Wayne Shorter has left an indelible mark on the development of music for the last half-century. He first rose to prominence in the late 1950’s as the primary composer for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He next joined the Miles Davis Quintet becoming what that bandleader referred to as the ensemble’s “intellectual musical catalyst” before co-founding the pioneering group Weather Report. Since 2001, he has led his own highly acclaimed quartet. The Jazz Journalists Association have awarded the Shorter Quartet Small Ensemble of the Year six times and the groups most recent recording Without a Net received Album of the Year honors from the Downbeat and NPR Jazz Critics Polls.
Shorter’s orchestral works have been performed by the Chicago Symphony, Lyon Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Prague Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and acclaimed artists and ensembles such as Renee Fleming and the Imani Winds have also performed his works. He has received commissions from the St. Louis, Nashville, Detroit and National Symphony Orchestras, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Kennedy Center for the Arts and the La Jolla Music Society. In all, Mr. Shorter has realized over 200 compositions and dozens of these works have become modern standards that are performed around the world by premiere artists and studied by students.
Wayne Shorter’s outstanding record of professional achievement includes 10 Grammys including a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2015. He has received Honorary Doctorates from the Berklee School of Music, New England Conservatory and New York University. The National Endowment for the Arts presented Shorter with the Jazz Master Award in 1997 and he received a Lifetime achievement award from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in 2013. In 2016, Mr. Shorter was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named a Guggenheim Fellow for composition as well as receiving a New Works for Jazz commission from Chamber Music America. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School.
Mr. Shorter and his long time friend and collaborator Herbie Hancock recently published online an Open Letter to the Next Generation of Artists in response to the recent outbreak of violence and tragedy around the world.
Four time Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding has, in the past decade of her illustrious career (which also involves having performed at the Oscars, the Grammys, the Nobel Prize ceremony, and several times at the White House), continually and brilliantly married genres, pushed boundaries, and created groundbreaking work. By anyone’s measure, Spalding’s accomplishments at 32 years of age have already eclipsed those of artists half a century older, yet it’s blatantly obvious that her artistic journey is a lifelong one that we’ve just begun to collectively comprehend.
Spalding is, as a composer, bassist and vocalist, expansive, iterative, shape-shifting, open, and progressively innovative. A voracious and magnetic performer, she is attentively studious towards what the process of playing live--whether sharing a stage with her own revolving ensembles, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Janelle Monae or Prince—presents to the structure of a song. That channeled energy runs through her recorded catalog of seven collaborative and five solo albums. The most recent, Emily’s D+Evolution, was released March 4th (Concord) and is a fresh artistic vision for Spalding--a daring tapestry of music, vibrant imagery, performance art and stage design. Co-produced by Spalding and Tony Visconti (David Bowie), the album is an electrifying take on the power trio, and is adorned with rich vocal arrangements and touches of synthesizer.
As The New York Times mentions in their 2012 post-Best New Artist Grammy profile, Spalding “has made her mark not just as a virtuoso jazz bassist or an effortlessly nimble singer but as an exotic hybrid of the two. The very nature of her talent is exceptional.” That same year’s release, Radio Music Society, debuted on the Billboard Top 10; The Guardian praised its “torchy swaggers." 2010’s Chamber Music Society was infused with what NPR dubbed “an ineffable brightness”. Preceding that was her eponymous Esperanza album, performed in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Spalding’s 2006 debut, “JUNJO,” was called “a stunningly sophisticated yet playful set of acoustic trio jazz: rubbery bass, piano, drums and sexy Latin melodies harking back to the ‘70s Brazilian jazz of Flora Purim” by Rolling Stone—but 2006 is far from where Spalding’s life in music began.
Following an inspirational episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that featured Yo Yo Ma, Spalding pursued study of her first instrument, the violin, at a time when most children her age were just learning to read. At age five, she was playing with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon in her hometown of Portland. By the time she exited the group at 15 as a concertmaster, she was composing and playing acoustic bass professionally with local bands. The latter became the instrument most central to her work: she joined her first band as a bassist and vocalist, Noise for Pretend, the same year she left the Chamber Music Society of Oregon. Following the group’s run, Spalding became one of the youngest bassists at Portland State University. When that wasn’t ultimately a fit, she moved to and graduated from Berklee College of Music. Upon graduation at age 20, Spalding became the prestigious school’s youngest-ever instructor.
Through her groundbreaking albums, she is still teaching those who listen.
Renowned for his command of the most intricate and demanding of works, Clark Rundell has established himself as a highly sought-after guest conductor. His repertoire ranges from music of the 18th Century to the current day, encompassing many genres from large scale works for choir and orchestra to the small ensemble. He recently made his debuts with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Klangforum Wien and the SWR-Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden, all of whom immediately re-invited him to conduct over the next few seasons. He works regularly with orchestras and ensembles including all of the BBC orchestras, Britten Sinfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Ensemble 10/10 and Asko Schoenberg.
His conducting in the opera house has included premiere performances of James MacMillan’s opera Clemency at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Orlando Gough’s Voices & Votes at the Bergen International Festival. Other operas he has conducted include Albert Herring, The Turn of the Screw, Carmen, Katya Kabanov,a Street Scene, L’Heure Espagnole, The Cunning Little Vixen and L'enfant et les sortilèges.
Deeply committed to the performance of new music, Clark Rundell has given world premières of works by composers such as Louis Andriessen, Steve Reich, Mark-Anthony Turnage, James MacMillan, Django Bates, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Gary Carpenter, Tim Garland, Adam Gorb, David Horne, Steve Mackey, Steve Martland, Martijn Padding, Gwilym Simcock and Joey Roukens.
As an arranger, he has collaborated with Louis Andriessen on a suite from Andriessen’s opera Rosa, entitled Rosa’s Horses, which was premiered by Clark Rundell and the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, at Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. The pair also collaborated on Vermeer Pictures, a suite from Andriessen’s opera Writing to Vermeer, which was also performed at Het Concertgebouw to great critical acclaim. Clark Rundell is working on further suites of Louis Andriessen’s more recent operas.
A specialist in cross-genre collaboration, he has conducted extensive orchestral projects with artists such as Elvis Costello, Wayne Shorter Quartet, Esperanza Spalding, Toumani Diabate, Brad Mehldau, Tim Garland and Gwilym Simcock. A highly versatile musician, Rundell has also performed with artists such as John Dankworth, Bob Brookmeyer, Victor Mendoza, Guy Barker, Julian Argüelles, Ed Thigpen, Cleo Laine, Andy Sheppard, Lew Tabakin and Michael Gibbs.
He is passionate about working with young people and is Professor of Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and has a close relationship with the Netherlands Orchestral Academy.
Clark Rundell spent much of his childhood in Bloomington, Minnesota. He studied conducting at the Northwestern University, Chicago with John Paynter and trombone with Frank Crisafulli, and was subsequently awarded a Junior Fellowship to study conducting with Timothy Reynish at the RNCM. He now lives just outside Manchester with his wife and two children.