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May 20 2022

A Tribute to James Newton

Schoenberg Hall

**Venue change: May 20 concert A Tribute to James Newton moved to Schoenberg Hall**

In tribute to his impactful and innovative years serving as Distinguished Professor in The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, this concert features works of Distinguished Professor Emeritus James Newton, who was the leading force in the development of the UCLA Global Jazz Studies Program and who taught many students in the areas of composition and jazz styles, history, and analysis.

Among the pieces performed will be Professor Newton's Mass, his arrangement of "Amazing Grace," and other chamber works representing his vast and rich compositional repertoire. 

Sacred Music of James Newton

Conducted by Anthony Parnther


Mass for Four Voices and Chamber Ensemble (2006)
Stacey Fraser, soprano
Maria Dominique Lopez, mezzo-soprano
Todd Strange, tenor
Abdiel Gonzales, bass/baritone

The Image of the Invisible for String Quartet (1995, Rev. 2021)
The Lyris Quartet

Elisha's Gift for String Quintet (2014)
The Lyris Quartet
Eric Shetzen, contrabass

Looking Above, The Faith of Joseph (2008)
Aron Kallay, piano

Amazing Grace Version 1 for String Quintet (2016)
The Lyris Quartet
Eric Shetzen, contrabass

James Newton (composer/flutist)

James Newton's work encompasses chamber, symphonic, and electronic music genres, ballet, modern dance compositions, and numerous jazz and world music contexts.

Newton has been the recipient of many awards, fellowships, and grants, including the Ford Foundation, Guggenheim, National Endowment of the Arts and Rockefeller Fellowships, Montreux Grande Prix Du Disque, and Downbeat International Critics Jazz Album of the Year, as well as being voted the top flutist for a record-breaking 23 consecutive years in Downbeat Magazine's International Critics Poll.

In 2005 Newton decided to commence the greatest challenge of his compositional career – a trilogy of large-scale sacred works: Mass, St. Matthew Passion, and a setting of Psalm 119. Mass, completed in early 2007, received its premiere at the 2007 Metastasio Festival in Prato, Italy. Its U.S. premiere (an expanded choral version) occurred in 2011, with Grant Gershon conducting the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Newton completed his St. Matthew Passion in 2014. Its World premiere, with Grant Gershon conducting Coro e Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino, occurred in 2015 during the Torino Jazz and La Sidone Festivals. Newton is the first African American composer rooted in the Jazz tradition to compose a St. Matthew Passion. His research on the trilogy's final installment, Psalm 119, began in the summer of 2017, and he completed the work in the spring of 2021.

Described as a musician's renaissance man, Newton has performed with and composed for many notable artists in the jazz and classical fields: San Francisco Ballet, Coro e Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino, Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi, Mingus Dynasty, Anthony Davis, David Murray, Aurèle Nicolet, Dino Saluzzi, Zakir Hussain, Geri Allen, New York Philharmonic, Cecil Taylor, Emmanuel Pahud, Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Billy Hart, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Henry Threadgill, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Ensemble für Neue Musik (Zurich), Gloria Cheng, Jon Jang, and Frank Wess among others. Newton's works have been performed at notable venues including Carnegie Hall, the San Francisco Opera House, The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Cité de la Musique Paris, France, Berlin National Gallery, Teatro Romano, Verona, Italy, The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Bowl, RAI Auditorium, Torino, Italy, Blas Galindo Auditorium, Mexico City, Mexico, Teatro Strehler, Milano, Italy, Theatre de la Ville, Paris, France, Parco Concert Hall, Tokyo, Japan, DIRECTV Music Hall, Rio De Janeiro, Severance Hall, Cleveland, Studio Koncertowe Polska Radio im. Witolda Lutoslawskiego, Warsaw Poland, Amsterdam Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum, New York, New York.

In addition to significant compositions, Newton's recent work includes his co-producing with Zev Feldman, a release of the creation of renowned jazz multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy. The recording, entitled Eric Dolphy Musical Prophet (The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions) on Resonance Records, was released late 2018. It was runner-up for the 2019 DownBeat International Critics' Poll Reissue of the Year Award.

Newton is a distinguished professor emeritus at the Herb Alpert School of Music, the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also held professorships at the University of California at Irvine, California Institute of the Arts, and Cal State University Los Angeles. In May of 2005, the California Institute of the Arts awarded Newton a Doctor of Arts Degree, Honoris Causa.

Anthony Parnther, Conductor

American conductor Anthony Parnther is the Music Director and Conductor of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra and the Southeast Symphony & Chorus in Los Angeles. His recent guest conducting engagements include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Los Angeles Opera, Mann Center Festival Orchestra, Chineke! Orchestra, Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, Jacaranda - Music at the Edge, Hear Now Music Festival, Pittsburgh Microtonal Festival, Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, BrightworkNewMusic, and the World Opera Forum in Madrid, Spain.

Lyris Quartet

The Lyris Quartet, described as “radiant…excellent... and powerfully engaged” by Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times, was founded in 2008. The founding of Lyris was the culmination of years of collaboration between its members in many different ensembles in Los Angeles. Individually, members of the quartet have won top prizes at such competitions as the Tchaikovsky International Competition and Aspen Music Festival and collaborated with renowned artists Natalia Gutman, David Geringas, Martha Argerich, Alban Gerhardt, Boris Pergamenschikov, Guillame Sutre, Myung-Whun Chung, and Richard Stoltzman.

In Los Angeles, Lyris has performed at the Bing Theater at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Broad Stage, Zipper Hall at The Colburn School, Royce Hall, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Lyris Quartet also helps to curate the new music series “Hear Now,” which helps to promote the music of Los Angeles composers.

Stacey Fraser, Soprano

Described as having a “wonderfully controlled soprano voice” by Alex Ross of the New York Times and “an astonishing presence” by Jennifer de Poyen of the San Diego Union Tribune, Canadian soprano Stacey Fraser’s eclectic musical interests have led her to sing on international operatic, concert and theatre stages across the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe.

Maria Dominique Lopez, Mezzo-Soprano

Praised as “a rich-voiced mezzo” (Operawire) and “a real tour-de-force” (Splash Magazine), Mexican-American mezzo-soprano has sung operatic roles and symphonic works throughout the United States and Europe for over a decade. Additionally, Maria has recorded vocals for independent films and major motion pictures, including Golden Globe and Academy Award Winning Disney/Pixar film, “Coco,” and New Line Cinema’s horror film, “The Curse of La Llorona.”

Todd Strange, tenor

Praised as singing with "tenorial sweetness" and a "voice that never falters", lyric tenor, Todd Strange is a well-rounded performing artist specializing in opera, solo concert work, musical theater, in addition to session singing and professional choral/ensemble work. Mr. Strange is currently a roster member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Los Angeles Opera, and is a soloist in many regional opera companies and symphonies across the United States and abroad. Professional highlights include both leading and supporting roles with The LA Philharmonic, Long Beach Opera, New York City Opera, Arizona Opera, Ohio Light Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Stockton Opera and San Diego Opera.

Abdiel González, Baritone 

Puerto Rican baritone Abdiel González has been praised for his "rich, lush baritone" and for having a "superb voice, which commanded the stage." He has been a concert soloist under the batons of Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Grant Gershon, to name a few. He has traveled the world singing, most recently to Taiwan, singing the role of Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, as well as being the baritone soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Boca Del Rio Orchestra in Veracruz, Mexico, for the inaugural concert of a new state-of-the-art performing arts center. He has performed 36 operatic and Zarzuela roles and can be heard in over 30 films, including Coco, Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Eric Shetzen, Contrabass

Double bassist Eric Shetzen earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at The Juilliard School as a student of New York Philharmonic bassists Orin O’Brien and David Grossman. For three years he served as Principal Bass of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra in Osaka, Japan. He also spent several seasons as a Fellow in the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy directed by Michael Tilson Thomas. An avid chamber musician, Eric has collaborated with members of the Juilliard String Quartet, the Lyris String Quartet, violinist Maxim Vengerov, and conductors Lorin Maazel and James Conlon. His festival appearances include the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Incontri in Terra di Siena Festival, Castleton Festival, and the PRISMA Festival. Eric now performs as a freelance bassist in Los Angeles where he maintains a varied career as a performer and teacher. He has been featured on several distinguished contemporary concert series such as Jacaranda: Music at the Edge and the Hear/Now Music Festival, and the Ojai Music Festival.

Aron Kallay, Piano

Described as a “modern renaissance man,” (Over the Mountain Journal) Grammy® nominated pianist Aron Kallay‘s playing has been called “exquisite…every sound sounded considered, alive, worthy of our wonder” (LA Times).  “Perhaps Los Angeles’ most versatile keyboardist,” (LaOpus) Aron has been praised as possessing “that special blend of intellect, emotion, and overt physicality that makes even the thorniest scores simply leap from the page into the listeners' laps.” (KPFK) Aron’s performances often integrate technology, video, and alternate tunings; Fanfare magazine described him as “a multiple threat: a great pianist, brainy tech wizard, and visionary promoter of a new musical practice.”

This event is made possible by the David and Irmgard Dobrow Fund. Classical music was a passion of the Dobrows, who established a generous endowment at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to make programs like this possible. We are proud to celebrate this program as part of the 2022 - 23 Dobrow Series. Additional support by Friends of Jazz at UCLA, Gloria Turner—President; the Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies held by Professor Terence Blanchard; and the UCLA Herb Alpert Endowment Fund for Guest Lecturers.

About Newton's "Amazing Grace"


Admission is Free!
Donations received with event RSVPs will support the UCLA Friends of Jazz Global Jazz Student Scholarship Fund.

Early arrival is recommended for the live concert. Registrants receive priority up until 15 minutes before the event.Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Masks must be worn at all times, properly covering the nose and mouth

Proof of full vaccination against COVID 19 – This means two weeks have passed since receiving the final dose of the vaccine
Proof of Negative COVID test no older than 72hrs
This test result must include: First & Last Name, Date of sample collection, Negative result

Masks are required to be worn at all times regardless of vaccination status
No food or drink is allowed in the building.