Pianist Greg Kostraba highlights Purdue Bands' winter music gala
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Pianist Greg Kostraba expresses his creativity during the day as program director for WBAA Radio. Out of the office, and on stage, he's a passionate pianist. As part of Purdue Bands & Orchestra's Winter Music Gala on Feb. 19, he'll perform two works for piano and orchestra that were written by prominent African-American composers.
The Winter Music Gala, features five concert bands and two orchestras in three separate Long Center concerts on Friday (Feb. 17), and Feb. 18 and 19. The opening concert at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 features the Purdue Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band. The 8 p.m. Feb. 18 concert features the Varsity, Collegiate and Purdue Concert bands. The 2:30 p.m. Feb. 19 concert features the Purdue Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras with Kostraba.
Admission to all the concerts is free.
February is Black History Month, and Kostraba's performance spotlights music by two of the most admired African-American composers of all time - James Johnson and William Grant Still. A pianist who bridged the ragtime and jazz eras, Johnson was a pioneer of the stride style of jazz piano. William Grant Still, who created everything from symphonies to TV themes, and is known for shows like "Gunsmoke" and "Perry Mason," is considered the Dean of African-American composers.
With the Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Andrew King, Kostraba will perform Johnson's "Yamekraw, A Negro Rhapsody" for jazz piano and orchestra that was inspired by the success of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." Originally premiered in 1928, it is named after a black community in Savannah, Ga.
Still's "Dismal Swamp" is the piece Kostraba will tackle with the Philharmonic Orchestra. It metaphorically refers to slavery.
The concert also contains a variety of other works, including a couple with Biblical references. Giuseppe Verdi's "Nabucco Overture," from his 1842 opera, retells the Biblical story of the slavery and eventual exile of the Jews under the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. "The Dance of the Seven Veils" comes from Richard Strauss' 1905 operatic adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "Salome." In it Salome uses a sensual dance to persuade King Herod to deliver John the Baptist's head on a platter.
During both the Friday and Saturday night concerts, Ward Miller from the University of South Alabama will be a guest conductor.
On Feb. 18, the Varsity Band, under the direction of Chad Downey and Jay Gephart, headlines its set with Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera."
The Gala's opening concert Feb. 17 features a set by the Purdue Wind Ensemble that it will perform at the prestigious American Bandmasters Association's national conference on Feb. 29. It is the third time in Purdue's history that the Wind Ensemble has been asked to perform at the conference.
The Winter Music Gala is presented by Purdue Bands & Orchestras, which offers a variety of free jazz, concert band and orchestra concerts. For more information visit http://www.purdue.edu/bands
Contact: Kathy Matter, 765-496-6785, firstname.lastname@example.org