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Symphony season kicks off with concert at PAC tonight

Bryan Pezzone and Friends concert is Santa Clarita Symphony opener

Posted: November 1, 2008 7:53 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2008 8:53 a.m.

Bryan Pezzone shares the piano with two participants at a Santa Clarita Symphony-sponsored "Instrument Petting Zoo" event, held at Borders in Valencia the first Friday of every month.

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The Santa Clarita Symphony celebrates its five-year anniversary with a black-tie gala tonight, featuring a rare and intimate classical/jazz performance by piano virtuoso Bryan Pezzone - and friends.

Good seats are still available to join local music enthusiasts as the Symphony kicks off its 2008-09 season in style at 8 p.m. 

"While black-tie is certainly optional, this concert marks our fifth year of providing unique, professional, orchestral music to the Santa Clarita Valley, and we want to celebrate with our audience," Jim Blazer, Symphony board president, said. "It‘s going to be a fantastic evening."

"An Evening with Bryan Pezzone and Friends" will feature crossover classical and jazz music in an improvisational style, including a medley of Gershwin classics as well as Pezzone's famous Mozart Club Sandwich - his favorite movements from Mozart's piano sonatas interspersed with improvisations.

A special set constructed for the event will represent a New York City apartment, John Dow, Symphony marketing director said.

The audience will see Pezzone as he arrives "home from work" and sits down at his piano to relax with a little Gershwin, Dow said. Next, we hear a knock on the door, and some friends (drummer MB Gordy and bassist Bart Samolis) stop by for a "jam" session.

"Not only will the concert include amazing improvisations, but will include direct interactions with the audience." Dow said. "Bryan Pezzone will take a break from playing, as if going to the kitchen to get a glass of water, and engage the audience in conversation. He will also take a request or two.

"A few lucky audience members will be offered a seat on the sofa in Bryan's 'apartment' where they can experience the concert."

Pezzone performs in classical, contemporary, jazz and experimental genres and is well-known for his versatility and virtuosity as a performing artist, improviser and composer.

He performs with many major symphony orchestra associations, and is known in the Los Angeles area as one of the primary free-lance pianists for film and television soundtrack recording (and has been the pianist on virtually all of the cartoons released by Warner Bros. and Disney over the past six years), contemporary music premieres, and chamber music accompanying.

Pezzone's workshops on his comprehensive approach to improvisation are frequently requested and he is a consulting editor for the well-known publication Piano and Keyboard.

As a soloist, Bryan has performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Pasadena Pops, Santa Monica Symphony, Santa Clarita Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute Orchestra, United States International University Orchestra, U.C. Irvine Symphony Orchestra, Eastman Philharmonic and the Pacific Symphony.

Among Gordy's film credits are "The Crow," "Stigmata," "Collateral Damage," "Scary Movie," "Spider Man," "Terminator 3," "X-Men II" and "3:10 to Yuma." Television credits include: "King of the Hill," "The Tonight Show," "Good Morning America," "American Dreams" and "Battlestar Galactica." He has performed with the L.A. Philharmonic, The National Symphony, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, The Long Beach Opera, The Pasadena Pops and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

A successful session and touring artist, Samolis has performed and recorded with a wide variety of jazz and contemporary music acts including Bryan Pezzone's Free Flight, Lori Andrews, Jon Secada, The Fifth Dimension, Michael Bolton, Rod Stewart, Cybill Shepherd, Barry Manilow, Frank Gambale, Brandon Fields, Ralph Humphrey, Eric Marienthal, Jeff Kashiwa, The Fowler Brothers and many others.

Dow said Saturday night's season-opening concert is another in the Symphony's efforts to bring music to audiences in fresh and innovative ways.

"The whole point of the ‘studio apartment' setting is to make a real connection between the performers and the people, in a hip, innovative way that inspires audience members to think about, enjoy, and interact with music in different ways than they may have before," said Dow. "It will help them to think outside the (music) box."

The Symphony offers a monthly "Musical Petting Zoo" at Borders Books on Town Center Drive on the first Friday of each month where children can interact with musical instruments and meet professional musicians.

Friday night, the Zoo featured the French horn, with Symphony musician and entertainer Stephanie O'Keefe on hand to introduce kids to the brass instrument.

In addition, an annual family concert and "Bon Appetit" (where food, wine and music star) events bring diverse musical experiences to the SCV.

Tickets: Seniors 60 and older and students with ID earn $5 off. Tickets may be purchased for individual events or as a part of the Premiere Concert Series (including tickets to the sold-out Art Garfunkel performance).

Purchase tickets online at or by calling the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center Box Office at (661) 362-5304, or in person at the PAC Theatre box office 30 minutes prior to the show.

Find the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia.


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