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Symphony breaks new ground with Big Band Bash

By Rebecca Rider
rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Symphony is bringing new life to its Big Band Bash.

“We are getting really high caliber talent involved that haven’t been involved in anything we’ve done before,” Symphony Executive Director James Harvey said.

The annual fundraiser is now in its 16th year, and focuses on jazz and blues instead of classical.

“So it’s kind of taking it out of the standard box,” Harvey said.

Headliners for the jazzy Jan. 6 event include local performers Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, Teresa Moore-Mitchell, Alexis Greer and Rebecca Stinson.

Cohen is internationally recognized as one of the leading blues interpreters of her day and performs regularly across the globe at music festivals in Europe, South America and the United States. Moore-Mitchell has an esteemed career in classical music, having performed with world-class ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic and Opera Carolina. Greer, who works with the Rowan-Salisbury School System, moonlights as a jazz soloist and has received high praise for her performances, which include roles with Piedmont Players. Stinson, has performed locally with numerous organizations including appearances with Chickweed, the Salisbury Community Choir, Livingstone College and at special events at the V.A.

“This is a diverse group of performers that are coming together for the big band bash,” Harvey said.

But the event represents more than just a night of swinging tunes and good food. For Harvey, it represents yet another rung in the symphony’s climb to cater to all music tastes.

“Everybody does enjoy music to one degree or another,” Harvey said.

But when people begin to break it down into categories they also form misconceptions of people who enjoy a specific genre. The symphony’s new focus is to begin to erase those prejudices and to change the stereotyped role of a symphony. Because, as Harvey says, “music is music is music.

“We present music and we champion music. …It’s music in the broadest sense. …It’s really just kind of presenting all kinds of flavors for musical genres,” he said.

And while the symphony has always been a part of the Big Band Bash, bringing in “high-caliber” talent like Cohen is a deviation from the norm.

“We’re actually putting our words into practice,” Harvey said.

And for those who love jazz and blues, the bash is an event to remember. It’s more than just a concert — the night also features a dance floor, wine from the Salisbury Wine Shop and food catered by B&B Catering.

This year’s fundraiser celebrates the music of Pearl Bailey and Ella Fitzgerald and is themed “First Ladies of Swing.” This year’s bash is given by Charles & Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim in honor of Bert Oestreicher.

“It’s a chance to really spotlight non-classical music,” Harvey said.

The bash begins Jan. 6, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in Hedrick Theatre on Catawba’s campus. Immediately following the concert, guests will be treated to a seated meal in the Crystal Lounge, an open bar and a night of music by the Salisbury Symphony and featured soloists.

“It’s a great night out,” Harvey said. “It’s a real experience.”

Ticket sales are open until Dec. 22. Benefactors receive special listing in the program and a table for eight for $1,200; Sponsors receive special listing in the program and a half-table for four for $600; Contributors receive special listing in the program and receive two tickets for $300; single tickets are available for $125. Please visit www.salisburysymphony.org or call 704-216-1513 to book.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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