Media Roundup for Jazz Seminar and Concert, Feldman Symposium and Mini-festival, and Sweeney Todd

Music at Pitt is starting November off in a big way and local media have taken notice. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published previews of the Jazz Seminar and Concert and Sweeney Todd, while the City Paper conducted extensive interviews with Jan and Amy Williams in anticipation of the Morton Feldman Symposium and Mini-Festival.

The Post-Gazette focuses its preview of the Jazz Seminar and Concert on pianist and Department of Music alumnae Geri Allen.

“During the past four decades, hundreds of world-class musicians have participated in the University of Pittsburgh's annual Jazz Seminar, which kicks off today and culminates in a Saturday concert at Carnegie Music Hall.

But even among them, pianist Geri Allen holds a special distinction: She's a Pitt alumna who earned a master's degree in ethnomusicology, with an emphasis on African-American music and jazz, in 1982.

The Detroit native attended Howard University as an undergraduate and was attracted to jazz because ‘it was a music that is uplifting,’ she says. "It really celebrates the freedom of the human spirit -- food for the soul."

In the P-G’s preview of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, director Lisa Jackson-Schebetta highlights the contributions of Pitt’s Symphony Orchestra and music director Roger Zahab.

“The production will sound unusually lush -- the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will draw resonance from Mr. Sondheim's brooding score.

It's one of the reasons this take on "Todd" is blood-free. Merely a bit of light serves to literally illuminate the carnage.

‘The 30-piece orchestra does a lot of work for you,’ the director said, noting that in one key scene, the violent death of one character is backed by a crescendo: ‘I don't know why anyone would need to add to that.’”

The Pittsburgh City Paper features extensive interviews with Jan Williams and Amy Williams about the upcoming Morton Feldman Symposium and Mini-Festival.

"While growing up in Buffalo, Amy Williams was introduced to musicians and composers on a regular basis. Her percussionist father, Jan Williams, was a faculty member at the University of Buffalo's music school, so concerts in the Williams living room and musical dinner guests were fairly typical occurrences as well.

But it wasn't until years later that she really understood the prominence of one of her dad's university colleagues. Known to the family as "Morty," this big bear of a man would sit at the dinner table, cigarette dangling from his lips, telling stories — many on the racy side — in a thick New York accent. ‘He always seemed a little out of place in Buffalo, even back then,’ she says."

We're glad to see that the rest of the community is as excited about what's happening at the Department of Music as we are! Find out more about the Jazz Seminar and Concert, Sweeney Todd, the Morton Feldman Symposium and Mini-Festival, and enjoy as much of it as you can.