For the well-being of audience members and musicians alike, we have made the difficult decision to postpone our 2021 season. But we are excited to report that all the groups planned for this winter are being rescheduled for 2022. In the meantime, for 2021, we are working with musicians to develop a special series of remote programs for music teachers in local schools.
2020 Season Retrospective: “Akropolis Reed Quintet”
The second concert of the Blue Hill Concert Association 2020 season was held on February 9 and featured the Akropolis Reed Quintet, five virtuoso woodwind players — an oboist, a clarinetist, a saxophonist, a bassoonist, and a bass clarinetist. Their playing was imaginative, playful, and rousing. One of their pieces even included some audience participation!
The quintet’s program included four contemporary works, including two pieces commissioned by and composed for them. The first of these, Jeff Scott’s “Homage to Paradise Valley,” takes inspiration from an historic Detroit neighborhood. You may listen again (or for the first time!) to the fourth and final movement of the piece below. It is entitled “Paradise Theater Jump.” Akropolis’ own notes supply this context for the movement:
Orchestra Hall, where the Detroit Symphony Orchestra now performs, closed in 1939 but reopened in 1941 as the Paradise Theater. For ten years it would then offer the best of African-American musicians from around the country. Duke Ellington opened Christmas week with his big band, admission was 50 cents, and patrons could stay all day. There were three shows every day and four on weekends. “B” movies were shown between acts. During the glory days of jazz, the Paradise Theater saw Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Billie Holiday, and many more. Paradise Theater Jump is dedicated to this famed theater and harkens to the up- tempo style of “jump blues.”