hearing violin in European classical music or country music,” says the Detroit-born violinist, “and so we get stuck in this idea that this is what a violin is supposed to do. And it's such a precious instrument and such a delicate instrument…That’s what people think: it’s such a small, delicate little thing. Even sometimes I play with classical players in a quartet and part of the piece might call to use the back of the bow, the wood, to hit on the string to get a percussive effect or to get a different sound, and they’ll say, ‘I’m not going to bang on my instrument like that. This violin cost way too much money.’ They don’t think of it as another way of playing the instrument. They don’t really want to go beyond what we think of; so even the musicians themselves sometimes are stuck into those old ways of thinking.”
In Carter’s hands, the violin reveals both its melodic side and its potential for percussive expression. Perhaps more significantly, Regina Carter demonstrates the violinist’s eagerness to explore musical combinations and contexts both familiar and unexpected.
The ease with which Carter is able to switch musical idioms derives from a lifetime spent immersed in music. She began playing the piano at the age of two, then switched to violin at four. Carter considers the Suzuki method of instruction—which emphasizes learning by doing, to play by ear rather than by sight—to be a significant factor in her subsequent ability to improvise since, as she says, “it freed us up from the paper—from reading a lot.”
At first, she listened to classical music. Then, as she got older she discovered R&B. “There was just a lot of different music going on there [in Detroit],” she observes, “because we had Motown happening and Parliament and Funkadelic, and the Symphony, so there was some of everything. When I went to school I took a class in East Indian music and the history of India, and then African music.” Her original goal was to become a soloist with a major orchestra, and in her youth she studied and performed with the Detroit Civic Symphony. Jazz wasn’t a big part of her life until she heard Jean Luc Ponty as a high school student. “I just immediately fell in love with it and started studying jazz a little bit in high school,” she recalls. As a college student at the New England Conservatory, she studied both classical and jazz before deciding to pursue jazz full time. After two years at the Conservatory, Carter transferred to Oakland University in Michigan, and gigged constantly around Detroit with many of the local musicians, including trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. In 1987, she joined the all-female jazz quintet Straight Ahead and recorded two albums with them before deciding to step out on her own. Now based in New York, she has worked with the likes of Oliver Lake, Max Roach, and the Uptown String Quartet, and she also records with the String Trio of New York.
Described by the Boston Globe as “one of the world’s most remarkable singers,” American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction. An artist with an incredibly diverse repertoire that ranges from Claudio Monteverdi to Nico Muhly and beyond, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. Phan is also an avid recitalist and a passionate advocate for art song and vocal chamber music; in 2010, Phan co-founded Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, an organization devoted to promoting this underserved repertoire.
Phan once again launches his new season in Chicago, curating CAIC’s seventh annual Collaborative Arts Festival. Other highlights of his 2018–19 season are two role debuts: Eumolpus in Stravinsky’s Perséphone, with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony; and the title role in Handel’s Jephtha, with Boston Baroque and Martin Pearlman. The title role in Bernstein’s Candide, with Marin Alsop and the Israel Philharmonic, will mark his debut in Israel. In addition to three programs with the San Francisco Symphony, he will return to major orchestras across the country including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. A celebrated recording artist, Phan will be heard on two forthcoming albums this season: Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony and Handel’s Joseph and His Brethren with Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque.
Phan's most recent solo album, Illuminations, was released on Avie Records in April 2018. His previous solo album, Gods and Monsters, was nominated for the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo Album. His other previous solo albums, A Painted Tale, Still Fall the Rain and Winter Words, made many “best of” lists, including those of the New York Times, New Yorker, Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe. Phan’s growing discography also includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky's Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony, the opera L’Olimpiade with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Scarlatti’s La gloria di primavera with Philharmonia Baroque, an album of Bach’s secular cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, Bach’s St. John Passion (in which he sings both the Evangelist and the tenor arias) with Apollo’s Fire, and the world premiere recordings of two orchestral song cycles: The Old Burying Ground by Evan Chambers and Elliott Carter’s A Sunbeam's Architecture.
A native of South Carolina, Natalie Parker is currently the Principal Clarinet of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. She joined the Ballet Orchestra in January 2012 and received her M.M. degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music the following May.
Natalie has recently attended such music festivals as Orchestra Institute Napa Valley, Music in the Mountains, Brevard Music Center, the Madeline Island Chamber Music Camp, and the Texas Music Festival. While in school, she actively participated in the Houston Da Camera Young Artist’s Program and JUMP!, the community music outreach program at Rice University. In 2010, she won second prize in the International Clarinet Association’s Young Artist Competition and performed in recital at their annual ClarinetFest.
Since arriving in San Francisco, Natalie has played frequently with the San Francisco Symphony as well as with several regional orchestras and enjoys performing chamber music throughout the Bay Area.