The Music of Benny Goodman, as performed by the Ortner-Roberts Trio, will be featured in a special concert at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House on Friday at 8 p.m.
Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America in the 1930s. His Jan. 16, 1938, concert at New York's Carnegie Hall is described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history - jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music." Seventy years later, his music still makes your head spin, your feet move and your spirits rise ... and never more so than when performed by the remarkable Ortner-Roberts Trio.
The Ortner-Roberts Trio features Tom Roberts on piano, Susanne Ortner-Roberts on Clarinet and Tom Elrick on drums. The three are respected and internationally acclaimed musicians in their own right; but when they come together, wonderful things happen!
Tom Roberts is one of the leading exponents of early jazz piano in the world today. He has performed on "The Tonight Show" and "A Prairie Home Companion" with Leon Redbone. Roberts arranged and performed the music, with Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks, for the soundtrack of Martin Scorcese's film "The Aviator." He also has arranged music for the syndicated PRI show "Riverwalk Jazz, Live from the Landing with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band," and for Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He also was the featured pianist at the International Stride Piano Summit in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2001 and 2009.
Roberts lived in New Orleans between 1989 and 1994, and while there performed in all the major jazz clubs and on the riverboats. He was a frequent performer in the Jazz and Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival. He has been featured multiple times with Dick Hyman in the prestigious Jazz in July series at New York's 92nd St. Y and has performed twice at New York's Carnegie Hall. He continues to tour nationwide and perform with bands from New Orleans and New York, including the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble. In addition to his piano artistry, Rogers is a recognized music historian. As such, he has contributed to articles for the magazine Piano Today and is a frequent guest on National Public Radio.
His wife, German clarinetist Susanne Ortner-Roberts, is internationally acclaimed as a soloist and as a member of the German Klezmer Quartet, Sing Your Soul. The German newspaper Augsburger Aligemeine calls her a "musician par excellence, capable of moving you deeply." Ortner-Roberts is a graduate of the Leopold Mozart Conservancy, and the University of Augsburg. She previously taught German literature, language and music. Following an invitation by the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, she has been accompanying Pittsurgh area Holocaust survivors at schools and universities, creating the musical framework for their stories.
Ortner-Roberts is a serious researcher of Eastern European music, and offers Klezmer workshops, master classes and lectures. She also teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University, has instructed the Klezmer band at the Agency for Jewish Learning, and assists the Carpathian Ensemble at the University of Pittsburgh. Ortner-Roberts arranged and composed music for many theatrical productions, including the acclaimed "Mazel" by Amy Hartman, as well as several book and film projects. She is the subject of the recent book Living the Dream - F?r die Musik nach Amerika, written by German Television journalist Helge Fuhst.
Joining Tom & Susanne will be drummer Tom Elrick. Elrick has been performing with various bands and musicians since the mid-1980s and is a familiar fixture on the Pittsburgh music scene.
The Music of Benny Goodman performance is sponsored by June and Barry Dietrich. Tickets to the performance are $15 ($13 for Opera House members) and may be purchased in person at the Opera House Box Office or by phone at 679-1891, Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. They also may be purchased online any time at www.fredopera.org. Opera House media partners are WDOE-AM and Kix Country 96-FM radio.
Chautauqua County's only performing arts center presenting its own programming year-round, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. A complete schedule of events is available at www.fredopera.org.