Audiences will be treated to some of the world’s most beloved opera favorites in an out-of-the-ordinary jazz backdrop at Wharton Music Center’s Library Concert Series at the New Providence Memorial Library on Sunday, March 30 at 2 p.m. Eric Olsen, piano, and Lou Caimano, saxophone, appear as the innovative duo DYAD in an electrifying performance of contemporary jazz arrangements of the music of iconic opera composer Giacomo Puccini. The concert, free and open to the public, is sponsored in part by the Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation. The New Providence Memorial Library is located at 377 Elkwood Ave.
Described by Critical Jazz as “Perhaps the most amazing transformation of cultural enlightenment in the last quarter century,” DYAD explores the colors, textures, and beauty of Puccini’s music, some of the most acclaimed operatic works from the nineteenth century; indeed, Puccini was one of the most-performed composers among his Romantic contemporaries and continues to garner popularity even to this day. His masterpiece La Bohème is touted as one of the most popular operas ever written, anticipating close to 500 performances worldwide in the 2013-2014 season alone and has served as inspiration for numerous pop creations including the 1994 musical Rent and the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, both based directly on the opera.
DYAD imbues Puccini’s beautiful yet simple melodies with blues, Latin groove, and west coast jazz swing all while traversing the landscape of such famous works as La Rondine, Madama Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi, and La Bohème.
“Dyad Plays Puccini is chamber jazz at its finest,” says Ron Netsky of the Rochester City Newspaper. “Lou Caimano is an extraordinary saxophonist. Eric Olsen is an excellent pianist.”
Caimano is a veteran musician of the Broadway stage, appearing in over a dozen shows including A Chorus Line, Cats, and Evita. He has performed with The Four Tops, The Temptations, and Nancy Wilson as well as countless recording artists and pop groups. Formerly the Director of Jazz Studies at Bemidji State University and adjunct faculty at the City University of New York, Mr. Caimano now serves as Executive Director of the Ridgewood Conservatory in Paramus.
Since moving to the New York Metropolitan area in the early 90s, Eric Olsen has recorded and collaborated with a vast roll call of classical musicians and opera singers including Betty Allen, Klara Barlow, Walter Cassel, and Martha Lipton, and jazz musicians Pharoan Aklaff, David Baker, Don Braden, John Isley, Steve Johns, Mike Karn, B.D. Lenz, and Bucky Pizzarelli. His discography includes classical recordings as a soloist, accompanist, and choral conductor, jazz recordings, and recordings for meditation. Mr. Olsen is featured on four albums with Kevin Maynor, including the Grammy-nominated Black Art Song in 2000. He is a faculty member of Montclair State University and Wharton Music Center.
Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Ave. in Berkeley Heights, provides music, theatre, and dance instruction, educational programs, and performances for children, teens, and adults. In addition to instruction in all instruments and voice, WMC offers classes in musical theatre, dance, drama, vocal music, music theory, audio recording, early childhood music, and music for children with special needs. Offering a range of musical genres including classical, rock, jazz, and blues, WMC is one of New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts center serving students in Union, Morris, Essex, Somerset, and other surrounding counties.
WMC offers orchestral and ensemble music education for grades 3 through 12 through New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) located at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has eleven orchestras and ensembles for which auditions are held annually. NJYS’s premiere orchestra, Youth Symphony, has performed in internationally renowned concert halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Musikverein in Vienna.
The mission of Wharton Music Center, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is to advance excellence and education in the performing arts. For more information, visit www.WhartonMusicCenter.org or www.NJYS.org.