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Stanford Report, November 17, 1999

On tap at Dinkelspiel: Big Band jazz and Glass premiere

Big Band jazz and a symphony premiere will be featured in two separate campus concerts tonight and Friday, Nov. 19, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium. Both programs begin at 8 p.m.

Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon joins the Stanford Jazz Orchestra tonight for a program of classics from the Big Band era. Conductor Fred Berry will feature Gordon's arrangements of tunes by Gershwin and Ellington, among others.

Gordon is a member of Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and toured with his Septet from 1989 until it disbanded in 1995. He performs throughout the world and has played with jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderly, Lionel Hampton and Shirley Horn. New York Times jazz critic Peter Watrous calls Gordon's improvisations "effusive . . . ring[ing] with all the growls and vocalizations that jazz invented in the first half of the century."

On Friday evening, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra will present the U.S. premiere of composer Philip Glass' 1997 work, Songs of Milarepa, featuring baritone Kenneth Goodson, associate professor of mechanical engineering. Director J. Karla Lemon also will conduct the symphony in Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88, and Shostakovich's Violin Concerto, Op. 99, featuring student soloist Charlene Chen.

Songs of Milarepa had its international premiere at the Sagra Musicale Umbra Festival in Italy in 1997, and subsequently was performed at the Scotia Festival in May 1999. Milarepa, an 11th-century Tibetan monk, used spontaneous songs to teach his students an estimated 100,000 spiritual lessons.

"Of course, we have no way of knowing what the original songs may have sounded like," Glass says. "However, many poems attributed to Milarepa are available, and it is from these that my vocal text was fashioned."

Glass arranged the texts in the form of a common Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the "Three Principles of the Path," which focus on one's determination to be free and compassionate and attain ultimate wisdom.

Dvorák's Eighth Symphony premiered in Prague in 1890, although it originally was written to be performed in England when he was collaborating with the Philharmonic Society of London. Dvorák often drew on Bohemian folklore for artistic inspiration and this selection uses traditional folk melodies with rhythmic verve and colorful orchestration.

The Shostakovich Violin Concerto was first performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic in 1955. David Oistrackh, the original violinist at that performance, compared the work to "a Shakespearean role, demanding from the artist the greatest emotional and intellectual dedicatedness."

The composition is actually Op. 77, but due to a misprint in Muzgiz in the 1957 edition, it has come to be known as Op. 99. Student soloist Charlene Chen, a student of St. Lawrence String Quartet violinist Barry Shiffman, will perform the challenging work.

Tickets for the Stanford Jazz Orchestra are $10 general admission and $4 students, and for the Stanford Symphony Orchestra $8 general admission and $4 students. Tickets for both concerts are available from the Stanford Ticket Office, 725-2787, or at the door. SR