Ben Opie composes for Jazz orchestra at the New Hazlett

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For the past 30 years, local jazz musician and music educator Ben Opie has composed and performed original music in Pittsburgh. Now, see the completion of his largest, most ambitious creative effort to date—Concerto for Orkestra, a full concert-length symphonic composition for jazz orchestra.

“Duke Ellington composed many suites for his orchestra, and Charles Mingus composed what is perhaps the most ambitious of all jazz works, Epitaph,” Opie said. “However, I can think of no regional composers that have taken on a project quite like this one.”

Scored for 15 musicians and featuring ten movements, Concerto for Orkestra will be given its world premiere on May 2, 2014 at the New Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh, performed by OPEK under the baton of conductor Nizan Liebovich.

“Early in the process of composing the work,” said Opie. “I recalled an odd compliment a friend had paid me once. He told me my playing had been so great, it was no longer music, it was transportation.”

Opie kept this comment in mind during the composition of Concerto for Orkestra, naming all but the opening and closing movements for modes of transportation such as “Fiat,” “Bumper Car,” “Dirigible,” and “Incline.”

The completion of Concerto for Orkestra was made possible by an Investing in Professional Artists: Creative Development Grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation. It premiers at the New Hazlett Theater this May. For information on tickets visit

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