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Beads and Brass: Side Street Strutters Transform RPO Into "N'Awlins" Jazz Orchestra

January 17, 2008

City to Proclaim Gibbs Street as Bourbon Street

Rochester, NY – For a few days next month, the sound and spirit of Mardi Gras will infuse the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as the Side Street Strutters jazz band swings into town for New Orleans jazz-style concerts on Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2, at 8 p.m. at the Eastman Theatre.  In Mardi Gras mode, the City of Rochester literally is proclaiming Gibbs Street as Bourbon Street from January 29 to February 6.

The seven-member Side Street Strutters (clarinet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, piano and drums, all overseen by a master of ceremonies) perform arrangements of works by such greats as Duke Ellington, W.C. Handy and Hoagy Carmichael as well as traditional New Orleans tunes including Basin Street Blues, Sweet Georgia Brown, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, Tiger Rag, Bill Bailey, Dixie Medley and It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing.  With his delightfully wry sense of humor, guest conductor Michael Krajewski leads the Strutters with the RPO in an invigorating, bead-swinging evening.

In 1983, the Side Street Strutters formed to play music centered around the traditions of early New Orleans jazz.  Two decades later, the Strutters perform music ranging from Big Band Swing to popular standards.  Concertizing throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the Strutters have earned national and international acclaim, including NEA-awarded fellowships and grants, and appearances at dozens of European and U.S. jazz festivals, all in addition to their regular performances at California’s Disneyland.

Michael Krajewski is a favorite among pops conductors for his imaginative and entertaining programs.  Principal Pops Conductor of the Houston Symphony and the Jacksonville Symphony, he has served in that position with the New Mexico Symphony and the Long Beach Symphony, and has performed alongside Judy Collins, Doc Severinsen, and Ben E. King, among others.  He frequently guest conducts orchestral Pops performances with the Strutters.

These RPO Mardi Gras concerts will be a highlight of February’s “First Friday” experience. “First Friday” is a collaboration between non-profit, university, and commercial art venues in Rochester. First Friday helps ensure a healthy art scene and a healthy city by encouraging regular exchange and discussion among venues, artists and patrons.

Tickets for these performances are $20-$57, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  The RPO has extended its PAETEC Philharmonic Partners Program discounts to this concert, offering $5 tickets to local college students. The WPOP Series is sponsored by Wegmans; this concert is sponsored by Time Warner Cable.

Celebrating its 85th season in 2007-08, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.  RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County and the City of Rochester. 

Note: Photos are available of Michael Krajewski and the Side Street Strutters

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