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Grammy-nominated US pianist with NZSM musicians in concert tonight

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Five-time Grammy nominated American pianist Shelly Berg joins the Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand School of Music – Te Koki (NZSM) Big Band and Orchestra to present An American in Wellington at the Michael Fowler Centre on Thursday.

Soloist Shelly Berg is a Steinway piano artist, arranger, orchestrator and producer, and has been called one of the finest jazz pianists of the 21st century.

Louisa Williamson, a saxophone player with the Big Band says it will be inspiring to perform alongside him. “I’m looking forward to being around someone who obviously has such an amazing work ethic and passion for what he does.”

The NZSM Big Band and Orchestra don’t traditionally perform together. You’ll usually find the Big Band raising the roof at places like the Bristol Hostel and The Rogue & Vagabond, and the Orchestra performing symphonies at St Andrews on the Terrace. But for this special concert they’re coming together to perform music by Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Debussy and Bernstein, with some of it arranged by Shelly Berg himself.

The two ensembles performing together is a good challenge, Louisa says, as they have to be careful with volume. “We can play a lot louder than them. It’s a little tricky as we can’t hear them as well as they project out the front, so it’s a good exercise for us in keeping our ears open!”

Fellow student Patrick Hayes, who plays violin in the Orchestra, says that he’s looking forward to playing with the Big Band as “they have incredible energy”. He’s also excited about the eclectic mix of various works in different styles, and loves how passionate everyone is about the music.

Louisa agrees. “The nostalgia factor will especially be high. I’m excited about this concert because it’s going to bring generations together through a mutual love of the music.”

An American in Wellington – Big Band meets Orchestra
Thursday 9 August, 7:30pm
Michael Fowler Centre
Soloist – Shelly Berg (piano)
Conductors – Kenneth Young, Rodger Fox

Tickets start from just $5

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