Two iconic Rochester arts organizations, one unforgettable night

Around Town

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Eastman School of Music and Garth Fagan Dance will come together for “A Collaborative Celebration: Eastman School of Music 100th Anniversary and Garth Fagan Dance 50th Anniversary” this Friday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre in Rochester.

The performance will feature the Eastman Percussion Ensemble, the Eastman Saxophone Project, and members of Garth Fagan Dance.

Michael Burritt, the Director of the Eastman Percussion Ensemble, and William Ferguson, the Executive Director of Garth Fagan Dance, discussed the collaborative celebration Thursday during News 8 at Noon.

“It’s a really exciting collaboration between the Percussion Ensemble and the Eastman Saxophone Project, which is a large saxophone ensemble, and – of course – Garth Fagan Dance,” said Burritt. “Collaborations are my favorite kind of performance. We’re each going to have our own segments. There are going to be some sections where the percussion and the saxophones play and where the saxophones and percussion play independently. Garth Fagan is going to have a wonderful segment to open the second half of the program. And then we’re going to close the program with a brand new premiere of a piece that was written in celebration of the centennial at Eastman and of Garth Fagan’s celebration as well called ‘Dreamer.’ It’s a great, exciting, romantic work with just amazing highs and lows musically, and I have no doubt that the choreography is going to sort of top it all off. I think it will be a super-exciting event and something that you’re just not going to want to miss quite honestly.”

Ferguson echoed Burritt’s enthusiasm. “We’re excited that we have an opportunity to bring arts to everybody in a theatre, live arts in a theatre, at the frontier. Putting together these ensembles like this with Garth Fagan Dance – it’s something that hasn’t been done here in Rochester at this level for a while and we’re happy to be able to semi-inaugurate the performances coming back to theatres in Rochester with this performance.”

One hundred years has produced a treasure trove of talent at Eastman, which Burritt – who grew up in Syracuse – called the Mecca. “To me, it’s a short period of time for the school to have accomplished all that it has in terms of the number of outstanding performers and artistic leaders – whether it be composers, whether they be ethnomusicologists, you name it – there’s just so many great people who have come out of Eastman and have impacted the field in jazz and classical music, you name it, in 100 years. It’s pretty remarkable that we’ve done as much as we have so just wait for the next 100! It will be even better.”

Ferguson said over the last 50 years Garth Fagan Dance has performed all over the world. He summed up the artistic impact by relating a story about “The Lion King” – which Fagan famously choreographed – and its far-reaching influence. “One of the things that people like to say is that in Japan they sing ‘The Lion King’ in Japanese, in South Africa they sing it in Zulu, in Hamburg they sing it in German, in London they sing it in high English, but everywhere ‘The Lion King’ is danced in Fagan! So we’re proud to be able to bring what we do to the Eastman Theatre with the Eastman School of Music.”

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