Sunday, April 5, 2009

First Recordings of James P. Johnson's 'De Organizer' & 'The Dreamy Kid'

[Victory Stride: The Symphonic Music of James P. Johnson; The Concordia Orchestra; Marin Alsop, Conductor; Music Masters 67140 (1994)]

“KENNETH KIESLER has been Director of Orchestras and Professor of Conducting at the University of Michigan since 1995. As Music Director of the Grammy Award winning University Symphony Orchestra, he has conducted many premieres, major choral-orchestral works, and operas. He just led the orchestra’s highly successful tour, ending with an acclaimed performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in Carnegie Hall. The current catalogue includes 10 acclaimed CDs Kiesler has recorded with such groups as the BBC Singers and Orchestra (London), Third Angle New Music Ensemble (Portland, OR), and the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra.”

He has led premieres by Steven Stucky, Gunther Schuller, Leslie Bassett, James P. Johnson, Aharon Harlap, Gabriela Lena Frank, Steve Rush, Robert Sirota, Evan Chambers, and Paul Brantley. At the age of 19, he unearthed and conducted the first performance since 1925 of Gershwin’s original jazz-band score of Rhapsody in Blue. With the University Symphony Orchestra, he led the U.S. premiere of Mendelssohn’s Third Piano Concerto, world premiere of James P. Johnson’s The Dreamy Kid and the first performance since 1940 of Johnson’s blues opera, De Organizer. Kiesler’s premiere recordings of the Johnson works are soon to be released.” [James Price Johnson (1894-1955) is profiled at]

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