Professor composes for CDA Symphony

Music professor Brent Edstrom’s original composition “Concerto #2 for Jazz Piano & Orchestra” will be featured the first weekend of May at the Coeur d’Alene Symphony’s season finale concert. Joining Edstrom, who will play piano, is Philip Baldwin on violin. Baldwin is the Whitworth Orchestra director and violin professor. Additionally, three Whitworth students will play instruments: senior Timothy Angel, junior Rachel Means and freshman Haley Kovach.

Courtesy of Coeur d’Alene Symphony Brent Edstrom, Whitworth professor of music, composed “Concerto #2 for Jazz Piano & Orchestra” that he will play with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony May 4.

The concert will host a full orchestra complementing a jazz trio, and both groups will work together with a bit of improvisation.

“Part of my inspiration for that [setup] was Bach, who wrote concerti grossi where there would be a core group of soloists in the midst of a larger orchestra,” Edstrom said.

Edstrom composed his piece when Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra director David Demand commissioned him to create an original concerto last spring. With little creative restrictions, Edstrom began his work sketching out his ideas during the summer.

“It can be a daunting process because, other than knowing an approximate length, there’s really no other parameters,” Edstrom said. “At some point, it occurred to me this idea about the baroque concerto and how maybe an approach using a core group of a trio [would be interesting].”

The concert by nature will be a fairly uncommon event, because it features a completely new piece of music.

“It’s really exciting when there is a new piece written because orchestras tend to play the same pieces over and over,” Baldwin said. “So when there is a new work it’s always exciting, especially when something is beautiful.”

The event partners Edstrom’s jazz concerto with Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the second musical piece to be featured at the concert.

“Most conductors don’t mix the two [styles of jazz and classical], although I personally feel like there’s not a lot of difference.” Edstrom said. “Jazz can be very artful music. To me it makes sense to program jazz and classical together.”

At Whitworth, Edstrom specializes in jazz, piano, composition, music theory and improvisation. His past original compositions include “and there was light,” a 14 minute piece, which  was performed by the Whitworth Symphony Orchestra and the Coeur d’Alene Symphony three years ago.

Part of the creative process for Edstrom’s “Concerto #2” included letting the piece flow in a way that came most naturally to him.

“I don’t really have a particular process when I compose,” Edstrom said. “A lot of it is just trying being open to the direction that the piece wants to go. It’s not always a linear process, so you don’t usually start with the first measure and finish several hundred pages later.”

Baldwin, who is also head violinist and assistant conductor with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra, said his involvement with the premiere is preparing the orchestra part of the performance. Baldwin said he looks forward to the concert because of Edstrom’s ability to write a piece that is a balanced fusion of jazz and classical.

“He’s a fantastic player,” Baldwin said. “So it’s a lot of fun to watch him do what he does.”

Tickets are available by calling the Symphony office, on the Coeur d’Alene Symphony’s website or at the door on performance nights.

Claire Hunter Staff Writer

Contact Claire Hunter at chunter15@my.whitworth.edu