UVA Jazz Ensemble presents Natural Synergies

with special guests Glen Whitehead, Cuong Vu and the Cuong Vu Trio
April 29, 2017 - 8:00pm
Old Cabell Hall
$10/$9 UVA Faculty & Staff /$5 students/ free for UVA Students who reserve in advance

Cuong Vu TrioThe UVA JAZZ ENSEMBLE presents Natural Synergies with guest trumpeters Glen Whitehead and Cuong Vu, the Cuong Vu Trio, and an extended composition by Matthew Burtner.

On Saturday, April 29, in Old Cabell Hall, the UVA Jazz Ensemble, directed by John D’earth, will present their spring offering: Natural Synergies.  The concert is aptly named, combining an array of elements that make this one of the most ambitious concerts in the UVA Jazz Ensemble’s long history.  

The current chair of the McIntire Dept of Music, Matthew Burtner, is a renowned composer who combines computer/electronic/synthesized music with live acoustic music.  His extended work, Ecoacoustic Concerto (Eagle Rock), is composed from geological sonifications and field recordings of Eagle Rock in Colorado Springs.  He originally composed it for the Jazz Ensemble’s extraordinary guest trumpet players, modern jazz phenom Cuong Vu, and veteran virtuoso-in-multiple-genres Glen Whitehead.  Glen and Cuong will lead the Jazz Ensemble in a new iteration of the piece re-orchestrated for the UVA band.  Also featured will be the rest of Cuong Vu’s acclaimed trio, bassist Stomu Takeishi and Glen Whiteheaddrummer Ted Poor.  Cuong Vu is widely recognized by jazz critics as a leader of a generation of innovative musicians. A truly unique musical voice, Cuong has lent his trumpet playing talents to a wide range of artists including Pat Metheny, Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, Dave Douglas, and Myra Melford.   

The synergies in the April 29th concert abound; synergies between between electronic and acoustic music, between technology and nature, between jazz and 20th century classical music traditions, between improvisation and composition, between students and practitioners from the highest level of their art form, and between the audience and the performers as members of the audience take up mini-scores and pairs of rocks to perform with the musicians in a segment of Burtner’s work.

“This has got to be the most complicated and artistically rich concert we’ve ever undertaken,” says Jazz Ensemble director John D’earth.  “It all started when Matthew and I decided it would be great for him to compose a piece for the band.  And here we are.  As a trumpet player I can say that the trumpet guests are at the very top level of brass playing and their creative visions are on the extreme cutting edge of what modern music is all about.  But there is more to Matthew’s piece than the electronics, the avant-garde improvisatory aspects, the virtuosic writing, and the scientific measurements of natural phenomena, like rocks and weather, that compose one foundation of his work.  There are meditative instructions in the piece that make the performance something like an exercise in mindfulness: the audience plays their rocks but must remember something; the trumpeters, on the first performance, were instructed to literally go and meditate at Eagle Rock just before the concert. Though musicians are familiar with using visualization such instructions would not be expected from composers like Beethoven and Mozart, or even Duke Ellington!”

Another important linchpin of this musical extravaganza is the celebration of eight departing members of the band and their contributions as section leaders and soloists. Those student musicians will be featured throughout the concert as soloists and in interaction with the four guests. The UVA Jazz Ensemble is known for its iconoclastic approach to defining what a college jazz ensemble can do.  The band performs a wide cross section of the normally accepted classic jazz repertoire from Duke Ellington to Thad Jones, Charlie Parker, Coltrane, and beyond.  But the students also write their own music, perform music by the director and other musicians who appear with them, and improvise collectively in the manner of Sun Ra or Ornette Coleman.  Specially featured will be outgoing lead tenor, Matthew Smith, grad student and newly-minted PhD trumpeter Harrison Frye, lead alto saxophonist Justin Peruzzi, and pianist Peter Hodskins who is contributing a new composition entitled “I’ll Tell You What It Is Later.”

Natural Synergies with the UVA Jazz Ensemble promises to be an unforgettable experience of immersion in a musical maelstrom.

The residency includes a colloquium by Cuong Vu and Glen Whitehead on Friday, April 28 at 3:30pm in room 107. There will be a pre-concert lecture at 7pm in 107 Old Cabell Hall featuring a conversation about the music between Matthew Burtner and John D’earth. 

After the concert there will be a reception in the lobby of Old Cabell to honor Michael Gassmann and the Gassmann Fund for Innovation in Music.   Audience members are encouraged to attend the reception and meet the members of the UVA Jazz Ensemble, John D'earth, Matthew Burtner, Michael Gassmann, and our special guests Cuong Vu, Stomu Takeishi, Ted Poor and Glen Whitehead.


Tickets are $10 for the general public, $9 for UVA faculty and staff, $5 for students and free for UVA students who reserve in advance. Tickets can be purchased at the Arts Box Office by calling 434.924.3376 or visiting www.artsboxoffice.virginia.edu.

Old Cabell Hall is located on the south end of UVA's historic lawn, directly opposite the Rotunda (map). Parking is available in the Central Grounds parking garage on Emmet Street, in the C1 parking lot off McCormick Rd, and in the parking lots at the UVA Corner.  Handicap parking is available in the small parking lot adjacent to Bryan Hall.

This concert is supported by the Gassmann Fund for Innovation in Music, the Music Synergies Initiative and the Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia.

All programs are subject to change. 


McIntire Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176

Email: music@virginia.edu