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Shelly Berg, Jose Serebrier, Royal Philharmonic: Bio

Shelly Berg is a Steinway piano artist and multi-Grammy nominated arranger and producer. His latest album Gershwin Reimagined: An American in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by José Serebrier and produced by Gregg Field (Decca Gold).

The All Music Guide says "Shelly Berg is one of the finest pianists around in the early 21st century playing modern mainstream jazz." His recording project The Deep with bassist Dave Finck on Chesky Records is widely praised for its versatility and virtuosity with 4.5 stars from DownBeat magazine. His solo project Shelly Berg: The Nearness of You (Arbors) and a two-piano album with Dick Hyman Meeting of Minds (Victoria) are also both critically acclaimed. His album Blackbird, recorded with the Shelly Berg Trio on the Concord Records label, reached #1 in US jazz radio and garnered Record of the Year and Artist of the Year nominations (Jazzweek, 2005).

Berg was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals category as co-arranger of "I Loves You Porgy / There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York" from the album Rendezvous (2018) featuring jazz singers Clint Holmes and Dee Dee Bridgewater with The Count Basie Orchestra. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals category for his arrangement of "Be My Muse" on Lorraine Feather's album Flirting with Disaster (2015), as well as his arrangement of "What a Wonderful World" on Gloria Estefan: The Standards (2014), and "Out There" on Lorraine Feather's Tales of the Unusual (2013). He was also nominated for a Grammy as co-producer of Gloria Estefan: The Standards in the Best Traditional Pop Album category.

Other recent recording and arranging projects include Seal's Standards, Clint Black's Rendezvous, Arturo Sandoval's Grammy-winning Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You) and Latin Grammy-winning A Time for Love, Reneé Fleming's Christmas in New York with Friends, and Ray Sings, Basie Swings (Concord).

Berg is artistic advisor for Jazz Roots at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, musical director of The Jazz Cruise, and host of the show Generation Next on Real Jazz Sirius XM. He has appeared on numerous NPR radio broadcasts for Jim Cullum's Riverwalk Jazz series.

Shelly Berg has performed, recorded and arranged for renown jazz vocalists Patti Austin, Nancy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Carmen Bradford,  Tierney Sutton, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lizz Wright, Cassandra Wilson, Lorraine Feather, Monica Mancini, and Dionne Warwick, and performed and/or recorded with a "Who's Who" of jazz legends including Ray Brown, Louie Bellson, John Clayton, Eddie Daniels, Peter Erskine, Dave Finck, Branford Marsalis, Gregg Field, Chuck Berghofer, Dave Grusin, Woody Herman, Arturo Sandoval, Tom Scott, Clark Terry, and Bill Watrous to name just a few. A finalist in the 1988 Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Berg has recorded over 30 disks for the Yamaha Disklavier piano.

His composing and orchestrating for television includes ABC's Fudge, CBS's A League of Their Own, and HBO's Dennis Miller Live. He has performed on television with Zac Brown, Mark Anthony, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Garth Brooks, Tricia Yearwood, Prince Royce, Patti LaBelle, Mariah Carey, and has orchestrated for Chicago, KISS, Carole King, Richard Marx, Joe Cocker, Elliott Smith, Lou Rawls, Steve Miller, Yoshiki, X Japan, and others.

Film orchestration work includes Warner Bros. Almost Heroes and For Your Consideration, Fox's Men of Honor, and the NBC mini-series The '60s. He has written for the Royal Philharmonic, the American Symphony, and orchestras worldwide. He composed the theme song to the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival, and orchestrated Anniversary for the 10th anniversary of the coronation of Japan's Emperor Akihito. His orchestrations are called "magnificent. . . incredible" by Johnny Mandel.

Shelly Berg is the dean of the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, a position he has held since June 2007. In addition to his leadership role as dean, he is the Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music and teaches classical improvisation classes and private piano students. He previously held the McCoy/Sample endowed professorship of jazz studies in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California where he taught for 16 years. He is a past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), and was named 2003 Educator of the Year by the Los Angeles Jazz Society. In 2002, Shelly was the recipient of the IAJE Lawrence Berk Leadership Award. In 2000, the Los Angeles Times named him one of three "Educators for the Millennium." He has appeared as a performer and lecturer throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Mexico, Europe, Japan, and Israel.

Berg has numerous compositions for jazz ensemble in publication, and his texts include the Chop-Monster improvisation series, Essentials of Jazz Theory, and Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (Alfred Publishing), and Jazz Improvisation: The Goal-Note Method (Kendor Music).

José Serebrier, who is today's most frequently-recorded conductor, established himself as a significant composer as far back as the 1950s. Serebrier's most recent work, Symphony No. 3 for string orchestra and soprano vocalise, has been released on Naxos along with a number of his other works for strings (see reviews).  The Symphony No. 3, "Symphonie Mystique", was released on a new Naxos DVD in June 2008, performed live at Chester Cathedral in the UK by the National Youth Orchestra of Spain conducted by the composer. The 3rd Symphony, originally recorded on CD for Naxos by the Toulouse Chamber Orchestra, received three GRAMMY nominations, including a nomination for the "Best New Composition of 2004".

Serebrier was born in Montevideo, Uruguay of Russian and Polish parents. At the age of nine he began to study the violin, and at age eleven made his conducting debut. While in high school he organized and conducted the first youth orchestra in Uruguay, which toured the country and gave more than one hundred concerts over four years. Upon graduating from the Municipal School of Music in Montevideo in violin, solfege, theory, and Latin American folklore at age fifteen, opportunities for conducting Uruguay's only major orchestra were not forthcoming. That year, the annual composition contest by the National Orchestra, known as SODRE, was announced very late, only two weeks before the deadline. The young musician, thinking that if he won he might be permitted to conduct his work, entered the contest with a hastily written Legend of Faust overture. The 18-minute work was written in the last four days and nights, and the last page composed on a taxi while rushing to meet the deadline. Serebrier won the contest. But the composer being fifteen, his work was assigned to another guest conductor, Eleazar de Carvalho, at that time the most prominent Latin American conductor. Today, Serebrier conducts most major orchestras around the world, and has become the most recorded conductor of his generation, with well over two hundred and fifty titles. His published compositions, many of them written at an early age, also number over one hundred.

Early in his career, Serebrier was the recipient of many of music's most coveted honors. In 1956 and1957 he received a United States State Department Fellowship to study composition at the Curtis Institute of Music with Bohuslav Martinu and Vittorio Giannini, and with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood. In 1956 he was awarded a Koussevitzky Foundation Award at Tanglewood and in the same year a BMI Young Composers Award for his First Symphony and Quartet for Saxophones. The State Department Fellowship was followed by two consecutive Guggenheim Fellowships in 1957 and 1958. At nineteen, he was the youngest ever to obtain these awards in any field. Serebrier has also been honored with two Dorati Fellowships at the University of Minnesota where he received his MA in 1960 (he graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1958), a Pan American Union Publication Award (for his Elegy for Strings), and the Ford Foundation American Conductors Project Award, won together with James Levine. Many other awards followed: a Rockefeller Foundation award to be Composer-in-Residence of the Cleveland Orchestra, at the invitation of George Szell during the season 1958/69 and again 1969/70; a Harvard Musical Association Commission Award (for Fantasia for string quartet); a National Endowment for the Arts Commission (for a ballet, Orpheus x Light for the Joffrey Ballet, based on the Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, Colores Magicos); a Grammy nomination for his recording of the Fourth Symphony by Charles Ives, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra; the U.K. Music Retailers Association award for best orchestral recording (for the Mendelssohn symphonies, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra); the Deutsche Schallplatten Award for best orchestral recording (for the first of three CD's of Shostakovich's Film Suites, with the Belgian Radio Orchestra), Audiphile Magazine's award for Best Orchestral Recording for his rendition of Scheherazade with the London Philharmonic, and many others. 

Serebrier was 22 years old when Leopold Stokowski named him Associate Conductor of the newly formed American Symphony Orchestra in New York, a post he held for five years. Previously, Serebrier was the Minnesota Orchestra's Apprentice Conductor, with Antal Dorati, for two seasons. Serebrier made his New York conducting debut with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1965 with wide critical acclaim. Running like a theme through the reviews was an awareness of his intense, dynamic approach to music and his superb control of the orchestra. 

Serebrier's association with Stokowski goes back to 1957, when the two came together through a dramatic turn of events. It was in that year while conducting the Houston Symphony, that the maestro planned to premiere the difficult Symphony No. 4 by Ives. But the music still proved too difficult and complex for the orchestra, and Stokowski began to search for a new and interesting work that he could premiere instead, as a last minute replacement for the Ives Fourth. He found and chose Serebrier's Symphony No. 1, written by the then 17-year-old student at the Curtis Institute of Music, who had just arrived in the United States. The occasion of the concert was their first meeting. Eight years later the "unplayable" Ives Fourth Symphony finally had its premiere with Stokowski conducting the American Symphony at Carnegie Hall. Standing on another podium next to Stokowski, one of the three conductors necessary for the rhythmic complexities of the work, was José Serebrier. A few years later Serebrier would perform and record the symphony with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on his own, without the assistance of other conductors. His RCA recording is considered a landmark. High Fidelity called it "one of the best recordings ever made." It won a Grammy nomination and it received numerous awards around the world. 

Leopold Stokowski conducted the first New York performance of Serebrier's Elegy for Strings in 1962 at Carnegie Hall, and in 1963 Stokowski opened the American Symphony Orchestra season at Carnegie Hall with the premiere of the composer's Poema Elegiaco (originally entitled "Funeral March", the second movement of Partita) 

The Louisville Orchestra recorded Serebrier's Partita. In his review, Alfred Frankenstein writing for High Fidelity Magazine, hailed Serebrier as "the logical successor to the crown of Villa-Lobos, and the South American to watch." 

For the 1968-69 and 69-70 seasons, George Szell named José Serebrier Composer-in-Residence of the Cleveland Orchestra under a special grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. While in that position, he wrote a harp concerto entitled Colores Magicos for the Inter American Music Festival in Washington. It combined light and sound and it tempted Irving Lowens to write: "Despite the use of such fashionable devices as tone-rows (the composer says that the work is based on a row of 10 notes, and if he wants it that way, so be it, even though I couldn't perceive the serial organization with my ears), tone-clusters, tone-clouds . . . Serebrier, a first-rate conductor, uses orchestral colors in much the same way as a child uses finger-paints. He lays about him with a fine fury, and achieves something of the stagey horror of a tale by Edgar Allan Poe. Of the 15 new works I heard during the course of the festival, I'd rank Colores Magicos among the best... its advanced techniques don't get on its way. Doubtless it will be heard-and seen-again; it deserves to be." 

Shortly after, Serebrier wrote another multi-media work, Nueve, a concerto for double bass and orchestra, commissioned for the double bass virtuoso Gary Karr. Serebrier and Karr have performed this concerto all over the world. Serebrier has also written concertos for accordion and orchestra (commissioned by the American Accordionists Association), trombone, violin and others. He has composed several works for percussion ensembles. The Symphony for Percussion was recorded by John Elliott Gardiner. 

Serebrier's Violin Concerto Winter was premiered at Lincoln Center in New York in 1995 to wide critical acclaim, and has since been performed in London (Philharmonia Orchestra), Madrid (National Symphony), and many other cities around the world. Other recent published works include Dorothy & Carmine! for flute and chamber orchestra, At Dusk, in Shadows for solo flute; Night Cry for brass ensemble, George & Muriel for double bass and chorus, Tango in Blue (Tango en Azul) in various versions for orchestra, string orchestra, string quartet, violin and piano, etc., Casi un Tango (Almost a Tango) for English horn and strings (all published by Peer Music); Carmen Symphony (winner of the 2004 Latin GRAMMY) after Bizet, published by Kalmus in its orchestral version, and by Hal Lenard in its version for concert band; orchestrations of Gershwin's Three Preludes and Lullaby, commissioned by the Gershwin family for Gershwin's 100th anniversary (published by Warner Music), orchestrations of 14 Songs by Grieg (published by Peters Edition), and the Symphonic Synthesis of the opera The Makropulos Case, published by Universal Edition Vienna. 

-Based on articles by Oliver Daniel 

© By Broadcast Music Inc. (used by permission)

The story of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is colourful and dramatic with a reputation worldwide for music-making of the highest quality. In 1946, Sir Thomas Beecham set out to create a world-class ensemble from the finest musicians in the country. Beecham envisioned an orchestra that would bring the greatest music to audiences across the world and, to this day, Beecham's legacy lives on. Over the years, the RPO has become a byword for exceptional quality and versatility, undertaking a diverse range of activities from traditional concerts in concert halls to classical spectaculars and ‘cross-over' concerts in arenas. The Orchestra is London-based and performs regularly at the Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall and Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, as well as undertaking a busy schedule of UK concerts, international tours, recordings for CD, film and television, and community and education work.

The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (RPCO) was formed in 1987 and has built up an international reputation in its own right. Performing in the major concert halls and concert venues in the UK and around the world, from China and the Far East to North and South America, the RPCO is known for its versatile programming of classical, light classical and popular music. The RPCO is regularly seen working with renowned artists in the worlds of classical music, pop music and the West End musicals. Recent appearances range from Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway for ITV and live performances to the screening of iconic films at the Royal Albert Hall, to an Elgar celebration concert in the composer's home town of Malvern and tours to destinations as far afield as Gabon, Russia and China.

Shelly Berg, Jose Serebrier, Royal Philharmonic

Gershwin Reimagined - An American in London

Decca GOLD

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1 Rhapsody in Blue with Jazz Variations (23:31)
2 An American in Paris / Home Blues (21:24)
3 I Loves You Porgy / My Man's Gone Now (7:21)
4 Fascinating Rhythm (3:22)
5 Three Preludes (7:25)
6 I Got Rhythm (12:40)
Gershwin Reimagined

Five-time Grammy-nominated pianist Shelly Berg, multi-Grammy-winning conductor José Serebrier & the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are joined by a group of legendary guest artists who have come together for the Universal /Decca Gold release Gershwin Reimagined – An American in London, set for a September 7, 2018 release. 

The landmark album, produced by eight-time Grammy Award recipient Gregg Field, features Grammy-winning artists Mark O'Connor and Arturo Sandoval, Grammy-nominated vocalists Monica Mancini and Ledisi and the Shelly Berg Trio. 

Crossover Media Projects with: Shelly Berg, Jose Serebrier, Royal Philharmonic