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Klezmer Company Orchestra, Conducted by Aaron Kula, to Present ‘Spirit of America: American Masters of Song and Dance,’ at FAU

Concert Will Feature Florida Premiere of Works by Ellington and Miller

BOCA RATON, FL (June 9, 2011) - The 60-piece Klezmer Company Orchestra (KCO), conducted by Maestro Aaron Kula, and joined by vocalists Daniel Cochran and Lisanne Lyons, will present “Spirit of America: American Masters of Song and Dance,” on Sunday, June 26, at 3 p.m. at Florida Atlantic University’s Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium, on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road.

The musical extravaganza will feature classic American music that blends jazz and folk songs written between 1932-1945 by such composers as Aaron Copland, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Glenn Miller.

KCO, FAU Libraries’ professional ensemble-in-residence, will open the concert with “Cuban Overture,” a rich and exciting piece dominated by Caribbean rhythms and Cuban native percussions that was written by composer George Gershwin after a 1932 vacation to Havana.

The award-winning ensemble will present two Florida premieres during the concert: “Black, Brown and Beige,” a jazz symphony written by Ellington for his first concert at Carnegie Hall in January 1943, and “Candy,” a classic ballad written by Miller, who presumably died in a plane crash in 1944. “Black, Brown and Beige,” Ellington’s longest and most ambitious composition, illustrates black history from the continent of Africa to contributions of blacks in World War II. The piece represented the highest profile example of Ellington’s lifelong efforts to advance the politics of race through music, lifestyle and image, but rarely words.

“The music exploits lush string melodies, syncopated rhythms, jazz harmonies and virtuoso playing from the entire orchestra, and I am very excited about conducting this work for the first time in my career,’’ said Kula, KCO’s conductor and FAU Libraries’ director of music collections and performance.

Cochran, a West Palm Beach native and versatile tenor who is a core member of the Ebony Chorale of the Palm Beaches, and who has appeared with the Palm Beach Opera and Pops, will sing “Candy,” as well as “There Goes That Song Again,” another unpublished Miller song. Both songs aired on the radio in 1945 but were never published in any format, according to the Glenn Miller Birthplace Society in Clarinda, Iowa. Boynton Beach resident Martin Winner, whose sister worked for Johnny Desmond, a member of The Glenn Miller Army Air Forces Band at a New York agency during the 1940s, gifted the manuscripts to FAU Libraries in 2008.

“Premiering the music of legendary composers Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and this is a big deal for the library, the musicians and the audience,” said Kula.

Lisanne Lyons, an accomplished jazz singer, recording artist and professor of vocal jazz studies at the University of Miami, will sing Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” and “Take the A Train.”

KCO will also perform such favorites as Copland’s Pulitzer prize-winning “Appalachian Spring,” “Every Time I Feel the Spirit,” a traditional Negro spiritual and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”

This is the sixth consecutive year FAU Libraries have sponsored a concert in celebration of the Marvin and Sybil Weiner Spirit of America Collection, which was donated to the library in 2006 by the Weiners of Boca Raton. The collection contains more than 13,000 printed items from the American Revolutionary era and other imprints, mostly American, British and French.

WXEL and the University Club at FAU Foundation provide additional support.

Since Kula founded KCO in 1997, the ensemble has taken music in the library’s collections “from shelf to stage.” He is credited with composing and orchestrating more than 200 works for KCO, which hit a milestone in 2009 when its independently produced CD “Beyond the Tribes,” won “Best Klezmer Album” and “Best Klezmer Song” from Just Plain Folks, the world’s largest independent music organization.

Concert tickets are $17-$38. Call 800-564-9539 or visit Early reservations are recommended. For information on KCO, visit


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. In commemoration of its origin, FAU is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2011. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit

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