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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Classical music and jazz meet at Gobin Summer Music Festival

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's a jazz and classical "mashup" as the Greencastle Summer Music festival continues Wednesday, June 22 with clarinetist Gareth Guest and pianist Katya Kramer. Classical music by jazz composers, and jazz-influenced works by classical composers, will make for a lively and interesting musical evening at 7:30 p.m. in the free concert (donations accepted) at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church.

Gareth Guest has had a long career as a classical and jazz clarinetist, as well as holding a "day job" as a nuclear physicist. Eric Edberg, the festival's organizer, has asked this summer's performers to program music they love and, if the want, to combine musical genres.

"I thought it would be very interesting to show the evolution of jazz in classical music," says Guest.

The program will start with an arrangement of George Gershwin's Three Preludes, originally for solo piano. "Gershwin was initially dismissed by the classical music establishment," explains Edberg, "which was very suspicious of anything with roots in jazz and popular music. Now we see that as a colossal, snobbish mistake."

The program continues with the British jazz/classical composer Alec Templeton's Pocket Size Sonata, composed in the 1940s, and Aaron Copland's Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra (with piano substituting for the strings this week).

"What's interesting about the Copland is that you can hear traces of his works such as Appalachian Spring, and in other sections it sounds like pure Benny Goodman, for whom the piece was composed. And it includes a big slide much like the beginning of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue."

The concert will conclude with Jimmy Rowles' The Peacocks.

"I'm very excited about this program," says Edberg. "While on sabbatical in New York this spring, I heard a number of concerts by young classical composers influenced by jazz, rock, and other genres. Gareth -- who just turned 78 himself -- is showing us how this has been going on for decades."

Guest has played clarinet and saxophone since childhood, putting himself through college playing in jazz bands and later serving as principal clarinet of the Oak Ridge Symphony while working for the federal government there. Now retired, he authored a textbook, Electron Cyclotron Heating of Plasma, published by John Wiley, Inc. last year.

The festival continues its mixed-genres theme next week with a June 29 concert by young New York pianist John Kamfanos performing classical music, improvisations, and Michael Jackson.

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