Since October 18, members of the Musical Exchange community of young musicians have been getting acquainted with a new project that encourages the creation of new arrangements of the music of Duke Ellington.
The arranging project is one component of this season’s Ellington’s Sacred Music creative learning project, which shines the spotlight on some of the most ambitious and heartfelt music of Duke Ellington’s legendary career. First heard during three historic concerts in the 1960s and 1970s, Ellington’s sacred music will be performed this spring by hundreds of student singers and instrumentalists from New York City in collaboration with some of today’s brightest jazz soloists.
Also as part of the Ellington’s Sacred Music project, creative work by New York teens inspired by Duke Ellington will be showcased in a concert at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, March 30, 2014, along with two new arrangements from Musical Exchange members who will be selected based on their submissions. Musical Exchange members will be given access to recordings and scores of two selections from Ellington’s sacred repertoire: “Come Sunday” and “Almighty God Has Those Angels.” They are being asked to limit the instruments in their arrangements to trumpet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trombone, baritone saxophone, piano, bass, drums, and female voice. Arrangements must also include space for improvisation and should showcase the composer’s unique voice while maintaining the strengths of Ellington’s original music.
Young composers and arrangers will be supported throughout the project by composer-arranger Darcy James Argue, who will post blogs and resources and provide direct feedback to Musical Exchange members. Final arrangements must be submitted through Musical Exchange by December 15, 2013, and selected arrangements will be announced by the end of January 2014.
This project is a great opportunity for young composers to hone their arranging skills, learn about the music of Duke Ellington, and get feedback from a professional composer-arranger. And for the selected arrangements, a premiere performance at Carnegie Hall is not a bad way to conclude the experience.