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Blackstar Symphony, The Music of David Bowie
BLACKSTAR SYMPHONY, The Music of David Bowie
WORLD PREMIERE of Blackstar Symphony: The Music of David Bowie
A collaboration between BLACKSTAR SYMPHONY Artistic Director Donny McCaslin and The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, led by Conductor Tim Davies, the concert is a unique and singular interpretation of the music of Blackstar, Bowie’s final album, which was released two days before his death in 2016.
Donny McCaslin was Bowie’s musical partner and saxophone player on the original Blackstar recording. He conceived the idea to re-imagine Bowie’s work for a full symphonic orchestra, performing along with his jazz quartet and two vocalists.
Actor, playwright, screenwriter, and director John Cameron Mitchell – best known as the creator and star of the 2001 film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, will be joining BLACKSTAR SYMPHONY as a guest artist.
Propelled by a 65-piece orchestra, BLACKSTAR SYMPHONY features musical arrangements by world-renowned orchestrators Jules Buckley, Tim Davies, Vince Mendoza, Maria Schneider, Jamshied Sharifi, Tony Visconti, Michael Dudley Jr., and Vellu Halkosalmi. Act I showcases the first ever live performance of the entire Blackstar album with full symphony orchestra. Act II celebrates Bowie’s beloved musical catalog with touchstone Bowie compositions including “Heroes,” “Life on Mars,” “Suffragette City,” “Space Oddity,” and more that serve as a reminder of the pervasiveness of Bowie’s presence in pop culture.
BLACKSTAR SYMPHONY CREATIVE TEAM
Donny McCaslin (Artistic Director, Co-Music Director) is best known as the saxophonist on David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar. The noted composer and bandleader has released a dozen albums over his genre-defying, Grammy-nominated career. McCaslin began playing at age 12, and as a teenager, performed in his vibraphonist father’s band in Santa Cruz. By high school, he had appeared multiple times at the Monterey Jazz Festival. After attending Berkelee College of Music on a full scholarship, McCaslin became a sought-after player in New York City. David Bowie saw McCaslin perform as soloist for the Maria Schneider Orchestra and brought in McCaslin’s progressive jazz quartet that came to define Blackstar’s visionary stylistic fusion. As David Hadju wrote in The Nation, “Donny McCaslin was David Bowie’s David Bowie.” In turn, Bowie influenced McCaslin, who fused alt-rock and jazz on his first album with lyrics, 2018’s BLOW. Donny McCaslin now brings you the Blackstar Symphony, the most electrifying presentation of Bowie’s final work to date.
Jules Buckley (Co-Music Director, Orchestrator) Grammy-winning composer, arranger, and conductor, Jules Buckley has collaborated on a staggering discography of over 70 albums.
Jules has curated live and recording projects reimagining styles from jazz, disco, and soul to electronica, global, and avant-garde for orchestra with some of the hottest names in music including Quincy Jones, Snarky Puppy, Michael Kiwanuka, Jacob Collier, Bokanté, Lianne La Havas, Massive Attack and many more. Jules is co-founder and conductor of the Heritage Orchestra, Honorary Conductor of the Metropole Orkest (following his tenure as Chief Conductor), and Chief Artist in Association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. More info: julesbuckley.com |Management: harmonicartists.com
Tim Davies (Conductor, Orchestrator) is a Grammy-nominated and Annie-winning composer, arranger, orchestrator, and conductor. He is a respected lead orchestrator and regular conductor in studios from Los Angeles to London. His credits for film and television include La La Land, Free Guy, Frozen movies, both Ant-Man movies, and many others. He also recently conducted his own award-winning score to Maya and the Three, recorded in Sydney, Australia. No stranger to the concert hall, he has led a number of live concerts, including for the National Symphony Orchestras of both the US and Taiwan.
CHARLOTTE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Founded in 1932, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is committed to uplifting, entertaining, and educating the diverse communities of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and beyond through exceptional musical experiences. A cornerstone of Charlotte’s arts and cultural landscape, the CSO is the oldest continually operating symphony orchestra in the Carolinas and connects with more than 100,000 music lovers annually through live concerts, broadcasts, community events, and education programs. The CSO employs 62 professional full-time orchestra musicians, serves three youth orchestras, and offers significant educational programming aimed at improving areas of our community with the greatest need. The Charlotte Symphony plays a leading cultural role in the Charlotte area and aims to serve the community as a civic leader, reflecting and uniting our region through the transformative power of live music.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Gail Ann Dorsey (Vocalist) is known as one of David Bowie’s longest-serving bandmates as bassist and vocalist, recording, and touring the world many times over since 1995 to his untimely death 2016. She sang lead vocals live on the showstopper “Under Pressure,” taking the part originally recorded by Freddie Mercury. She has toured and recorded countless acts including Tears for Fears, Lenny Kravitz, Bryan Ferry, and served as bandleader for Gwen Stefani. Recently, she is was a featured vocalist on albums by The National and Matt Berninger and has released three solo albums: The Corporate World, Rude Blue, and I Used To Be…
Jason Lindner (Keyboard) (aka flymyspcshp) is an experimental electronic musician, sound designer, pianist, keyboardist, composer, arranger and producer from Brooklyn, NY. He is the brainchild of the future-bass synth-wave trio, Now Vs Now, and is the keyboardist on David Bowie’s final masterpiece, ‘̣’ (blak-stär) for which producer Tony Visconti called Jason a “Godsend.” In a continually evolving artistic career, the Brooklyn-native founded and led Now Vs Now, the Jason Lindner Big Band and several other projects, and has collaborated with luminaries such as Meshell Ndegeocello, Lauryn Hill, Mulatu Astatke, Angelique Kidjo’s ‘Talking Heads’ Remain In Light’ re-imagined, Matisyahu, Danny Elfman, Yebba, 3RDEYEGIRL’s Donna Grantis, Marc Ribot, Kill Alters, Donny McCaslin, Mark Guiliana, Anat Cohen, Gnawa Nova, and many others.
David Poe (Vocalist) has toured the world with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Tori Amos, The Jayhawks, and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze. A composer fellow of the Sundance Institute, his work features in numerous film, TV, dance and theater projects, official selections of the Sundance Film Festival, and non-profit projects including the Malala Fund and the You Mean The World Foundation.
Poe’s songs have been performed by a wide array of artists, including Curtis Stigers, Oh Land, Ana Moura, C.C. White, Thomas Dybdahl and the cast of ABC’s Nashville, and recorded by producers including T-Bone Burnett, Larry Klein, Buddy Miller, and Dave Sitek. He has also produced recordings for other artists, including Regina Spektor and Kraig Jarret Johnson. Shadowland, his collaboration with contemporary dance company Pilobolus, toured for a decade and was performed on five continents, for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and was released as a feature film.
Transplanted from the American Midwest to New York City, David Poe served as the sound engineer at CBGB’s 313 Gallery before signing with Sony/Epic. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
Nate Wood (Drummer/Bassist) is also a world-renowned mastering engineer, having mastered hundreds of records from around the globe. For a partial list: https://www.allmusic.com/artist/nate-wood-mn0000184076/credits
“Nate Wood pulls us into an industrial, neon dystopia with tunes that stand alone as headphone music without the accompanying visuals, meticulously crafted and with precise execution. This isn’t novelty music. You’re hearing (and seeing) a mastermind songwriter and mad scientist at work.” – Colin Marshall (NPR “Tiny Desk”)
Michael Dudley is a freelance multi-instrumentalist, composer, and orchestrator from Cincinnati, Ohio. Since earning a degree in Commercial Music Production at the University of Cincinnati, Michael has participated in many ensembles and concert series. These include the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp Big Band, the South Florida Jazz Orchestra, GRAMMY® Award-winning Brian Lynch Big Band, and the John Daversa Big Band, with which he recorded on the multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning album, American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom (Featuring DACA artists). He has shared the stage with the likes of John Williams, Quincy Jones, Maria Schneider, Take 6, Steve Miller, and many other notable artists across the music world. Michael is a graduate of the University of Miami – Frost School of Music, where he is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Trumpet Performance.
Vellu Halkosalmi is a guitarist, composer, arranger and conductor from Helsinki, Finland. He has been a sought-after arranger and bandleader for 20 years now, best known for his work with the Metropole Orchestra (NL), WDR Big Band (GER), and many other premiere European Big Bands and orchestras. During his career, Halkosalmi has also been actively working in the field of music education. He spent a decade teaching at Pop & Jazz Conservatory in Helsinki and is the co-author of the best-selling music theory/ear training book in his homeland. Since 2017 he has been working for Yousician, the award-winning music education app.
Vince Mendoza has been at the forefront of the contemporary music scene as a composer, conductor and recording artist for the last 30 years, writing scores of compositions and arrangements for big band, chamber and symphonic settings. His credits read like a “who’s who” of the best modern instrumentalists and singers in the world today. He has 6 Grammy awards and 34 nominations. Mendoza is the composer in residence with the West Deutsche Rundfunk in Köln and the Conductor Laureate of the Netherlands Metropole Orkest. Mendoza’s new recording “Freedom Over Everything” features his compositions with Antonio Sanchez, Julia Bullock, MC Black Thought and the Czech National Symphony. www.vincemendoza.net
Maria Schneider’s music, largely composed for her collective made up of many of the finest musicians in jazz today, has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, and heart-stoppingly gorgeous.” Blurring lines between genres, she’s received 14 GRAMMY nominations and 7 GRAMMY awards in jazz, classical, and for her work with David Bowie. Honors also include numerous awards from the Jazz Journalists Association, DOWNBEAT and JAZZTIMES, ASCAP’s Concert Music Award (2014), the nation’s highest honor in jazz, “NEA Jazz Master” (2019), and election into the 2020 American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her album, Concert in the Garden, featuring Donny McCaslin’s GRAMMY®-nominated solo, received the distinct honor of being inducted into the 2019 National Recording Registry.
Jamshied Sharifi is a New York-based composer, producer, and keyboardist. He has composed the scores for the feature films Harriet The Spy, Down To Earth, Clockstoppers, and Muppets From Space, as well as contributing music to numerous other films and television shows. As a producer, arranger, and keyboardist, he has recorded and/or performed with Paula Cole, Ray Charles, Dream Theater, Laurie Anderson, Hassan Hakmoun, Snatam Kaur, and many others, and has written orchestrations for the Broadway shows The Last Ship and The Band’s Visit (for which he won a Tony Award in 2018).
Tony Visconti Three-time Grammy winner, Tony Visconti, was born in Brooklyn and moved to London in 1967 to begin a career that led to him becoming one of the most important music producers in history. Since Bowie released his eponymous album, David Bowie, produced by Visconti in 1969, Tony has been a vital part of Bowie’s career including his final album, Blackstar, winning two Grammys and Album of the Year at the Brit Awards. Visconti also produced iconic music by T. Rex, Morrissey, Sparks, the Moody Blues, Thin Lizzy, The Good, The Bad & The Queen and many others.