On July 1, 2019, in the spirit of Independence Day, Wynton Marsalis’ third symphony, Swing Symphony—a musical manifesto on American ideals and the melding of jazz and classical —will be released on all digital platforms by Blue Engine Records, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s in-house record label. Swing Symphony will be available for pre-order on Friday, June 7.
The release captures the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis joining forces with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Robertson in performances of Swing Symphony in front of the sold-out crowds at Powell Hall in St. Louis on May 4─6, 2018.
In 2010, Swing Symphony was commissioned jointly by the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Since then, the work—hailed as “brave, even heroic” by the New Republic—has been performed around the globe by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and some of the world’s most renowned symphonic orchestras.
Combining two seemingly opposite musical poles—classical music and jazz—into a swinging whole is what inspired Marsalis to put pen to paper. In seven movements, Swing Symphony traces the quintessentially American journey of jazz from New Orleans ragtime to Kansas City swing and New York bebop.
Swing Symphony is the third symphonic work by Marsalis, who in 1997 became the first jazz composer awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for Blood on the Fields. He wrote Swing Symphony in the spirit of American optimism. What makes it American? “My belief in the freedom of other people who are not like me,” he says. Through its evocations of music rooted in America, Marsalis says the symphony declares, “We don’t have to segregate ourselves from who we are. We are Winslow Homer. We are Walt Whitman. We are William Faulkner. We are George Gershwin. We are Duke Ellington. We are Mary Lou Williams. We are Louis Armstrong. All we have to do is embrace that.”
About Blue Engine Records
Blue Engine Records, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s platform that makes its vast archive of recorded concerts available to jazz audiences everywhere, launched on June 30, 2015. Blue Engine Records releases new studio and live recordings as well as archival recordings from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s performance history that date back to 1987 and are part of the R. Theodore Ammon Archives and Music Library. Since the institution’s founding in 1987, each year’s programming is conceived and developed by Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis with a vision toward building a comprehensive library of iconic and wide-ranging compositions that, taken together, make up a canon of music. These archives include accurate, complete charts for the compositions – both old and new – performed each season. Coupled with consistently well-executed and recorded music performed by Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, this archive has grown to include thousands of songs from hundreds of concert dates. The launch of Blue Engine is aligned with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s efforts to cultivate existing jazz fans worldwide and turn new audiences on to jazz.
About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Celebrated as one of today’s most exciting and enduring orchestras, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, marking its 139th year with the 2018/2019 season and Music Director Designate Stéphane Denève. Widely considered one of the world’s finest, the SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community connections – all in service to its mission of enriching lives through the power of music.
In addition to its regular concert performances at Powell Hall, which has been the permanent home of the SLSO for more than 50 years, the orchestra is an integral part of the diverse and vibrant St. Louis community, presenting free education programs and performances throughout the region each year. It presents St. Louis Symphony Live at the Pulitzer, a four-program series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. The SLSO also serves as the resident orchestra for Opera Theatre Saint Louis, with this season marking the 42nd year of their partnership.
The Grammy Award–winning SLSO’s impact beyond the St. Louis region is realized through weekly Saturday night concert broadcasts on St. Louis Public Radio, acclaimed recordings, and regular touring activity. A sought-after artistic partner by preeminent musicians and composers from across the globe, as well as by local and national organizations, the SLSO enjoys a long history of robust and enduring artistic collaborations that have developed and deepened over the years.
Today, the SLSO builds on the institution’s current momentum on all fronts, including artistic, financial, audience growth, and community impact, and looks toward the future with Stéphane Denève. Denève, who has been a frequent guest conductor with the orchestra since 2003, begins his tenure as Music Director with the 19/20 season, following this season as Music Director Designate.