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Lush Life: Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn

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Lush Life: Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn

Thursday, February 8, 2024—10: 45am & 8:00pm

Thursday, February 8, 2024—10: 45am & 8:00pm
Orchestra Hall
2 hours
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Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, musical companions for nearly 30 years, wrote some of the most beloved jazz standards of all time—"Take the A Train," "Satin Doll," "Caravan," an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, and more. Hear their works and experience their prolific collaborative genius live at Orchestra Hall.

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Artists

Na'Zir McFadden

conductor

American conductor Na’Zir McFadden is the Assistant Conductor and Phillip & Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, under the guidance of Music Director Jader Bignamini.

McFadden also serves as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. Together, they’ll present three programs — exploring masterworks by Tchaikovsky, Valerie Coleman, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Margaret Bonds respectively.

Establishing his presence on the classical music scene, the 2023-24 season includes debuts with the North Carolina Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, and a return to the Philadelphia Ballet, in addition to maintaining several ongoing engagements with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He’ll also serve as a guest cover conductor for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

In the 2022-23 season, he made his subscription debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, alongside bass-baritone Devóne Tines and clarinetist Anthony McGill. In March of 2024, he will conduct the DSO’s Classical Roots program, premiering two new works by composers Billy Childs and Shelly Washington.

Other career highlights have included debuts with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Ballet. Additionally, McFadden led a recording project with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago — featuring Hilary Hahn as co-collaborator and soloist.

This past summer, McFadden participated in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Conducting Seminar as part of the Tanglewood Institute, under the guidance of Andris Nelsons and Stefan Asbury.

In 2021, McFadden was named the inaugural Apprentice Conductor of the Philadelphia Ballet; a position he held until 2022. He also served as the Robert L. Poster Conducting Apprentice of the New York Youth Symphony from 2020 to 2021.

At the age of 16, Na’Zir conducted his hometown orchestra – The Philadelphia Orchestra – in their “Pop-Up” series, meeting their Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who has been a mentor ever since. The Philadelphia Inquirer praised his “great stick [baton] technique and energetic presence on the podium” in their concert review.

An advocate for arts education, McFadden strives to provide access to the arts for students in underserved communities. Currently, McFadden is a board member of Generation Music, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that provides classical music education to underrepresented youth in local school districts that can not afford to do so. His efforts have led to collaborations with youth ensembles in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Salt Lake City.

Denzal Sinclaire

vocalist

Denzal Sinclaire is one of Canada’s most popular jazz vocalists and is ranked among the finest jazz singers of his generation. A graduate of McGill University’s Jazz Performance program (Montreal, Canada), he possesses that rare ability to achieve, from the moment he steps on stage, a profound emotional interaction with his audience. His passionate and sincere delivery caresses every song he sings. He touches the listener with the purity of the message.

Sinclaire is a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy Award) nominee, a recipient of the 2004 National Jazz Award for “Best Album,” four-time consecutive recipient of Jazz Report Magazine Award for Male Jazz Vocalist, and 2007 Choc Jazzman Award (France). His admirers include Grammy Award-winning artists, Diana Krall (“Denzal Sinclaire embodies the tradition of the great singers I love like Nat Cole, yet definitely has his own voice. He is one of my favorite singers...”), Wynton Marsalis and the JALC Orchestra, Dianne Reeves, Michael Feinstein, and Michael Bublé, as well as growing legions of jazz fans in his native Canada and abroad.

He has graced the stages of numerous concert halls and festivals around the world and has appeared on several popular TV shows, including Canada’s Bravo!TV, Canada AM, Nashville Now, and Ireland’s The Late Late Show. As a former member of  soul artist, Jamie Lidell’s (Warp Records) band, he has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Jimmie Kimmel Live!, and Manu Katché’s show One Shot Not (France).

Equally at home in the theatre, film and television arenas, Sinclaire has delighted audiences with his critically-acclaimed performance in Unforgettable, a musical based on the life and music of Nat King Cole; Tapestry: The Music of Carole King (Arts Club Theatre); and William Saroyan’s award-winning The Time of Your Life (Soul Pepper Theatre Company). His TV and film credits include appearances in the new Battlestar Gallactica TV Series (dir. Michael Rymer); and Being Julia, starring Annette Bening and Jeremy Irons (dir. István Szabó).

A pivotal role in Sinclaire’s career was the collaboration with highly sought-after guitarist/composer/arranger Bill Coon whom he befriended in Montreal. Over the course of 15 years they performed to rave reviews in a variety of musical settings ranging from duo to symphony orchestras, as well as several live radio, televison, and studio recordings for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and SRC (Société Radio-Canada). In 1994, they recorded an album of duets, and in 1996, recorded the very first in-studio concert for Canada’s BRAVO!TV with a unique ten-piece ensemble.

Sinclaire has performed with renowned artists such as Wynton Marsalis and the JALC Orchestra, Patrice Rushin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Janis Siegal, Dee Daniels, Kevin Mahagony, Michael Feinstein, Marilyn Mae, Bob Mintzer, Jimmy Heath, Barry Harris, The Count Basie Orchestra, Dame Cleo Laine, Sir John Dankworth, Jamie Lidell, Holly Cole, Vince Giardano & The Nighthawks, The David Berger Jazz Orchestra, and the WDR Big Band (Cologne, Germany).

The list of artists he has supported includes Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, Kurt Elling, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Anita Baker, Four Tops, Holly Cole, Bill Charlap, Katie Melhua, and Jane Monheit.

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