Pianist tells students classical music, jazz are in harmony

Friday October 12, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- As it turns out, Herbie Hancock’s jazz works and Claude Debussy’s classical compositions have more in common than people might think.

On Thursday morning, concert pianist Frederick Moyer of the Jazz Arts Trio shared his insights on the ties between jazz and classical during an hour long program for Herberg and Reid middle school music students at the Berkshire Museum.

The program was sponsored by Berkshires Jazz Inc., as part of the Pittsfield CityJazz festival.

What gives jazz its varying sound from classical?

"It’s the improv that makes it interesting," said Moyer.

"But," he said, "the classical guys were far hipper than the jazz guys."

Mayor cited, as an example, how classical composers were pairing mismatched chords long before jazz musicians.

Moyer encouraged the students to experiment with both genres of music.

During his presentation, the pianist performed classical Mozart to contemporary pieces, such as applying a snippet of the "James Bond" theme and George Gersh win’s genre-blending "Rhap sody in Blue."

Moyer listed jazz’s Oscar Peterson and classical music’s Sergei Rachmaninoff as among his influences.

Whenever possible, the middle school music teachers say they try to expose their pupils to a range of music styles.

Herberg has about 175 students enrolled between its orchestra, jazz band, chorus and concert band groups.

Reid has a smaller music program, with only a chorus and concert band group, because the school’s schedule only allows band students, for example, to meet for 20 minutes of instruction twice a week.

To reach Jenn Smith:
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