Elmhurst College celebrates World Music Festival Saturday

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/26/2018 7:24 AM
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  • Tenor saxophonist Mark Colby, an Elmhurst College faculty member, will perform Saturday at the school's World Music Festival.

    Tenor saxophonist Mark Colby, an Elmhurst College faculty member, will perform Saturday at the school's World Music Festival. Courtesy of Mark Colby

A chance encounter coupled with musicians' penchant for experimentation led to the first World Music Festival at Elmhurst College.

"I was approached in 2010 by a visitor to campus by the name of Srini Krishnan," said Joanne May, assistant professor of music education and director of the Elmhurst College Philharmonic Orchestra.

Enthusiastic about combining orchestral music with traditional music from a variety of the world's cultures, Krishnan, a guest lecturer from Chennai, India, showed May video examples of such collaborations.

"He liked the idea of the orchestra being on stage with musicians of the various cultures," May said. "I became very interested in doing a project that included world music of some sort."

And so the project was launched in 2011 under the name "Global Rhythms."

"That was very much Indian music," May said.

Each year since then, the festival culminates with a main concert. The performances have toured the musical landscape of the world, landing this year in America.

"It's always my choice. I started the festival and had such a blast trying to figure out what's the next culture we should do for the festival," she said.

The concert will put an orchestral spin on two essentially American genres, blues and jazz, when an amalgam of artists come together at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel on the college campus.

The concert is titled "Celebrate Blues and Jazz -- the Music of America."

The blues portion of the concert will feature Corky Siegel, a well-known Chicago artist, who long has been combining genres.

"He works with people in the classical symphonic world and with blues and jazz artists. We're celebrating the 50th anniversary of his collaboration with Seiji Ozawa," said May, referring to the Japanese conductor.

Corky Siegel, long known for combining musical genres, will perform as part of Elmhurst College's "Celebrate Blues and Jazz" concert.
Corky Siegel, long known for combining musical genres, will perform as part of Elmhurst College's "Celebrate Blues and Jazz" concert. - Courtesy of Corky Siegel

"Our performance will be one of (Siegel's) compositions, 'Symphonic Blues No. 6,' in three movements. His writing is just superb."

She said Siegel plays the harmonica with the orchestra, creating an intriguing blend of sounds.

Tenor saxophonist Mark Colby, an Elmhurst College faculty member, will be featured in the second part of the concert.

"The jazz piece we're doing with Mark is called 'Focus.' The piece was written by Eddie Sauter. He composed for (the late) Stan Getz," May said. "Mark was a good friend of Stan Getz."

May said the orchestra and Colby will perform a piece from the "Focus" album titled "I'm Late" that she said viscerally conveys the feeling of rushing.

"It's just the most wonderful composition," she said.

Also on the playlist is a piece called "Her."

"It's basically a story about Stan Getz' mother," May said.

The concert is among thousands of concerts across the world that participate in Daniel Perl Music Days in October in honor of the journalist and violinist who was murdered by terrorists in 2002.

May said there are about 50 musicians in the Elmhurst Philharmonic Orchestra. For the performances with Siegel, all orchestra members will join in. For the pieces with Colby, the strings and rhythm sections will participate, but not the woodwinds and brass.

May, a violinist, will conduct.

She said she looks forward to the annual festival.

"I feel a responsibility as a professor to make sure students know Beethoven's music and Mozart's music," she said. "This one concert of the year is an opportunity to move away from those standards."

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