The Asheville Symphony presents a jazz-tinged all-American program of works by Mason Bates, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin on Saturday, November 17 at 8 p.m. The concert takes place at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville, under the baton of Music Director Darko Butorac.

“These three composers share in common the spirit of innovation,” said Butorac. “They all re-imagine what orchestral music can be through their own passions and experiences.”

The program opens with Mason Bates’ 2011 work, Mothership. This fun and fast-paced work combines the composer’s career in electronica — as DJ Masonic — with orchestral music. Bates writes of the piece: “This energetic opener imagines the orchestra as a mothership that is ‘docked’ by several visiting soloists, who offer brief but virtuosic riffs on the works thematic material over action-packed electro-acoustic figuration.”

Next, acclaimed jazz pianist Aaron Diehl joins the orchestra for Duke Ellington’s New World A-Comin’ and George Gershwin’s Variations on “I Got Rhythm.” Diehl is a staple of the New York jazz scene, consistently playing with what the New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” Diehl has collaborated with living masters ranging from NEA Jazz Master Benny Golson to 20th-century classical titan Philip Glass, while also establishing himself as one of the preeminent interpreters of the Great American Songbook in his own trio and with jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Duke Ellington’s Harlem and George Gershwin’s An American in Paris round out the evening’s program, showcasing the ability of two American music greats to use the orchestra to paint vivid musical portraits of two distinct places. In Harlem Ellington invites audiences on a musical tour of the neighborhood infused with influences ranging from swing to rumba, with a tone that seems to shift as you stroll from block to block. Gershwin’s An American in Paris is a jazz-based tone poem inspired by his visit to France that depicts the experience of an American tourist strolling through a lively post-World War II Paris.

Masterworks 3: Bates, Ellington, Gershwin

Saturday, November 17, 2018 • 8 p.m.
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
Darko Butorac, conductor
Aaron Diehl, piano

Mason Bates  Mothership
Ellington  New World A-Comin’
Gershwin  Variations on “I Got Rhythm”
Ellington  Harlem
Gershwin  An American in Paris