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Rite of Spring for Big Band. Solid.


Wanted to make sure this didn’t get by you:

Tomorrow (Ed:  now tonight) the Contemporary Museum’s Mobtown Modern music series will be  presenting the complete Rite of Spring arranged for modern big band. The 7:30pm set will be livestreamed online by Radar Redux ( so all can attend, even those not in Baltimore! More info at

Best wishes,
Brian Sacawa
Curator, Mobtown Modern Music Series
Contemporary Museum


Comment from Jean-François Charles
Time: May 12, 2010, 9:47 am

Would be good to compare to Don Sebesky’s jazz arrangement.

Comment from Brian
Time: May 12, 2010, 10:50 am

@Jean-Francois Actually, it’s much different with the main difference being that Sebesky simply took themes from the original to work into a 6-min “chart.” The arrangement Mobtown Modern presents tonight is of the entire score.

Comment from Chris Becker
Time: May 12, 2010, 11:55 am

I’ll listen and follow along with my Dover score! That’s a bear of a piece to try and arrange for alternate instrumentation!

P.S. Burnt Sugar has a CD called the Rites with Butch Morris conducting that also uses themes from The Rite to realize a conduction for a large band of electric guitars, strings, piano, turntables, etc.

Comment from Steve Layton
Time: May 12, 2010, 1:17 pm

Of course for a couple other takes on it, there’s Fireworks:

And the even more daunting version by John Ringer, for basically a power trio:

Comment from Armando Bayolo
Time: May 12, 2010, 9:54 pm

Man, Brian, I am kicking myself for not being able to make this concert. I’ve been meaning to make a Mobtown Modern event for some time but I’m in Baltimore in the mornings, primarily, and don’t stay or head back. Next season I’ll have to come check you guys out. I hope the concert rocked tonight.

Comment from Mark B
Time: May 14, 2010, 10:13 am

What a pointless activity. Stravinksy would be turning in his grave. I’m sure if it was intended for a “big band” he would have arranged it so. More like the “Shite” of Spring

Comment from Steve Layton
Time: May 14, 2010, 11:48 am

Interesting point, Mark (though you sound a little like you got up on the wrong side of the bed today…). Just how sacrosant are the composer’s “intentions” anyway, and for how long? Seems there’s a point where other people’s intentions can come into play as well, often to interesting effect. The tradition of re-arranging and even re-styling composers’ works has a pretty long and respected tradition, too. The idea of the composer’s score being “set in stone” is fairly recent.

Comment from paul bailey
Time: May 14, 2010, 12:21 pm

as an arrangement, i’m not sure you add anything by having a ride symbol behind it, it reminds me of the 4/4 arrangement of dave brubek’s “take 5″ and having solos makes it sound more like a parody of one of ellington’s chamber works (which interestingly enough he was cribbing from stravinsky)

on one hand music shouldn’t be painstakingly preserved in an airless glass tomb, but listening to a big band play stravinsky is like watching monty python putting on the coronation of poppea.

it all sounds interesting on paper, but…

Comment from Chris Becker
Time: May 15, 2010, 6:38 pm

“…which interestingly enough he was cribbing from Stravinsky.”

And Stravinsky wasn’t “cribbing” anything from jazz? You’ve heard Ebony Concerto, right?

Comment from paul bailey
Time: May 15, 2010, 7:13 pm

of course…

i think it’s safe to say that ellington and stravinsky each made better works in their own art and jazz mediums

Comment from Chris Becker
Time: May 15, 2010, 7:34 pm

I think they both transcended any and all labels (especially “jazz”) that are put upon what is just great music.

Comment from bgn
Time: May 17, 2010, 8:36 am

Well, you must admit, a big band arrangement would be more practical for a ballet company than Stravinsky’s original humongous orchestra…