Choral music, jazz, bebop and a classic children’s show performed in English and Spanish will all come to Atlantic City this weekend as part of the third annual Atlantic City Music Festival, a celebration of new and traditional musical styles presented by the Bay-Atlantic Symphony in partnership with Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
The three-day festival will be held at Stockton’s Dante Hall Theater on North Mississippi Avenue in Atlantic City, and this year will feature Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey, a night of swing and bebop with master trumpeter George Rabbi and the children’s classic “Peter and the Wolf,” with narration in English and Spanish by Dominican actor Carlos Espinal.
The festival’s third year continues a tradition of musical diversity for the symphony. Last year’s music festival including brass classics, traditional bluegrass from the Random Canyon Growlers and classical chamber music.
“We love to bring different types of music to Atlantic City,” says Paul Herron, executive director of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, which is based in Bridgeton. “Atlantic City has a tremendous musical diversity in their history, and this is our way of celebrating it. (The festival) will feature new composers as well as some spiritual pieces that have been re-arranged for a string quartet and choral group.”
Herron hopes to see the festival grow in coming years, with more shows stretched out over more days, eventually becoming a regional draw.
“This is our third year and we’ve been getting tremendous support from Stockton College,” Herron says. “The symphony isn’t making any money on this … this is just what we want to do.”
“Voices and Strings in Concert featuring 21st Century American Choral Composers,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3: Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey will perform new and traditional spiritual music, in conjunction with the Bay-Atlantic Symphony String Quartet. Thirty singers, along with soprano Lauren Athey-Janka, will perform Eric Whitacre’s “5 Hebrew Love Songs.” Other pieces will include the popular Ola Gjeilo’s “Dark Night of the Soul,” a new arrangement of a Shaker hymn by William Hawley and pieces by southern New Jersey composers.
“A Night of Swing ’n BeBop,” 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4: Jazz trumpeter George Rabbai and his All Star Quintet will be performing the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Tadd Dameron, Horace Silver, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and compositions made famous by jazz trumpeters Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Clark Terry and Miles Davis, as well as standard tunes by Broadway’s greatest songwriters. Rabbai will be joined by Dick Oatts (alto saxophone), Tom Lawton (piano), Dan Monaghan (drums) and Matt Parrish (bass).
Herron still recalls the first time he heard Rabbai pick up a discarded, old trumpet and still play beautiful music.
“We’re bringing in five really tremendous jazz musicians, headed by George Rabbai,” Herron says. “He can pick up a trumpet and just blast it.”
“Peter and the Wolf Children’s Concert,” 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5: Closing out the festival will be Sergei Prokofiev’s musical symphony for children, performed by the Bay-Atlantic Chamber Orchestra under Maestro Jed Gaylin and narrated in both English and Spanish by Dominican actor Carlos Espinal. Peter and the Wolf, composed nearly 80 years ago, has been performed and recorded in many languages and never lost its special charm, Herron says.
“Peter and the Wolf is a tremendous classical piece for kids,” Herron says. “We’re bringing it in with a 17-piece orchestra, and we have Carlos Espinal doing the narrating. So we think that’s really great for a new generation of music lovers.”