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Savannah Music Festival

Marcus Roberts Trio


SMF Associate Artistic Director Marcus Roberts offers another extraordinary look into his original artistry with a rare full-concert SMF appearance with his trio featuring bassist Rodney Jordan and drummer Jason Marsalis. After nearly 20 years of performing together, the near telepathic sound of the Marcus Roberts Trio is one in which all the musicians share equally in shaping the direction of the music through changing its tempo, mood, texture or form, through a system of musical cues. As a result, each trio member’ss enormous individual talent is showcased along with the powerfully rhythmic group sound. One of the most enjoyable aspects of a Marcus Roberts Trio concert is that these three musicians are really having fun playing together, which means you’re in for a lunchtime set that is sure to be enjoyable and swinging.

“We call him ‘the genius of the modern piano’ because he is.” —Wynton Marsalis



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Director's Choice


Receive 10% off when you purchase three or more of the 2015 Director’s Choice concerts:
Chamber Music I: Around Beethoven
Chamber Music II: Orchestral Masterworks
Chamber Music III: Brahms & His Influences
Chamber Music IV: Early Masters
Chamber Music VI: Emerson String Quartet with Daniel Hope & Friends
Chamber Music VII: Vive la France
Chamber Music X: Passionate Piano Quartets
SMF & SVF present "Suor Angelica" & "Gianni Schicchi"
Come Rain or Come Shine
The Barr Brothers/Apache Relay
Recitals I: Nikolai Lugansky
Recitals III: Stephen Hough
Recitals IV: Murray Perahia
Recitals V: Paul Lewis
Warren Vache Quintet/Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Giants of Texas Swing
Kayhan Kalhor & Brooklyn Rider
Bela Fleck & Brooklyn Rider
Chamber Music VIII: Brooklyn Rider
Latin Dance Party
South Africa Meets the American South
Cajun Dance Party
Mike Marshall & Choro Famoso
The Brazilian Soul
The World of Clarice Assad
AMS Finale: Stringband Spectacular

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RECITALS IV: Murray Perahia, piano


Murray Perahia’s Savannah debut could be the most highly anticipated classical piano event in the history of SMF. In the more than 40 years that he has been performing on the concert stage, Perahia has become one of the most sought-after and cherished pianists of our time, performing in all of the major international music centers and with every leading orchestra. He is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, with whom he has toured as conductor and pianist throughout the world. He is the recipient of two GRAMMY Awards, for his recordings of Chopin’s complete √âtudes and Bach’s English Suites Nos. 1, 3 and 6, and has won several Gramophone Awards. Perahia is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, and he holds honorary doctorates from Leeds University and Duke University. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, in recognition of his outstanding service to music.

“The qualities that make Perahia one of today’s leading artists of the keyboard lie in his ability to shine a penetrating and personal light on such music, in such a way that there is nothing at all “standard” about it. In other words, the commanding insights he brings to this repertory are more than enough to breathe freshness and distinction into works we’ve heard many times before, but seldom played at this inspired level.” —Chicago Tribune



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New Orleans Soul & Brass Party: Irma Thomas/Dirty Dozen Brass Band


Internationally heralded as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans” singer Irma Thomas had her first hit single “You Can Have My Husband, But Don’t Mess with My Man” (1960) when she was just 19 years old. With a career spanning six decades, Thomas is a Louisiana Music Hall of Famer and GRAMMY Award winning artist. Growing up listening to Mahalia Jackson and Pearl Bailey, Thomas developed a rich vocal style with an awareness of what it means to be a true entertainer. She remains one of America’s most distinctive singers, a treasure from the golden age of soul music whose performances are as compelling and powerful as ever.

In 1977, The Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club in New Orleans began showcasing a traditional Crescent City brass band. It was a joining of two proud, antiquated traditions at the time: social and pleasure clubs dated back over a century to when black southerners could rarely afford life insurance and the clubs would provide proper funeral arrangements. Brass bands, early predecessors of jazz, would often follow the funeral procession playing somber dirges, before bursting into jubilant tunes as casual onlookers danced in the streets. By the late 70s, few of either existed. Thirty-seven years later, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band (DDBB) is a world famous music ensemble whose name is synonymous with genre-bending romps and high-octane performances. The DDBB has maintained an appetite for musicological adventure, a commitment to honor tradition while not being constrained by it, and a healthy sense of humor. Whether reinvigorating standards or looking beyond the New Orleans songbook, the DDBB remains a wellspring of musical inspiration and a living, breathing embodiment of the Crescent City sound.



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Hot Rize


For a dozen years beginning in 1978, the band Hot Rize was arguably the most influential bluegrass band of its time. While their name was a knowing nod to Flatt & Scruggs’s long-time flour mill sponsor, Hot Rize’s music was and is equally informed by a taste for the music of Leadbelly and Freddie King, swing, old-time Appalachia and more in ways that mirror the broad sweep of Bill Monroe’s influences. So when Hot Rize retired in 1990, it was natural for members to go on to distinguished careers of their own, although there was an occasional group reunion. Now, 24 years after their last studio album, this incredible foursome brings an even deeper strength to bear with a new recording and tour. Multi-instrumentalist and singer Tim O’Brien, who closed out SMF 2014 with Darrell Scott at the Acoustic Music Seminar finale, performs alongside early members Pete Wernick and Nick Forster. Renowned flatpicker Bryan Sutton, in place of the late Charles Sawtelle, says “Nobody’s been a bigger Hot Rize fan than me, and that’s a perspective I’ve tried to maintain as a member of the band. I’m excited about this new record, and I can’t wait to introduce new fans to the Hot Rize experience.”

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2015 Atlanta Symphony Orchestra


Dvorak - Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191
Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

In their tenth consecutive SMF appearance, the world-renowned Atlanta Symphony Orchestra brings a powerful program of symphonic masterworks. Music sometimes expresses feelings better than words. Dvorak’s Cello Concerto captures all of the grandeur of a big symphonic concerto and conveys the composer’s grief at the loss of his sister-in-law, Josefina, with whom he was deeply in love (in spite of being married to her sister). Tchaikovsky once wrote, “an artist lives a double life: an everyday human life and an artistic life, and the two do not always go hand in hand.” His Fourth Symphony is a clear expression of that struggle to find his artistic voice, and it remains one of the most frequently performed symphonies of the late 19th century, while also ranking as one of Tchaikovsky’s finest.



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Latin Dance Party: Adonis Puentes & The Voice of Cuba Orchestra


Fronting a dynamite ten-piece band, Cuban born Adonis Puentes is a GRAMMY-nominated singer and bandleader who opens up the marvelous world of Cuban music with syncopated rhythms, propulsive bass lines, nuanced horn arrangements and melodic piano and guitar. Back in the dance-friendly environs of the Charles H. Morris Center, audiences can expect joyful performances of hip-shaking song at this year’s Latin Dance Party. Come dance the night away!

“Original compositions richly imbued with tradition; superb arrangements with an international flavor; and a world-class band that delivers with great precision.” —Latin Jazz Network



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CHAMBER MUSIC V: Emerson String Quartet


Beethoven - String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major, Op. 127
Beethoven - String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132

Making their fifth appearance at SMF (and first since the 2012 season), this all-Beethoven concert marks the first time Savannah audiences can see the renowned Emerson String Quartet with new cellist Paul Watkins in action. The arrival of Watkins in 2013 has had a profound effect on the Emerson Quartet. Watkins, a distinguished soloist, award-winning conductor and devoted chamber musician, joined the ensemble in its 37th season, and his dedication and enthusiasm have infused the Quartet with a warm, rich tone and a palpable joy in the collaborative process. The reconfigured group has been greeted with impressive accolades.

“One of the characteristics of the Emerson Quartet is that its players all have the ability and the instruments to produce a sweet and glossy sound‚Äîbut do so sparingly. Instead, they establish a chromatic scale of timbres that range from dry and tart over clean and zesty all the way to lustrous and singing.” —The New York Times

Eugene Drucker, violin
Philip Setzer, violin
Lawrence Dutton, viola
Paul Watkins, cello



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Giants of Texas Swing: Hot Club of Cowtown/Asleep at the Wheel


This three-day run at the Charles H. Morris Center brings together two of the most influential bands playing western swing today, Hot Club of Cowtown and Asleep at the Wheel. Hot Club of Cowtown’s influences have always been as much the musette music of the smoky bistros of 1930s Paris as they are the hoedowns and Western swing of the mythic American West. Praised for their “down-home melodies and exuberant improvisation” (The Times of London), the Hot Club has set up camp “at that crossroads where country meets jazz and chases the blues away” (The Independent), and “conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time” (The New York Times).

Asleep at the Wheel has seen miles and miles of Texas. They got their kicks on Route 66, and in 2010, the band clicked another milestone on the odometer—their 40th anniversary. Altogether, they have won nine GRAMMY Awards since their 1970 inception. In their career, they have released more than twenty studio albums, and have charted more than twenty singles on the Billboard country charts. The band continues to introduce the western swing genre to new generations of listeners. Taking a page from Bob Wills’ book, the band has constantly toured at a national level throughout its history, with anywhere from 7 to 15 of the finest players that founder Ray Benson could talk into jumping on the bus to play a string of dates. The alumni roster is over 80+ members, and includes an impressive list of musicians who have gone on to perform with artists such as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Lyle Lovett and many more.



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Julian Lage & Jorge Roeder


Guitarist, composer and arranger Julian Lage is often categorized as a jazz musician, though his music is also rooted in traditional and acoustic forms. In addition to five prior SMF performances both solo and with a variety of collaborators including Mark O’Connor, Martin Taylor, Mike Marshall and Casey Driessen, Julian Lage has served on the faculty of SMF’s Acoustic Music Seminar (see page 47) since its inception in 2012. For this special lunchtime concert, Lage is joined by Jorge Roeder, one of the most versatile bassists on the New York jazz scene. Roeder was awarded first prize at the 2007 International Society Of Bassists Jazz Competition, was a semi-finalist at the 2009 Thelonious Monk Jazz Bass Competition, and has played with such luminaries as Steve Lacy, Gary Burton and Kenny Werner. In this duo project, Julian Lage and Jorge Roeder display incredible musicianship, creative improvisation and boundless creativity.

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CHAMBER MUSIC VI: Emerson String Quartet with Daniel Hope & Friends


Ravel - String Quartet in F Major
Liebermann - String Quartet No. 5, Op. 126
Bruch - Octet for Strings in B-flat Major (Op. posth.)

The Emerson String Quartet opens this concert with Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major, one of the most widely performed works in the chamber music repertoire. Despite early pushback from the Parisian press and academia, in addition to criticisms of the work by Gabriel Faure (to whom it was dedicated), the Quartet in F Major was a pivotal point in Ravel’s career and marks the start of his rise from obscurity. Liebermann’s String Quartet No. 5 was commissioned by Music Accord for the Emerson String Quartet. This program concludes with the Bruch Octet for Strings performed by Daniel Hope & Friends with three members of the Emerson: Eugene Drucker, Lawrence Dutton and Paul Watkins. The octet was one of Bruch’s final works, and was lost after his death until 1996, when it premiered.

Lorenza Borrani, violin
Eugene Drucker, violin
Daniel Hope, violin
Benny Kim, violin
Philip Setzer, violin
Lawrence Dutton, viola
Carla Maria Rodrigues, viola
Paul Watkins, cello
Joseph Conyers, double bass



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Kayhan Kalhor & Brooklyn Rider


Kayhan Kalhor is an acclaimed Persian musician and a founding member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. A virtuoso on the kamancheh (spike fiddle), his performances of traditional Persian music and his unique collaborations have attracted audiences around the globe. In his SMF debut, Kalhor will be performing with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, an adventurous, genre-defying string quartet that combines a wildly eclectic repertoire with a gripping performance style that is attracting legions of fans and drawing critical acclaim from music reviewers from all genres. NPR credits Brooklyn Rider with “recreating the 300-year-old form of string quartet as a vital and creative 21st-century ensemble.” The musicians play in concert halls and clubs, in venues as varied as Joe’s Pub in New York City, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, Todai-ji Temple in Japan, the Library of Congress and SxSW. In addition to multiple performances, Brooklyn Rider will be teaching young musicians during SMF’s Acoustic Music Seminar.

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CHAMBER MUSIC VII: Vive la France


Ravel - Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano (posthume)
Saint-Saens - Piano Quartet No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 41
Milhaud - Sonatine for Violin and Viola, Op. 226
Chausson - Piano Quartet in A Major, Op. 30 This all-French program spotlights two of the great works in the piano quartet literature. Though Saint-Saens and Chausson both wrote opera and song, areas of primary focus for many of their contemporaries, the two composers stood out with their substantial contributions to the chamber music repertoire.

Lorenza Borrani, violin
Daniel Hope, violin
Benny Kim, violin
Carla Maria Rodrigues, viola
Eric Kim, cello
Keith Robinson, cello
Simon Crawford-Phillips, piano



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Bela Fleck with Brooklyn Rider


Banjoist/composer Bela Fleck has performed on seven different occasions at SMF, each time with distinctly different projects. His 2015 appearance will be no exception, as he joins forces with the acclaimed string quartet Brooklyn Rider during their 2015 SMF residency. NPR credits Brooklyn Rider with “recreating the 300-year-old form of string quartet as a vital and creative 21st-century ensemble.” The musicians play in concert halls and clubs, in venues as varied as Joe’s Pub in New York City, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, Todai-ji Temple in Japan, the Library of Congress and SxSW. In addition to multiple performances, Brooklyn Rider will be teaching young musicians during SMF’s Acoustic Music Seminar. Of this new collaboration, Bela Fleck remarks: “After doing my research on string quartets, a powerful tide pushed me towards Brooklyn Rider, one of the very special groups playing in this format today. They play a lot of new music, and the format of banjo with string quartet was so compelling that we decided to create a whole night of music and tour with it.” Fleck has written several new compositions for the ensemble, which will be showcased at this concert.

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The Wailers


Following up their 2013 SMF appearance, The Wailers return to the Trustees Theater with frontman Dwayne Anglin, known as Danglin. The anchor of The Wailers is Aston “Family Man” Barrett, who in addition to being Marley’s most trusted lieutenant, played on countless other classic reggae hits throughout the seventies. The authenticity he brings to the Wailers’ sound is indisputable and yet today’s line-up combines old school know-how with lead vocals from one of Jamaica’s most exciting new singers.

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