Wednesday, February 4, 2015 San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Plays Joplin's 'Ragtime,' 'Duke Ellington Medley' & Still's Symphony No. 1 at 7:30 PM Sat. February 7, 2015

William Grant Still (1895-1978)

Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)

Duke Ellington (1899-1974) 
Frank Fetta
(Paul Alvarez, File Photo)

William Grant Still (1895-1978), Duke Ellington (1899-1974) and Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917) are profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List for William Grant Still and 
Scott Joplin by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

The Press-Enterprise
Riverside, California
Feb. 3, 2015

SAN BERNARDINO: Orchestra to give jazz the symphonic treatment Saturday

San Bernardino Symphony to present “Musical Genius in America” on Saturday with works from Joplin, Ellington.


For San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Conductor Frank Fetta, one through-line connects all the composers featured for the group’s concert on Saturday night: the immense influence of African-American music on the American music scene of the early to mid 20th century.
Jazz is what links the works from Scott Joplin through George Gershwin, Fetta said.
"Joplin started letting a quality of music emerge from the native sensibility, and it shows up in the works of all of them,” Fetta said in a recent interview.
The concert at the California Theatre for the Performing Arts in San Bernardino will feature Joplin's "Ragtime," Duke Ellington's "Duke Ellington Medley," William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1, also known as the Afro-American Symphony, and "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin in the program titled "Musical Genius in America."
Fetta has a strong connection with the Still symphony. He received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1976, shortly before the composer died, to organize a festival around Still’s music and as a result, Fetta became close to the family.


"Still always had lots of work, including writing four symphonies," said Fetta, describing the Symphony No 1, composed in 1930, as a four-movement, easy-to-listen-to work, as "very stylish, sort of modern, sorta not, with folk in it - it can get rhythmic and wild."
The Joplin work, scored for full orchestra, is very formalized, said Fetta. "Listen to it - it's very square music, yet jazzy as if the jazz is wanting to break out of the orderliness."
According to Fetta, Ellington wrote a lot of symphonic music, but this work is mostly his jazz tunes arranged for full orchestra. "I'd really like to do more of his symphonic works eventually," Fetta said.

Comments by email:

1) Hi, Bill, Thank you so much for this--we seem to be getting a lot of great performances in California.  It's very good.  [Judith Anne Still]

2) Conductor Frank Fetta is behind the baton of the San Bernardino Symphony, Culver City Symphony, Marina Del Rey Symphony and maybe other orchestras. My best recollection over the past 15 or 20 years is Frank Fetta is the leading conductor of orchestral music by composers of African descent in Southern California. I even recall Frank as pianist for a stirring one woman production on the life of Marian Anderson.  Thanks,  John Malveaux

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