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Derek Bermel's 'The Migration Series' is centerpiece for 14th annual American Music Festival

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The Albany Symphony and Music Director David Alan Miller are proud to announce the fourteenth annual American Music Festival, a celebration of great new music by living American composers. This is the culminating event of the AlbanySymphony season, and showcases more than 20 new and recent works, including 18 world premieres. The live music experience will take place from May 14, 2015 to May 16, 2015 at EMPAC, located at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

The centerpiece of the 2015 festival is Derek Bermel's "The Migration Series" for 16-member jazz band embedded in a full symphony orchestra. The work was created for and premiered by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. When Bermel was a child, his mother took him to view the 60 paintings of "The Migration Series" by the seminal Harlem Renaissance painter Jacob Lawrence, which Lawrence had created in 1941 at the age of 23. The series is a portrayal of the Great Migration, when millions of African-Americans moved from the rural South to the North after World War I. When the series was shown in 1943, it was the first exhibition by a major New York gallery devoted entirely to the works of an African-American artist, and brought Lawrence major national recognition. Thirty paintings were purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the other 30 by The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. For the first time in over 20 years, The Museum of Modern Art is currently displaying all 60 images of the collection in a major exhibition that opened on April 1st. Maestro Miller said, "This year's American Music Festival will be a powerful exploration of the theme of migration. We are excited and fortunate to be able to share Derek Bermel's extraordinary piece, which tells a powerful story about art through music, with our community. Like Lawrence's powerful paintings, it tells the story of the African-American experience in the mid-twentieth century through a searing, beautiful, life-affirming exploration of classic jazz music. It is like nothing else you've ever heard. We are so proud to be partnering with the brilliant young musicians of the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra and their inspired director, James Burton. The other works on our Festival Orchestra Concert also explore aspects of migration, most notably our Andrew W. Mellon Mentor Composer Michael Daugherty's Flute Concerto, 'Trail of Tears,' about the forced migration of the Cherokee Nation during Andrew Jackson's presidency." The Albany Symphony is very proud to be recording both Bermel's and Daugherty's works during the festival for future release on the NAXOS and Albany Records labels.  READ THE FULL BroadwayWorld ARTICLE

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