Programme Booklet | Jazz Origins | 18 June 2022

Page 1


Jazz Origins





conducted by QUENTIN CLARE

THE KURT WEILL FOUNDATION FOR MUSIC This performance is funded in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc., New York, NY

Dedication close enough for jazz

A Dedication to Alan Waller

After the first bang of spoon on pan lid, or plonk of chocolatey palms on keyboard, comes musical tuition, technique, and practice. If you’re lucky, you may also find an inspiration. Mine was Alan Waller. Alan was a clarinettist, saxophonist, and band leader in Teesside. After playing in military bands, he formed his own band, ultimately playing with the big names of the day and accompanying the Ballroom Dancing World Championships.

I first met Alan when my seriously fusty clarinet teacher resigned. Alan was a breath of fresh air. Our lessons were full of corny jokes; Alan would hold the bell of his clarinet to his ear and speak into the mouthpiece, as if it was a candlestick telephone, “I’m still waiting for that call from Glen Miller”.

I always laughed. Alan quickly realised what I didn’t yet know - that I was a terrible musician without any real aptitude for classical music. Instead, he suggested something revolutionary: I stop failing exams and enjoy making music instead. Whenever I played a particularly bad note in some Mozart piece, he would look at me sideways with a cheeky twinkle in his eye, and say “Well, it’s close enough for jazz…” He taught me that if you worry too much at the beginning about getting things wrong, you’ll never even start. It was this attitude that we adopted when we set up The Brigantes.

Alan died in 2005. Like many teachers, he would never know the influence he had on my life, or his role in setting up this orchestra. Alan never got the call from Glen Miller. But I’m glad I got the call from Alan Waller. Without him, none of us would be here today. This concert is dedicated to him.



The Brigantes Orchestra

David Milsom leader

Christopher Devine piano

Quentin Clare conductor


Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing) (1936/1937/2022)

KURT WEILL (1900 to 1950) (arr. BENNETT)

Symphonic Nocturne - The Lady in the Dark (1941)

I “My Ship”: Andante misterioso -

II “Glamour Theme”: Andante amoroso -

III “Driving the Blue Car”: Allegro animato -

IV “Girl of the Moment”: Moderato -

V “This is New”: Tranquillo -

VI “Wedding Music” and “Bolero”: Tempo di Bolero -

VII “Circus”: Allegro alla marcia and “The Tumblers”: Allegro -

VII “The Saga of Jenny”

GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898 to 1937) (arr. Grofé)

Rhapsody in Blue (1924)

INTERVAL c.2010hrs

GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898 to 1937)

Variations for Piano and Orchestra, “I Got Rhythm” (1934)

WILLIAM GRANT STILL (1895 to 1978)

Symphony No. 1 in A-Flat major, “Afro-American” (1930)

I “Longing”: Moderato assai

II “Sorrow”: Adagio

III “Humour”: Animato

IV “Aspiration”: Lento, con risoluzione

FINISH c.2115hrs

We invite you to join us for a drink after the concert with a chance to chat to some of the musicians at:

The Pitcher and Piano, Holly Street, Sheffield S1 4AW 53.38056367688149, -1.4731170529256716


Programme saturday, 18 June 2022,

Programme notes learning to swing

Louis Prima / Benny Goodman - Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing)

In late 1937, Wynn Nathanson, who was then Benny Goodman’s publicist, suggested that the Goodman Band should play Carnegie Hall. It was a bold idea. No band leader had ever played in the iconic building that had seen the likes of Tchaikovsky, Dvorák, Mahler and Bartók on its stage. Goodman had his reservations. Although the concert went ahead on 16th January 1938 and was sold-out weeks in advance, the audience were initially polite, but tepid. The orchestra presented a history of jazz from early ragtime to their latest pieces, which included One O’Clock Jump and Sometimes I’m Happy . By the time the band played its final number, Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing) , the audience were convinced, and the performance

became one to define Carnegie Hall anew.

Sing, Sing, Sing was, perhaps surprisingly, not an original piece, even though it went on to become Goodman’s trademark. The song, complete with entertaining lyrics (”Sing, sing, sing, sing / Everybody start to sing / La-dee-da, ho, ho, ho / Now you’re singing with a swing”) was an original composition by Louis Prima (the voice behind King Louie in Disney’s The Jungle Book ), who recorded it in 1936 with the New Orleans Gang. Goodman’s version, arranged by Jimmy Mundy, incorporated the song Christopher Columbus , which appears as a trombone bass line part way through. Fats Waller had popularised the piece as a novelty in 1936 and The Ink Spots later recorded it.

By contemporary accounts, the version heard in Carnegie Hall in 1938 was the result of a gradual evolution. During 1936 the band were touring and, “no night was complete without Sing, Sing, Sing ”. One night, the drummer Gene Krupa refused to stop drumming at the end of the third chorus, where the tune was supposed to end, and so Benny grabbed his clarinet and started to improvise over the top; someone else then took it and it went from there. Likely, the elements of Christopher Columbus became incorporated in this way.

In 1982, Goodman’s 1937 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

4 NOTES baroque period
Four Seasons
Handel Messiah baroque period 1750
Sea Clock classical period 1700
Benny Goodman
1723 Vivaldi
1702 Anne
Tom Jones 1736

1760 George III

Programme notes from big band to symphony

Rescoring a swing standard to make it playable by a modern symphony orchestra is not an easy challenge. To begin with, the harmony and rhythms have to be identified by ear since only Goodman’s recordings survivethe band played without sheet music and the piece evolved over several years to the version so familiar to us today. Further, swing rhythms are subtle and difficult to reproduce. Symphonic musicians are usually not experienced in

playing jazz and tend to be strongly connected to the printed page (indeed, British orchestral musicians are among the best sight-readers in the world), so the idea of deviating in even the smallest way from the written word is anathema. And finally, our orchestra has 75 musicians, for the most part stringed instruments, which simply didn’t feature in a swing band of the 1930s! What you will hear tonight, therefore, lends the piece new colour, new texture, and an altogether more robust, symphonic weight.

First the drums: Goodman’s band had one drummer, in this performance we use four. An introduction featuring growling trumpets and a punchy bass line leads us into the main theme played, in this case, by the strings accompanied by a “ride” cymbal. Benny’s famous clarinet solo is presented as close to his improvisation as possible, complete with slides and vibrato and accompanied by a plucked, walking bass. A drumming interlude follows, and then the trombones, bass clarinet, bassoons and cellos introduce Christopher Columbus for the first time.

The texture builds: trumpets howl and glide and the woodwinds play a bluesy riff in repetition. Another drumming interlude follows, these get gradually more complex and interesting, and then the horns introduce a new theme. This is soon taken up by the trumpets and eventually a combination of everything together involving the whole orchestra. Benny’s second solo, a sinuous triple feeling across the strong bass drum beat, which gradually attracts the other winds and the trombones who groan underneath. And then everyone is in again and the winds jump and dance over the top of percussive brass parts. A quick reprise of the second theme (in the major key with whooping horns) and we’re headed to the end, which comes all of a sudden after a falling bass line in the tuba, and the drums are snapped off in the final, curt, exclamation!

1764 Spinning Jenny

1788 Mozart Symphony 40




Benny Goodman and his orchestra
Declaration of Independence classical period
Beethoven Symphony 5 romantic period


Programme notes ”when my

ship comes in...”

Kurt Weill - Symphonic Nocturne from “The Lady in the Dark”

When George Gershwin died suddenly at 38 of an aggressive brain tumour, the other half of one of the great creative partnerships of the early twentieth century, his brother Ira, retired. After three years, and recognising that he had more to do, he teamed up with various composers, including Jerome Kern ( Cover Girl) , Harold Arlen ( A Star is Born ) and Kurt Weill. Weill had fled Germany in 1933. The Nazi authorities had vilified him due to his popularity as a Jewish composer. He and his wife, Lotte Lenya, lived briefly in Paris and London before settling, in 1935, in New York.

The Lady in the Dark (1941), their first collaboration, is notable for its strong female

protagonist (Liza Elliott), and unusual subject matter which, through a series of dream sequences, examines her subconscious as she undergoes psychoanalysis for chronic professional and personal indecision. The first production ran for in excess of 450 performances and starred Gertrude Lawrence, Victor Mature and Danny Kaye, whose showstopping performance of “Tchaikovsky (and Other Russians)”, a patter song in which he reels off fifty Russian composers in 39 seconds, made him an instant star. A film version starring Ginger Rodgers (loosely based on the stage production) was produced in 1944.

Weill was a chameleon as a composer, but generally his voice can be heard across the genres of his output. “Mack the Knife” from the Threepenny Opera is instantly recognisable as his, just as much as the middle movement of his Symphony No. 2, for example. In the Symphonic Nocturne however, which was orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett in 1949, one can also hear the strong influence of the lyricist. Possibly the rhythm and syntax of Gershwin’s lyrics made certain musical choices inevitable for Weill, or perhaps he was consciously, or even subconsciously, assuming elements of George Gershwin’s musical language. Either way, the resulting score teems with echoes of the earlier collaboration. Weill and Gershwin produced something fresh, original and new in subject, and yet strikingly familiar.






1846 Saxophone

1855 Colour

1859 Origin

Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya (1942) classical period romantic period romantic period Photography Beethoven Symphony 9
of the Species
Pride and Prejudice


Programme notes ”Jenny made her mind up...”

Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement of Weill’s music into an orchestral piece is not a narrative retelling of the musical, but rather the main themes evolving one to the other. This is much like the overture to a musical , where the composer sets out the most important tunes of the night, and therefore maximises their impact and potential for success when they are finally heard. Broadly speaking, there are three dream sequences: a glamour dream, where Liza imagines her glamorous self without her usually plain clothes and featuring songs such as “Girl of the Moment” and the strut of a Bolero rhythm; a wedding dream, where she imagines herself marrying one of the suitors vying for her attention; and then a circus dream, which inexplicably becomes a court room and a trial for the crimes of indecision!

The Symphonic Nocturne begins in the mists with the most important theme of the piece, “My Ship”, heard in the unusual, slightly Stravinsky-like combination of low flute and extremely high, soft bassoon. This theme is heard frequently and represents Liza’s psychology: her indecision, but also something illusory in her life that she cannot quite grasp. When finally, towards the end of the musical, the snatch of melody that has haunted her is given the lyrics she could never remember, her indecision evaporates, and her future is clear. After the opening mist, Weill illustrates the beginning of a dream in textures reminiscent of Ravel, or even Britten: celesta, feathery strings and falling harp glissandi pulling us into sleep. The dream is plush and ripe - a glamorous version of “My Ship”. In quick succession we hear “The Girl of the Moment” interrupted again by “My Ship” played with passion by the cellos, the familiar rhythms of a Bolero, and then another lush, romantic orchestration of the tune “This is New”. Wedding bells sound, a further Bolero, and suddenly we are at the circus. Piccolo and Tuba illustrate the scene in music reminiscent of American marching bands. Suddenly, the tumblers enter the circus ring: here is Weill’s own very distinct voice. An acceleration, and the dream turns to a nightmare of farce: Liza is on trial. The brass instruments introduce “The Saga of Jenny” with a mocking strut of a theme. Liza tries to explain why her alter-ego can never make her mind up and why it was always disastrous when she did: “Jenny made her mind up when she was three / She herself was going to trim the Christmas tree / Christmas Eve she lit the candles tossed the taper away / Little Jenny was an orphan on Christmas Day...” A simple oboe melody represents Jenny’s good intentions and bawdy brass the mocking chorus interjections, “Poor Jenny, bright as a penny / her equal would be hard to find...” Eventually, the music brightens and finds the major key. We’re reminded of “My Ship”, and then the brass mock no more and join the throng of the finale.


1900 romantic period 20th century
Wagner Tristan and Isolde
1902 Mahler Symphony 5 1893 Tchaikovsky Symphony 6
1871 Middlemarch
1884 Fountain Pen
Pirates of Penzance 1904 Xray
1898 Joplin Maple Leaf

George Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue and I Got Rhythm Variations

The American Rhapsody , as it was initially called, was dashed off in a hurry to a commission Gershwin only discovered he was meant to fulfil when his brother Ira spotted the announcement in the newspaper. The band leader, Paul Whiteman, ever the opportunist, eventually twisted Gershwin’s arm by promising that all he had to do was supply a piano score; his in-house arranger, Ferde Grofé would do the rest. Not the most auspicious of starts for one of the most important pieces of crossover music ever written. Indeed, even the famous sliding clarinet at the work’s opening was never intended as we hear it now - but was rather a joke made during rehearsals by Ross Gorman, Whiteman’s principal clarinet. Gershwin so liked it that he begged him to keep it in the performance. During his short career, Gershwin would finetune the concept of a “jazz concerto” through further works, including the grand Concerto in F , a Second Rhapsody and eventually the Variations on “I Got Rhythm” . This last piece is particularly sophisticated in its construction, orchestration and reference to other idioms, and demonstrates the huge progress he had made as a composer.

The Rhapsody in Blue finally gained its proper name on the suggestion of Ira Gershwin. Inspired by Whistler’s painting Nocturne in Black and Gold he suggested the title as a way of fusing the American and European roots of the music. Aside from the rushed and accidental evolution of the Rhapsody , the white-hot pace of its composition necessitated a certain amount of improvisation. Gershwin had not committed all of the piano part to paper on performance and so it is likely that the completed version of the solo evolved over several performances. That such a seminal work should be indefinite and rushed in its composition ought to preclude its importance, but as is often the case with inspiration when it strikes, it captured the zeitgeist of the era and, regardless of the flaws in its structure, seems always to feel like it is a creation of the moment of performance. This is surely the essence of jazz.

century George V 1910 romantic period WWI 1914/18 1924 RHAPSODY IN BLUE
Stravinsky The Rite
Ives Unanswered Question 1917 Anthem for Doomed Youth Traffic Lights 1920
Walton Facade FM Radio 1933 Lady Chatterley 1928
Varese Ameriques
Programme notes an American rhapsody
George Gershwin by Hirshfeld (1973)

Following the bright, bluesy opening for the orchestra, the piano enters with caution. The ensemble encourages the soloist to be energetic and excited, but the piano declines and continues to trot along sedately, finding its way. The extended monologue explores the various themes and gradually warms up until the orchestra, again insisting on energy, convinces the soloist to join in. What follows is seen by some as a flaw in the piece: that the piano solo rarely plays with orchestral accompaniment but instead interrupts and ruminates on the subjects introduced by the ensemble. This was always a likely outcome given that Gershwin was only requested to produce a piano score and Grofé would supply orchestrations. However, it could be seen as a strength of the structure; the piano much more free to explore the themes than the orchestra and therefore feeding the ideas back.

Eventually, we arrive at the central theme of the piece, a broad melody in E major which is instantly memorable and one of the few moments of complete ensemble. Following another extended solo, the Rhapsody gains pace again and it is clear that we are heading for the finish. All the themes reappear, the broad melody and the opening strut in variations of themselves. The brass instruments feature more, and with greater power, and the piano and ensemble grow together in agreement. The piece ends as it began, in Bb Major, with confidence and in unity.

The Variations on I “Got Rhythm” are a short set of variations based on his hit song from Girl Crazy . He was to tour again as the soloist and decided to offer something new for the Reisman Orchestra. The theme is not instantly recognisable during the introduction, but once again the clarinet leads the way, naturally in tight rhythm! The form is much more assured than the Rhapsody and through a series of episodes, each with their own character, Gershwin explores his theme. Broadly speaking, we hear the theme eventually played with energy by the piano alone, followed by an atonal / serial variation toying wittily with the theories of harmony promoted by Schönberg, Berg and Webern in Vienna. A waltz variation with sighing strings follows, and a variation replete with Chinoiserie, including complex parts for the percussion instruments. At last the theme adopts the feeling of a relaxed nightclub dance band with gentle swing and bluesy hints. Finally, the tail end of the piece plays with the theme in various keys and rhythmic combinations, recalling earlier elements and drawing it together for a brisk, lively finish.

variations NOTES 9 WWII 1939/45 The Hobbit 1937 1936 SING, SING, SING Elizabeth II 1952 1941 THE LADY IN THE DARK 1934 I GOT RHYTHM 1948 Atomic Clock 1943 Britten Serenade Nineteen Eighty Four 1949 1956 Video Tape 1958 Lord of the Flies 1955 Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 Ballpoint Pen 1939 20th century
Programme notes

Programme notes a great american symphony

William Grant Still - Symphony No. 1 in Ab, “Afro-American”

Although it is the piece for which, if you’ve ever heard of William Grant Still, he is most famous, it is still only one in what was a hugely prodigious career of 200 published works. These included five symphonies, four ballets, nine operas, over thirty choral works, plus art songs, chamber music, and works for solo instruments. Like Gershwin, Still’s first major composition came to define him, but unlike the Rhapsody in Blue, the first symphony took time to complete and was carefully considered.

Still was a highly educated man. Initially at university to study medicine he dropped out

and went to study music and composition with, amongst others, Edgar Varèse, who was something of an enfant terrible at the time in America, and George Chadwick. Both composers of some reputation, Still received instruction at the extremes of modern music: Chadwick, from the generation before Charles Ives whose compositions were conservative and influenced by late 19th Century European music, and Varèse who was at the forefront of the exploration of the avant-garde and who wrote, for example, the first piece of classical music for untuned percussion. The result, when Still finally found his own voice, was a rigorous technique, original and striking orchestration, but with an ear for European late romantic music.

Still’s upbringing and first steps as a musician profoundly influenced the direction he would take as a composer following his studies. Born to two school teachers, his father, who was a local bandleader, died during his son’s infancy. His stepfather, whom his mother married some six years later, nurtured Still’s interest in music and took him to operetta performances, as well as buying early Red Seal recordings of classical music. The boy’s grandmother added to his diverse interests by singing him African-American spirituals.

Following university, private study with Varese and Chadwick, and service in the US Navy during WWI, Still moved to Harlem where he performed in pit orchestras for musicals with the likes of Paul Whiteman (of the first performance of Rhapsody in Blue) Artie Shaw and James P Johnson, the Harlem Stride pianist whose piece Yamekraw Still later orchestrated. All this activity led to his association with the “Harlem Renaissance” and performers like Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, as well as those in complementary disciplines like dance, art, fashion, literature, theatre, politics and scholarship.

Still’s first symphony, the Afro-American is a kind of distillation of his musical experience up to that date, and it became a benchmark for crossover music,

William Grant Still
Programme notes “...and truth shall lift them...”

Each movement of Still’s symphony bears a short subtitle and an epigraph from poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, who wrote in a colloquial dialect. The symphony begins with a solo English horn in its higher register. This most classical of instruments sets out Still’s intention to bind idioms together - he could equally have given such a solo to an instrument familiar to jazz, like the trumpet, but instead the English horn sets the stage with a twelve-bar blues. The orchestra creeps in section by section in a kind of seductive strut. The horns have a railroad “choo-choo”, the winds a comic, bird-like chirp, and eventually the trumpet and clarinet, “authentic” jazz instruments, take up the English horn’s melody. A short interlude, strictly speaking a second subject in a contrasting key, brings a sweet oboe melody, and then the original theme is back in a bracing, energetic dance. The violins adopt the oboe’s melody and extend it, and then the strut returns, the trumpets in trio playing the main theme quietly through Harmon (or “wha-wha”) mutes. The movement, entitled “Longing” gently winds down.

The second and third movements, “Sorrow” and “Humour”, further explore the harmony established during the first. The Adagio moves slowly in long, lyrical lines, whilst the Scherzo is its antithesis: a lively orchestral dance based on a theme from a planned opera ( Rashana ), which Still never completed. The tune has the subtitle “Hallelujah”, and this word clearly fits the melody. A keen ear can detect the horns playing what sounds like “I Got Rhythm” as an accompaniment. This too appears in a notebook by the composer from 1924, albeit in a slower tempo,. Frequent reappearances show something of an obsession with the important intervals of the melody. Still never laid claim to the theme, but it’s entirely possible that Gershwin heard Still improvise it, playing, as he did, in Whiteman’s band.

The final movement, Rashana , which means “Aspiration”, is based on a spiritual melody. It is first played by the strings in unison accompanied by clarinets, trombones, and a tuba, which Still indicates should sound “organ-like”. The principal theme from the first movement then reappears, played gently by the flute and oboe. The slight rise in tempo continues and an angst-ridden interlude of falling harmony over a marching bassline eventually gives way to a return of the spiritual theme, this time played warmly by the cellos. Suddenly, the orchestra is lively in music reminiscent of the dancing third movement. A kind of scherzo evolves, which seems to use the same falling harmony from earlier, laid over the “Hallelujah” theme from the previous movement. The fast rhythm becomes firmly established and begins to repeat itself, eventually becoming the accompaniment for the brass instruments, which prominently restate the spiritual theme moving slowly and majestically underneath. The symphony ends in blazing affirmation with Still quoting Dunbar: “Be proud, my Race, in mind and soul / Thy name is writ on Glory's scroll / In characters of fire. High 'mid the clouds of Fame's bright sky, / Thy banner's blazoned folds now fly, / And truth shall lift them higher.”


Brigantes beginners jazz is about being free

If you don’t know much about classical music, coming to a concert can be intimidating. If that’s you, you’re not alone. This section, along with the timeline in the programme, gives essential information about the pieces, composers, and their historical and social context to help you understand what’s going on!

The origins of jazz belong to Afro-Americans and are rooted in the slave trade. In the 1700 and 1800s, slaves sought places to dance and make their own music, preserving and celebrating their culture. As evangelical Christianity spread, church hymns were also incorporated into their spiritual songs.

Slavery was abolished in the 1860s, and free black Americans were able to work, although within racist limits. Many became musicians, and ragtime developed. Its greatest proponent was Scott Joplin, the composer of The Maple Leaf Rag . His contribution to the birth of jazz was enormous. In 1893, Joplin travelled to the World Fair in Chicago to play. Ragtime became a world craze, further aided in 1895 by the first publications of Ragtime sheet music.

In 1904, Joplin married Freddie, but she tragically died ten weeks later. His waltz, Bethena , is one of his most enchanting pieces and was dedicated to her memory. Joplin was passionate about incorporating his music into European classical forms. A national tour of his first opera, A Guest of Honor , backfired: one of the company ran off with the box office takings, and Joplin could not pay the salaries or boarding fees. His score and belongings were confiscated, and the opera was lost. He subsequently moved to New York and began work on his second opera, Treemonisha , whose radical message was that Afro American advancement was best achieved through education, women’s rights, and hard work. It is thought the lead character was based on Freddie. Unable to find a producer, Joplin financed the publication of a vocal and piano version, but he couldn’t get funding for a full production. Bankrupt and tired, he increasingly began to show signs of a neurological condition that affected his motor abilities and, therefore, his piano playing. Dementia began to emerge. Nevertheless, he continued to push boundaries: Magnetic Rag was published in 1914. It had a unique structure and incorporated a minor key, giving it a melancholic feeling that perhaps reflected his feelings about his failing health. Joplin died in 1917 and fell into obscurity. He only remerged in 1970 when Joshua Rifkin produced an excellent album of his rags. Treemonisha was finally staged in its complete form in 1972, and, in 1973, the film ‘The Sting’ included The Entertainer in its soundtrack. You can still occasionally hear Joplin’s influence in popular culture: who knew that the introductory piano solo in the song “You Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story was pure ragtime?

Scott Joplin

Brigantes beginners jazz is about being free

Whilst ragtime had strict rules, these were relaxed by the 1920s and “swing” became King! America was enjoying the freedom that came with the end of World War I. Architecture was opulent, like the art deco Chrysler Building. In Broadway, musical theatre had broken free from opera and comic operettas, like The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan. Silly, goofy dances like the Charleston were born, and Americans partied in illicit speakeasies because of prohibition - the ban on the sale of alcohol between 1920 and 1931. This time is painted in glorious technicolour in F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby . Jazz allowed people to be free and have fun!

During this time, efforts to incorporate jazz into classical music continued. Enter George Gershwin. Gershwin was born in New York in 1898, the son of Jewish Russian Immigrants. He began writing songs in his teens, but his foray into classical music was accidental. The big band leader, Paul Whiteman, commissioned Gershwin to write a piano concerto, a request that was turned down. Not to be deterred, Whiteman announced to the press that George had agreed, and Gershwin’s hands were tied. Rhapsody in Blue was premiered in 1924. Shortly afterwards, Gershwin moved to Paris to seek lessons in composing. His requests were turned down by many composers, with Ravel stating, "Why become a second-rate Ravel when you're already a first-rate Gershwin?". He continued to write music for the theatre and concert hall, becoming fabulously wealthy. His 1930 musical Girl Crazy contained the song I Got Rhythm , which was reworked in 1934 into the Variations for Piano and Orchestra you will hear tonight. The origin of the tune is controversial because it appears in William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony, which was also published in 1930. Gershwin died in 1937 from an aggressive brain tumour, aged 38.

Swing and dance bands grew in popularity in the 1930s: listen to Duke Ellington’s It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing) , Glenn Miller’s In the Mood , and Benny Goodman’s Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing) . In 1941, Kurt Weill premiered his musical The Lady in the Dark , the lyrics of which were written by George Gershwin’s brother, Ira. Its music forms the Symphonic Nocturne in this concert.

The joy and freedom of jazz were curtailed by World War II. Swing lost its radicality and popularity. Jazz evolved into “bebop” in the 1940s. Some of the greatest jazz names were associated with this era: Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk. Improvisation became one of the essential aspects of jazz. There was a brief revival of swing in the 1950s but, by the end of the decade, Free Jazz had arrived. This threw away the whole rulebook! Jazz became more intellectual and elitist, as was the case with classical music in the 20th century, and it moved far from its humble roots. Instead, the rebelliousness and freedom of the 1950s was associated with the more accessible “rock and roll”. The rule breakers moved onto “psychedelic pop” in the 1960s, “punk ”in the 1970s, “rap” in the 1980s, and “hip-hop” in the 1990s.


Brigantes beginners jazz is about being free

Although some of the music you will hear tonight is nearly 100 years old, it is important to remember it has revolutionary origins. Do not dismiss its cheerfulness as fluff: jazz was born from slavery and oppression. It represents defiance, identity, and freedom.

Listen again

Kurt Weill

Symphonic Nocturne Berlin Philharmonic

Kiril Petrenko Digital Concert Hall

George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue Wayne Marshall Aalborg Symphony Virgin Classics

If you like that, you’ll like this...

Scott Joplin

Bethena, Maple Leaf & Magnetic Rags

Joshua Rifkin Nonesuch Records

Delve deeper

Scott Joplin

Treemonisha Paragon Ragtime Orch. Rick Benjamin Paragon Records

George Gershwin

An American in Paris San Fransisco Symph.

Michael Tilson-Thomas RCA Records

Kurt Weill

The Lady in the Dark National Theatre Cast Recording Jay Records

William Grant Still Symphony No. 1 Detroit Symphony

Neeme Järvi Chandos Records

Leonard Bernstein

Symphonic Dances from West-Side Story

CBSO Parvo Järvi Erato

Igor Stravinsky A Soldier’s Tale (Ragtime)

Isabelle Faust et al Harmonia Mundi


Musicians performing




Jennifer Dyson

Leila Marshal

Sally Minter

Matthew Jones

Josh Hall

Mana Shibata

Emily Wilson

Adam Slater

Ben Pinto









Marianne Rawles

Beth Duncan

Jonathan Jones

Simon Twigge

Mary Fair

Catherine Hewitt

Tim Page

Mark Harrison

Jim Davies

Gordon Truman

Chris Gomersall

Nick Hudson

Garrath Beckwith

Josh Allen

Imogen Garnet

David Dekker

John Watterson

Aidan Marsden

Peter Matthews

David Hartland


David Milsom

Richard Smith

Anne Whittaker

Holly-Rayne Bennett

Joanne Walton

Rebecca Howell

Emily Blayney

Nadia Ivkovs

Louise Carey

Charlotte Beresford

Alistair Kennedy

Callum Sherriff


Bianca Blezard

Amanda Gillham

Dora Chatzigeorgiou

Clare Pitchford

Mollie Wrafter

Rosie Nicholson

Kate Jones

Karen Eveson

Sarah Razlin

Lizzie Dawson

Virginia Slater

Helen Parkes

Hazel Parkes

Mirka Hoppari

Jonathan Kightley

Ann-Marie Shaw

Joy Bower

Graham Gillham

Gemma Wareham

Tom Pickles

Adrianne Wininsky

Jonny Ingall

John Parsons

Tim Smedley

Chris Nolan

Rihanna Wade

Pietro Lusvardi

Marcelo Rodrigues

Matthew Clarkson

Aron Jonasson

Matthew Barks

Sophie Sully


Next Concerts New Season 2022 to 2023

Saturday, 15 October 2022 | 7.30pm | Sheffield Cathedral Remembrance

MacMillan Larghetto (2009 orch. 2017)

Finzi Clarinet Concerto

Vaughan Williams A Pastoral Symphony

Emma Johnson, clarinet

Laurie Ashworth, soprano

Quentin Clare, conductor

Saturday, 17 December 2022 | 4.00pm | Sheffield Cathedral Winter Warmer

Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker Respighi Adoration of the Magi and a dusting of ancient carols

Quentin Clare, conductor

Saturday, 04 March 2023 | 7.30pm | Sheffield Cathedral

Symphonic Landscapes

Fenby Rossini on Ilkla Moor

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

Sibelius Symphony No. 2 in D

Lisa Jacobs, violin

Quentin Clare, conductor

Saturday, 25 March 2023 | 4.00pm | Sheffield Cathedral Façade

Walton / Sitwell Façade Entertainment

Sarah Helsby Hughes, reciter

Zeb Soanes, reciter

Quentin Clare, conductor


Next Concert New Season 2022 to 2023

Saturday, 10 June 2023 | 7.30pm | Sheffield Cathedral Fin de siècle

Suk Scherzo Fantastique

Debussy Trois Nocturnes

Elgar Variations on an original theme, “Enigma”

Quentin Clare, conductor

Season Tickets for 2022 to 2023

This year we are introducing a season ticket for the first time which will save you 20%! Bookings for all our concerts can be made through

The final ticket price now absorbs the Ticketsource platform fees, so you will not see any additional costs when you book (this also means that tickets are the same price booked in advance as when you buy on the door).

Remembrance / Symphonic Landscapes / Fin de Si è cle

Standard Tickets £22.00

Disabled or Unemployed £12.00

Aged 17 to 23 £5.00

Aged 16 and under FREE

Winter Warmer / Fa ç ade

Standard Tickets £17.50

Disabled or Unemployed £12.00

Aged 17 to 23 £5.00

Aged 16 and under FREE

Season Tickets (including all of the above for a saving of 20%)

Standard Ticket £80.00

Disable or Unemployed £48.00


Christopher Devine piano

Based in Vienna, Austria, Christopher Devine (1982) is a composer, conductor and pianist, and was born and raised in the Netherlands from a German mother and a Scottish father. He studied in Amsterdam, The Hague and Vienna with Marcel Baudet, Jan Wijn and Stefan Vladar (piano), Theo Loevendie (composition) and Georg Mark (conducting). His musical development was further enriched by regular masterclasses with Leslie Howard, Janina Fialkowska, Elisso Virsaladze and Maria João Pires.

As a pianist, Christopher Devine has been active worldwide for over two decades. He is a winner of several international competitions, which helped him earn performances in prominent halls like the Concertgebouw, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, Carnegie Hall in New York, Rakhmaninov Hall in Moscow, and the Musikverein in Vienna. He has played as a soloist with orchestras, including the Residentie Orchestra (The Hague Philharmonic), The Orchestra of Gelderland and l´Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès in Spain. During 2008 Christopher became a member of the Gustav Mahler Piano Quartet.

Recently, his growing discography has come to include the complete works for piano solo by Debussy, which Gramophone Magazine described as ‘full of subtle thoughts, finely etched and very polished’.

Christopher is married to pianist Mehrdokht Manavi, and they have two daughters together.

Christopher Devine

Quentin Clare conductor

The British conductor Quentin Clare made his professional debut at the age of just 25 when he conducted the Hallé Orchestra in the prestigious Bridgewater Hall Manchester. Since then, he has worked with many orchestras in the UK including the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Opera North and Ensemble 11, as well as having performances broadcast on British and European television and radio.

Quentin’s international career has seen him conduct orchestras in Europe such as the Danish National Symphony, Dutch Radio Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra of Nancy and the Nürnburg, Würzburg, Hagen and Bochum Symphony Orchestras. He is equally experienced in the opera house working in France, The Netherlands and in Germany on productions including Stravinsky's The Rake’s Progress , Britten’s A Midsummer Night's Dream and in particular the French premiere of Robert Carsen’s acclaimed production of Richard III by Giorgio Battistelli.

Much in demand as an inspirational conductor of young musicians, he has worked at the conservatories in Ghent, Birmingham, Durham, Den Haag, Tilburg and Weimar, as well as holding posts with the university orchestras of Nijmegen and Leiden. Quentin has been principal guest conductor with Young Sinfonia in Newcastle and is music director of The New Mannheim Orchestra, and Pulcinella. He directed with great success the 2014 tour of the National Student Chamber Orchestra of the Netherlands (NESKO) and the 2015 tour of the National Student Symphony Orchestra of the Netherlands (NSO), and in doing so became the first British conductor to work with both of these ensembles.

Quentin Clare photograph by Eduardus Lee

The Brigantes Orchestra about us

The Brigantes (Bri-gan-tez) were a collection of Celtic tribes ruled by Queen Cartimandua in 1st-Century Northern England, populating what is now Yorkshire. Literally meaning “high ones”, Brigantes could refer to nobility or to highlanders living on the Pennines or in Hillforts. The Brigantes were tribal and cultured, enjoying theatre and music.

The name Brigantes was chosen for a new orchestra because it encapsulates location, culture and unity: the idea that an ensemble is, roughly speaking, a tribe of musicians.

The Brigantes Orchestra was formed in Sheffield in 2019 in response to the observation that Sheffield did not have a professional symphony orchestra of its own, despite a wealth

of local talent. The Brigantes aim to bring high quality orchestral music to the city and surrounding areas as well as to engage new audiences who would not otherwise visit the classical concert hall, and this includes a growing population of young musicians in Sheffield’s schools

About the Kurt Weill Foundation

The Kurt Weill Foundation, Inc. promotes and perpetuates the legacies of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya by encouraging an appreciation of Weill’s music through support of performances, recordings, and scholarship, and by fostering an understanding of Weill’s and Lenya’s lives and work within diverse cultural contexts. It administers the Weill-Lenya Research Center, a Grant and Collaborative Performance Initiative Program, the Lotte Lenya Competition, the Kurt Weill / Julius Rudel Conducting Fellowship, the Kurt Weill Prize for scholarship in music theater, and publishes the Kurt Weill Edition and the Kurt Weill Newsletter. Building upon the legacies of both Weill and Lenya, the Foundation nurtures talent, particularly in the creation, performance, and study of musical theater in its various manifestations and media. Since 2012, the Kurt Weill Foundation has administered the musical and literary estate of composer Marc Blitzstein.

This concert has been generously supported by Neuronatal Ltd

This performance is funded in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc., New York, NY
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