“Every day is an experience. Every day is an adventure.”
“Pay attention to anybody and everybody, and you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.”
Ever since pioneer jazz French-horn player David Amram mentioned that he’ll be doing an urban hike, pointing out places of importance to him on the Upper West Side, I’ve been counting down the days.
I usually associate David with Greenwich Village. Whenever I see him play at Cornelia Street Cafe or (le) poisson rouge, he always tells enthralling stories of how we’re only steps away from where he and Jack Kerouac did their first jazz-poetry readings or how he used to go into the music store down the street and learn how to play instruments from around the world. It’s that curiosity, though, along with talent and tenacity that allow him to transcend any particular place or “movement” or style. Uptown, he worked, for instance, with The New York Philharmonic’s conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos; in 1966, Leonard Bernstein selected him to be The New York Philharmonic’s first composer-in-residence.
Now, the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center has acquired David Amram’s archive and is hosting David Amram’s New York, a series of free events, which includes a screening of a documentary about him and the urban hike. Here’s the info via the New York Public Library:
Composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and author David Amram is a musician with a celebrated career as prolific as it is diverse. While his achievements and influences extend far beyond the city, New York has played a vital role in Amram’s life and music. Specific locations throughout New York have served as inspiration for Amram’s compositions, and his pioneering work with Leonard Bernstein and The New York Philharmonic, Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan, Joseph Papp, Jack Kerouac, Dizzy Gillespie, Pete Seeger, and many other jazz, folk, and world music artists has helped shape the city’s cultural landscape. To celebrate the recent acquisition of Amram’s archives, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center will present David Amram’s New York, a series of public programs and offerings that explore his remarkable career and ongoing relationship with the music of New York.
The series begins on Saturday, April 26 with a screening of the documentary feature film David Amram: The First 80 Years, followed by a conversation between the filmmaker Lawrence Kraman and Amram. Later that afternoon, Amram will lead a walking tour of Manhattan locations that have played a significant role in his life and music. The walk will be co-hosted by author Bill Morgan and sociologist Dr. Audrey Sprenger of SUNY Purchase.
On Tuesday, April 29, the series concludes with a special concert of Amram’s chamber music compositions, featuring a program that spans Amram’s career and musical influences. Nora Guthrie, daughter of Woody Guthrie, will also be in attendance to celebrate her commissioning Amram to compose THIS LAND: Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie. Performers for the concert include Howard Wall and Kim Laskowski, both members of The New York Philharmonic, former Metropolitan Opera concertmaster Elmira Darvarova, and saxophonist Ken Radnofsky. The evening will also mark the release of two new albums of Amram compositions: The Chamber Music of David Amram – Live from the New York Chamber Music Festival (Urlicht AudioVisual), featuring Darvarova; and Newport Classic Records’ album of Radnofsky performing Amram’s compositions for saxophone, including the concerto Ode to Lord Buckley and Trio for Tenor Saxophone, French Horn and Bassoon.
In conjunction with the programs, The Library for the Performing Arts will exhibit original materials from Amram’s archives.
One of the most influential and prolific composers of his generation, David Amram has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works, two operas, and scores for the award-winning films Splendor in The Grass, The Manchurian Candidate, and Jack Kerouac’s Pull My Daisy–all while balancing a career as a pioneering jazz improviser, symphony conductor, and multi-instrumentalist featuring 35 instruments from around the world, all of which remain a source of inspiration for many of his formally composed classical works. Amram was a vital force in the Beat Generation, and presented the first-ever public jazz-poetry concerts in New York City in the 1950s with Kerouac. Amram was the first Musical Director and composer for Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, for the Phoenix Theater, and for The Lincoln Center Repertory Theater, where he composed scores for new plays by Arthur Miller directed by Elia Kazan and Harold Clurman. In 1966, Leonard Bernstein named Amram The New York Philharmonic’s first Composer-In-Residence. Five years later, Amram became the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s first Musical Director for Young People’s, Family and Free Parks Concerts, a position he held for nearly three decades.
Today, Amram continues to compose music while traveling the world as a conductor, soloist, bandleader, author, visiting scholar, and narrator in five languages. In addition to the David Amram’s New York programs at The Library for the Performing Arts, Amram’s other projects this spring include the release of THIS LAND: Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie (Newport Classic Recordings), a live recording of Amram conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in a performance of his work by the same name, and the DVD release of David Amram: the First 80 Years in May. Amram’s fourth book, David Amram: The Next 80 Years, will be published in 2015.
All events included in the David Amram’s New York series take place at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (40 Lincoln Center Plaza), and are free and open to the public.
David Amram’s New York
Saturday, April 26 @ 1pm
Film Screening: David Amram: The First 80 Years
Post-Screening Conversation with Lawrence Kraman and David Amram In Person
Lawrence Kraman’s 2012 documentary about the life and times of David Amram features interviews and performances with Buck Henry, Pete Seeger, Sir James Galway, Kurt Elling, Paquito d’Rivera, Max Gail, Larry Merchant, Candido Camero, Bobby Sanabria, John Ventimiglia, Philip Myers, Maurice Peress and the Queens College Orchestra, David Broza, Avram Pengas, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, the Earl McKintyre Orchestra, and David Amram and his three children Alana, Adira and Adam. This compelling film not only explores Amram’s unique career and the breadth of his talents, but as the title implies, also proves that one of the most exciting aspects of Amram’s story is knowing that with his endless energy and zest for life, his narrative is far from over, and the future chapters are sure to be just as exciting as the past.
Saturday April 26 @ 3pm
Walking Tour With David Amram
Meet in the lobby outside of The Bruno Walter Auditorium, located at the Library’s 111 Amsterdam Avenue entrance
David Amram leads this walking tour of Lincoln Center and other nearby locations that have influenced his life and music. The tour will be co-hosted by Bill Morgan and Dr. Audrey Sprenger.
Tuesday, April 29 @ 6pm
Chamber Music Compositions of David Amram: from 1958 – 2014
Over the course of his career, David Amram has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works. For this concert, he selects four of his favorite chamber works:
Trio for Tenor Saxophone, French Horn and Bassoon (1958)
Ken Radnofsky – Saxophone
Howard Wall – French Horn
Kim Laskowski – Bassoon
Violin Sonata (1960)
Elmira Darvarova – Violin
Linda Hall – Piano
Blues for Monk for Unaccompanied Horn (1982)
Howard Wall – French Horn
Three Greenwich Village Portraits (2014)
For Alto Saxophone and Piano
Ken Radnofsky – Alto Saxophone
Damien Francoeur-Krzyzek – Piano
About The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the world’s most extensive combination of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts — whether professional or amateur — the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters and photographs. For more information please visit www.nypl.org.
Don’t live in New York? Check out David Amram’s extensive calendar to see when he’ll next be in your neighborhood.
- David Amram on Contributing Our Gifts
- Blues.Gr’s Tribute to David Amram
- A video of when I read with David Amram at Cornelia Street Cafe
- Photos from when David Amram led us all in Jamming Jack at a local bar in Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell
- Amram at First Blues to celebrate an Allen Ginsberg recording
An Evening of David Amram’s Chamber Musicand Readings From Jack Kerouac’s On The Road with musicFriday, September 7, 8:00 pm
Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre2537 Broadway @ 95th
A tribute concert to celebrate the chamber music of composer David Amramas a part of the New York Chamber Music Festival
On Friday September 7 at 8 pm, the acclaimed New York Piano Quartet, internationally renowned flutist Carol Wincenc, violinist and former MET Orchestra concert master Elmira Darvarova, eminent cellist Wendy Sutter, New York Philharmonichornist Howard Wall, Metropolitan Opera principal percussionist Greg Zuber, actor John Ventimiglia (of the The Sopranos), famed pianists Tomoko Kanamaru and Hsin-Chiao Liao, talented young musicians from the award-winning ensemble Face the Music with artistic director Jenny Undercofler, the much talked about David Amram Quartet and multi-instrumentalist David Amram himself, will gather at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Symphony Space to celebrate the chamber music of one of the most significant American composers of all times — the indefatigable David Amram, as part of the 2012 New York Chamber Music Festival.This celebration of David Amram’s chamber music includes a wide variety of the composer’s works which represent his prolific career spanning many decades. Works include the 1960 Violin Sonata, the 1979 piano quartet Portraits, the 1977 Native American Portraits, the 1982 Blues and Variations for Monk, the 1993 Theme and Variations on Red River Valley, the Andante movement from the Concerto for Flute Giants of the Night (commissioned and premiered in 2002 by Sir James Galway), its chamber music version presented at this concert by flutist Carol Wincenc in its New York premiere, and the very recently written 2012 Cancion de Verano (Summer Song), also performed in its New York premiere, by the acclaimed young musicians ensemble Face The Music. Several of these works are inspired by David Amram’s legendary collaboration with Jack Kerouac, whose iconic work On the Road has its own presence at the September 7 concert, with 5 readings, performed by actor John Ventimiglia (of The Sopranos) and David Amram’s daughter Adira Amram.ProgramViolin Sonata (1960)Elmira Darvarova (violin) and Tomoko Kanamaru (piano)Theme and Variations on Red River Valley (1993)Carol Wincenc (flute) with the members of the Face the Music ensembleAndante from Giants of the Night* (2002)Carol Wincenc, flute and Hsin-Chiao Liao (piano)*New York premiere of the chamber versionPortraits (1979)Members of the New York Piano Quartet with Wendy Sutter (guest cellist)IntermissionCancion de Verano (Summer Song)* (2012)Members of the Face the Music ensemble*New York premiereBlues and Variations for Monk (1982)Howard Wall (horn)5 Readings from “On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac (2011)John Ventimiglia and Adira Amram with the David Amram QuartetNative American Portraits (1977)Elmira Darvarova (violin), Greg Zuber (percussion), David Amram (percussion), Tomoko Kanamaru (piano)*Tickets: $20 in advance (Symphony Space Members, Students, Seniors $15; Day of Performance $25) at symphonyspace.org or call their Box Office at 212-864-5400
David Amram has conducted more than seventy-five of the world’s great orchestras, composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber works, written two operas and, early in his career, wrote and conducted many scores for theater and films, including Splendor in the Grass and The Manchurian Candidate. Since being appointed by Leonard Bernstein as the first composer in residence with the New York Philharmonic in 1966, he has become one of the most acclaimed composers of his generation, listed by BMI as one of the 20 Most Performed Composers of Concert Music in the United States since 1974. The Boston Globe has hailed him, “The Renaissance Man of American Music.”For twenty-nine seasons, Amram was the Music Director, Conductor and Narrator of Young People’s, Family and Free Summer Parks concerts for the Brooklyn Philharmonic at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; and for seventeen seasons, Amram was the Musical Director and Conductor of the International Jewish Arts Festival, conducting members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In addition to conducting, he has also performed with symphony orchestras as a soloist on instruments from all over the world, combining jazz, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Native American and folk music alongside the European classics.Today, Amram continues to perform as a guest conductor and soloist while continuing a remarkable pace of composing. Recently acclaimed new works include Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie; Three Songs: A Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; and Giants of the Night, a flute concerto commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway. A Little Rebellion: Thomas Jefferson, a piece for narrator and orchestra, was premiered at the Kennedy Center with Amram conducting; and Kokopeli, A Symphony in Three Movements, had its world premiere with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, also with Amram conducting.A pioneer player of jazz French horn, he is also a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from 25 countries, as well as an inventive, funny improvisational lyricist. He has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Jack Kerouac, Leopold Stokowski, Langston Hughes, Dustin Hoffman, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Eugene Ormandy, Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan, Alan Ginsberg, Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Paddy Chayevsky, Johnny Depp, Archibald MacLeish, Pete Seeger, Tito Puente and Joseph Papp.A documentary feature film, David Amram: The First 80 Years, is currently being shown at major music and film festivals throughout the United States and internationally. Directed by Lawrence Kraman, the film includes the New York premier of his Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie and highlights of his comic opera 12th Night. Amram is also featured in Andrew Zuckerman’s book and new feature film documentary Wisdom: The Greatest Gift One Generation Can Give To Another, as one of the world’s 50 Elder Thinkers and Doers; and his instructional video, Origins of Symphonic Instruments, released by Educational Video, is shown in over 6,000 schools throughout the United States and Canada.On Sept 7th, 2012, the 4th Annual New York Chamber Music Festival presents an entire evening of Amram’s chamber music compositions at Symphony Space in Manhattan; and on September 21st and 22nd, Amram conducts the Colorado Symphony in Denver for a program which will include a live recording of his Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie.For further information of Amram’s activities, access his webpage.
September 3, 2012. 8:30pm. Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia St.). New York, NY. Stephanie will be reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as David Amram plays, just like the first jazz-poetry readings Amram and Kerouac did in 1957. Amram & Co. includes David Amram, Kevin Twigg, John de Witt, and Adam Amram. $10 cover, plus $10 minimum.