By Anne E. O’Keefe
Rockford Area Arts Council
Julian Bliss is a remarkable musician to say the very least. Born in 1989 in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England, he began playing the clarinet at the age of four. He purchased his first Benny Goodman recording at age seven or eight not expecting that he would someday create a group to celebrate his music with its launch in 2012.
Having received his post graduate from Indiana University at the age of 12 it isn’t surprising that he has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and performed chamber music with Joshua Bell, Hélène Grimaud, Steven Isserlis, Steven Kovacevich. He was one of the distinguished artists chosen to play Queen’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations at Buckingham Palace 2002.
Bliss was asked to join the instrument development team after Conn-Selmer purchased Leblanc Clarinets. “We had a mutual desire to design and build a new intermediate instrument to reduce the obscenely large price gap between beginner instruments and the next step. When I started to play the clarinet, I had a plastic C clarinet which cost me under £100 and when it was time for me to move on, the only suitable instrument was in excess of £1,000. This had always stuck with me.” The “Bliss” was launched in December 2008 at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago.
The Julian Bliss Septet’s (julianbliss.com) first stop in the US is the Rockford Coronado Concert Associations second concert this season. Recreating the exciting sound of swing from the ’30s and ’40s, Julian Bliss leads his septet through some of the great tunes of the swing era, staying true to the authentic feel but with a modern twist. The album, “A Tribute to Benny Goodman,” was released on Signum Records in June 2012 to critical acclaim from both jazz and classical reviewers.
For live performances, Julian Bliss offers an unbiased point of view about the work of Benny Goodman, talking the audience through the music and sharing anecdotes and stories about Goodman’s life, all delivered with humor. Program includes: Lady Be Good (Rifftide), Georgia Brown, Sing Sing Sing, Don’t be that way, Stompin’ at the Savoy and Memories of you.
Having performed at leading venues and festivals across the UK and Europe; including London’s Wigmore Hall & Ronnie Scott’s and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Septet’s next project explores the intense and exciting world of Latin American music.
It is an exciting time in the history of music in Rockford Public Schools district 205, with the goal being reached for Band Wagon 2, the eight middle schools will have funds for instruments, band uniforms, sheet music and instructors. This may be our chance to find the next Bliss.
You won’t want to miss this lively evening of the best swing ever. You will undoubtedly want to jump up and dance in the aisles! Visit rccaconcerts.org or call 815-847-6314 to buy your tickets today.