Thursday evening's Sounds of the Season concert at Interlochen will feature Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Since its album release in 1960, this piece has hardly ever been performed. Thursday's performance of Ellington and Strayhorn's Nutcracker Suite is the first time the piece has been performed at Interlochen. As Bill Sears, Interlochen's Director of Jazz Studies, told Classical IPR's Amanda Sewell, the piece is rarely played because scores for performers were not available until recently.
This version of the Nutcracker takes Tchaikovsky's basic melodies and gives them a swing rhythm. The symphony orchestra has been replaced by Ellington's band, including saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section. Each movement is given a new name, too. For example, the "Dance of the Reed Pipes" becomes "Toot Toot Tootie Toot."
Amanda Sewell's entire interview with Bill Sears is available below. This year's Sounds of the Season concert is completely sold out, but you can hear a live broadcast of the concert on Classical IPR this Thursday starting at 7 PM.