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Arts and Theater 1
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Black Tie International:
Duke Ellington Week
 


 

Duke Ellington

 

 

THE DUKE ELLINGTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS

PLANS MULTIPLE EVENTS TO CELEBRATE ‘DUKE ELLINGTON WEEK’

AND ELLINGTON’S 112TH BIRTHDAY (APRIL 29)

 

New York, NY  – The Duke Ellington Center For The Arts has scheduled a number of events and activities during New York’s “Duke Ellington Week” (April 24-30) to celebrate the 112th birthday of the internationally acclaimed musician, composer, orchestra leader and jazz innovator, it was announced here today by  Mercedes Ellington, the renowned dancer/choreographer who is founder and President of the Duke Ellington Center For The Arts in New York City.

“This is one of the most exciting weeks of the year for me, all jazz lovers and for Duke Ellington aficionados,” Mercedes says. “With more than 3,000 compositions, Ellington was the 20th century’s most prolific composer in both volume and variety. His fame spread worldwide and he built a fantastic career as a musician, composer, songwriter, orchestra leader and innovator of American Music that began in the 1920’s and continued non-stop until his death in 1974. His music is as popular today as it was during his lifetime. And it is the mission of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts to support the inspiration of all people to become Ambassadors for Peace and Harmony through the magic of the Arts—one note at a time.”

Here are the events scheduled for Duke Ellington Week:—

Easter Sunday, April 24, 7:00 PM    (Inaugural Ceremony for the Duke Ellington “Beyond Category” Award)

A Black Tie Cocktail Reception and Dance will highlight the inaugural ceremony for the 1st Annual Duke Ellington “Beyond Category” Award.  Reaffirming its commitment to support individual excellence, The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts has established a charitable endowment to fund scholarships for arts education. The endowment will support scholarships through this Special Award, which will be presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated impact beyond category. Award recipients will determine which school receives the scholarship. The recipient of the Inaugural Award is Donald Saddler, the renowned choreographer, dancer and theatre director. Structured as a fund-raiser for the endowment, the evening’s program will feature The Dance Times Square Jitterbuggers choreographed by Melanie LaPatin.                                              

Location: Dance Times Square Studio (156 West 44th Street): Tickets: $125

Monday, April 25, at 7:30 PM   30 Year Anniversary Sophisticated Ladies Original Broadway Cast Reunion

Birdland, 315 West 44th Street

The 30th Anniversary Reunion Performance of the Original 1981 Broadway production of the Ellington-themed musical Sophisticated Ladies will be presented at Birdland, 315 West 44th Street. The musical ran 767 performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater (3/1/1981 – 1/2/1983) and featured Duke Ellington’s music with his son Mercer Ellington heading the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Many of the original cast members, including Mercedes Ellington, will perform at this reunion. Other original cast members performing include: Ty Stephens, Adrian Bailey, P.J. Benjamin, Hinton Battle, Val Pettiford, Terri Klausner, Wynonna Smith, Ken Hanson, Priscilla Baskerville, Michael Lichtefeld, Faruma (“Woody”) Williams, Paula-Lynn Wagner and Bruce HeathFrank Owens will head the on-stage orchestra.

 

Cover Charge:   $40         Reservations required.     
Call Birdland at 212/581-3080

 

Thursday, April 28, at 9 PM    (Ellington Birthday Eve Countdown Concert)                                                  Swing 46 Jazz & Supper Club, 349 West 46th Street

 

Hosted by Swing 46—one of New York’s finest jazz clubs, complete with dance floor—The Blue Millennium Orchestra invites musicians from far and wide to join them in heralding Duke Ellington’s 112th Birthday in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district. The Orchestra features original Ellington alumni Patience Higgins and
James Zollar
on reeds and trumpet. Christopher Cherney, Director of Music Education at The Duke Ellington Center, directs the ensemble from piano. The performance begins at 9 PM and culminates with a New-Year’s-Eve-Style countdown to the Maestro’s birthday at midnight when all attending musicians will be asked to get out their instruments so that everyone can play Take The A Train together. Mr. Cherney and The Blue Millennium Orchestra have been involved with the development and presentation of several of Ellington’s extended compositions—including A Drum is a Woman and Such Sweet Thunder.

 

Cover Charge:  $20   (Instrumentalists arriving after 10 PM for the Midnight Jam will be charged $10)

 

Friday, April 29, at 1:00 PM         (Duke Ellington Day Celebration Concert)                                             The Duke Ellington Statue, Fifth Avenue & 110th Street                                                                                                                                                 

Focusing on the importance of music and the arts programs in public schools, the highlight of Duke Ellington Week is a FREE musical Tribute Concert in front of the Duke Ellington Memorial Statue at the northeast corner of Central Park (110th Street & Fifth Avenue) --  the Gateway to Harlem. Several school jazz bands, including The Middle School Jazz Academy of Jazz at Lincoln Center and the PS 345 Concert Band in Brooklyn, as well as Christopher Cherney’s Blue Millennium Orchestra, will perform.   Guest artists, including Darby Dizard, and the Dance Times Square Jitterbuggers will round out a musical program featuring Duke Ellington Favorites.  During a rousing Finale, all 60 participating musicians will join together to perform the Duke Ellington standard, Satin Doll

FREE! No admission charge.

Saturday, April 30, at 5 PM              (Duke Ellington at Woodlawn)

Woodlawn Cemetery—The Bronx

Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974—and like many of New York’s Jazz Greats—
was laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx. To commemorate his birthday, Woodlawn and The Duke Ellington Center will present a special concert of all-Ellington music. The concert will take place in The Woolworth Chapel at Woodlawn, and feature live music, song and dance.  The concert will be hosted by Mercedes Ellington, who will also present excerpts from Duke Ellington’s repertoire of literary compositions.                                                             

Admission:  $20   Reservations required. Please contact Woodlawn at
718/920-1470.

 Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington

(April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974)

·   With over 3,000 compositions, he was the 20th century’s most prolific composer in both volume and variety.

·   He started playing piano age 7, formed his first band when he was 25; kept it going for more than 50 years.

·   1920s: He began calling his compositions American Music when it was popular to view only classical music as “cultural.” Duke was determined to change that and make American Music something to be proud of worldwide. He succeeded.

·   1930s and 1940s: He took his band all over the globe, bringing American Big Band Music, Jazz, American-style Sacred Music and Blues to audiences large and small on every continent.

·   1950s and 1960s: The US State Department launched its Jazz Ambassador program, and Duke became a key component of that highly successful exercise in global cultural diplomacy. He received the Presidential Gold Medal in 1966 from Lyndon Johnson, and the Medal of Freedom in 1969 from Richard Nixon.

·   1970s:  The Jazz Ambassador initiative ended in 1972 after Duke, though battling terminal cancer, made his last Goodwill Tour through Africa. He died two years later.

·   Honored posthumously in 1999 with a Pulitzer Prize, Duke Ellington is a source of immense pride for Americans of all races. He felt that racial integration was just a stepping stone to a much more important universal goal: “Human harmony beyond category.”

 

The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts

Founded in 2004 by Mercedes Ellington, director/ choreographer/performer and producer who is Duke Ellington’s granddaughter. The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that was created with a mission to support the inspiration of all people to become Ambassadors for Peace and Harmony through the magic of the Arts—one note at a time.

Among its goals, The Duke Ellington Center plans on developing Duke Ellington’s staggering number of musical compositions into multi-disciplinary theatrical presentations, to be performed in many different types of venues in many countries. By revisiting his many diverse compositions, The Center will be following in the example of Ellington himself by exploring new directions that will breathe new life and excitement into those exemplary works.                                                               

 

###########

 

 

Contacts for The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts

 

Public Relations: Les Schecter         (LS Communications)          917/854-3286         lester.schecter@gmail.com                   

Marketing:             Andrew Graham   (The Salak Group)             646-385-0189         andrewgraham.nyc@gmail.com

 


 
 
Joyce Brooks

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