Skip to content

Category: Uncategorized

Edward Kennedy Ellington, April 29, 1899-May 24, 1974

Duke Ellington Orchestra 1928

This is the most valuable object I own, a photo of the Duke Ellington Orchestra given by Ellington to my father after one of the three engagements my dad presented in Erie, PA between 1931 and 1933. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that my dad knew Ellington, and that I have touched this object that was once touched by the hand of genius.
Today, on the 122nd anniversary of his birth and every day, Ellington is forever.


Leave a Comment

Previewing the Noah Haidu Trio at Bop Stop, Sept, 28

The tribute record has a long history in the music business.  Like a Hollywood franchise film or a celebrity-branded product, tribute records work best when they yoke an unfamiliar to the powerful engine of what is known, loved and pre-sold.

By that definition, maybe pianist Noah Haidu’s new Sunnyside Records CD, “Doctone,” which he will premiere at Cleveland’s Bop Stop on September 28, is not a tribute record at all. Haidu’s CD and the book and documentary film that will accompany it, are dedicated to the late pianist Kenny Kirkland, a name that might be unfamiliar to all but the geekiest jazz fans. Mention him to jazz insiders, though, and they will describe him as a genius and a monster player.

Leave a Comment

Previewing the Erie Chamber Orchestra’s April 19 concert

Kathleen Bride

In the popular imagination, the harp is associated with winged celestial musicians or with mute, curly-haired film comics. Most people just don’t take it terribly seriously.

The French are an exception. The modern concert harp was perfected in France and found champions among French composers. Two of them, Debussy and Ravel, will be featured on tomorrow night’s program by the Erie Chamber Orchestra with soloist Kathleen Bride.

She’ll play Debussy’s “Sacred and Profane Dances” and Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, the latter in an arrangement for string octet, clarinet and flute. The reduced instrumentation of the latter piece provides a theme of sorts for this eighth concert in the Chamber Orchestra’s series of free concerts. And Orchestra executive director Steve Weiser is a fan.

“Of all the concerts this season, I’ve been looking forward to this the most,” Weiser said. “It’s music a chamber orchestra seldom gets to play.”

That music also includes Debussy’s orchestral ballet score “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” in an arrangement attributed to the Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg, and the original version of American composer Aaron Copland’s iconic “Appalachian Spring” ballet, written for an ensemble of 13 players.

“I remember the first time I heard the Copland at Aspen, and it blew my mind,” Weiser said, and with good reason. The ballet’s program, which portrays a wedding day in rural Pennsylvania, is evoked with stunning clarity in the reduced instrumentation. You can almost smell the morning breeze in Copland’s airy textures. Clarity is also a hallmark of the Debussy arrangement, one of the few (Ravel’s of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures At An Exhibition” is another), to improve on the original work.

“Faun” will provide a busman’s holiday of sorts for Bruce Gingrich, who is Minister of Worship and Music at First United Methodist Church, where the concert will be held. He’ll play an instrument with an intriguing history. It is a harmonium, a kind of pump organ that was purchased for $100 from a consignment store, and restored by Erie’s Organ Supply Industries. The piece’s crucial piano part will be played by Claudia Hoca, keyboard principal of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, who will return to Erie next fall as the soloist for the ECO’s October concert.

Mozart’s miniature Divertimento in F, K. 138, written for a small string orchestra when the boy genius was all of 16, begins the program. It’s juvenilia to be sure, but like the harp, it’s music from heaven.

The Erie Chamber Orchestra, with harpist Kathleen Bride, will perform a program of music by Mozart, Debussy, Ravel and Copland tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 707 Sassafras Street. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information on The Erie Chamber Orchestra visit

Comments closed