MUSC 2120: The Jazz Orchestra and Orchestral Approaches to Jazz featuring guest speaker Jon Jang

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

4:15pm - 5:30pm

Composer and pianist Jon Jang joins Professor Anthony Cheung as a guest speaker for Cheung’s course, MUSC 2120 The Jazz Orchestra and Orchestral Approaches to Jazz. The virtual talk is free and open to the public. Please write to Professor Cheung directly, if you would like to attend.

Guest Speaker Series

Jon Jang’s visit is part of a series of MUSC 2120 The Jazz Orchestra and Orchestral Approaches to Jazz guest talks this semester. Click here to view all upcoming MUSC 2120 talks in the series.

About Jon Jang

Pianist and composer Jon Jang became the first American-born Chinese to compose a symphonic work that honors Chinese-American history. Commissioned by the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra and Oakland East Bay Symphony, Jon Jang composed The Chinese American Symphony which pays tribute to the Chinese laborers who built the first transcontinental railroad in United States. Jang has also been commissioned by Cal Performances, the Walker Art Center, Kronos Quartet and Chanticleer to compose new works. The New York Times described Jang’s music: “Like the ‘Third Stream’ composers of the 50’s who married jazz and classical music.” Pianist Jang has toured and recorded with Max Roach and James Newton. His ensembles have toured at major concert halls in Europe, China, Canada, United States and South Africa. In 2012, Jon Jang was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr.-Cesar Chavez-Rosa Parks Visiting Professor recognition at the University of Michigan. Jang began piano study at age 19. After two years of study, Jang was accepted as a Piano Performance major at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and received his B.Mus. degree in three years.

About MUSC 2120 The Jazz Orchestra and Orchestral Approaches to Jazz

MUSC 2120 Instructor: Anthony Cheung

This course offers several views of what it means to write for the “jazz orchestra.” As the history of jazz tends to prioritize the contributions of individuals and small groups, what does it mean for composers who have ambitions that extend beyond typical expectations of instrumental forces, duration, and form? We will focus on specific examples that have challenged conventions and redefined idioms. From the innovations in orchestration and scale of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the classic Gil Evans/Miles Davis albums, to the “progressive” experiments of Stan Kenton (and later Don Ellis), to the intergalactic theater of the Sun Ra Arkestra, to works for full symphony orchestra, we will examine complex issues of tradition, community, and race that have accompanied these collaborations, and the compatibility (or not) of musical challenges regarding improvisation, notation, and pedagogy.

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