Juilliard Jazz Ensemble Jams at Eugene O’Neill Theater

June 3, 2005

WITH fingers slipping skillfully overtheir instruments and feet stomping everywhich way to follow a repertoire of sensuousbeats, the Juilliard Jazz Quintet sentits audience into a trance during a May 25concert at the Costa Rican-NorthAmerican Cultural Center’s EugeneO’Neill Theater in Barrio Dent, east ofdowntown San José.The ensemble of five students fromthe prestigious Juilliard School of Dance,Drama and Music in New York City presenteda selection of their own jazz creationsas well as pieces by Miles Davisand a spectacular interpretation of BillyStrayhorn and Duke Ellington’s “Star-Crossed Lovers.”Pianist Adam Birnbaum, a computerscience major from Boston College inMassachusetts, delighted the audiencewith “Travels,” his original composition.“Playing our own music is not thatdifferent from playing regular tunes, but –don’t get me wrong – I love playing myown tunes,” he told The Tico Times.DRUMMER Marion Felder fromDetroit, Michigan, explained the quintet’sone-week visit to Costa Rica is part of aJuilliard cultural exchange.“They send out different groups; somewere chosen to go to Spoletto, Italy, othersto Victoria, Spain, and we came here,”he said.Blue Valley High School studentMichael Jensen admitted his favoritepiece of the night was Felder’s“Granddaddy Shake.”“This show was mega amazing,” hetold The Tico Times after the concert.During its visit, the quintet alsooffered a jam session at El Observatoriobar in downtown San José, a benefit concertat the AIDS home in the province ofCartago, a special performance at the U.S.ambassador’s residence and a series ofmaster’s lessons at the University of CostaRica and Universidad Nacional, accordingto cultural center director Manuel Arce.THE quintet’s performance is part ofthe center’s “Promising Artists of the 21stCentury” intercultural program, whichincluded a classical music concert by theUniversity of Northern Iowa in March anda jazz concert by the Berklee College ofMusic in April, Arce explained.“We seek the artistic development ofour national youth by offering them thechance to experience the U.S.-universitymusic and dance scene,” he said.In a joint celebration of the interculturalprogram’s 20th and Juilliard’s 100thanniversary, 25 Juilliard students will playat the National Theater in downtown SanJosé Aug. 25.For information on upcoming performancesor to offer voluntary housing tovisiting artists, call 207-7571.

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