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Duke Ellington still rules at Sacred Concert – University of Reading

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Duke Ellington still rules at Sacred Concert

Release Date 27 June 2006

For one night only, rarely performed music by jazz master Duke Ellington came to the 3Sixty Club at the University Students' Union on Friday 23 June. Reading University Chorus, partnered by star local big band Pendulum Jazz Orchestra, presented selections from Ellington's 'Sacred Concerts', and it proved to be a magical evening for performers and audience alike. A tight, slick first half set from Pendulum, directed by Patrick Kelly, was greeted with cheers from the substantial crowd gathered for the event. After the interval, the performers were joined by baritone soloist Peter Churchill and tap dancer Will Gaines for eight numbers from the Sacred Concerts. The music, ambitious and wideranging in scope, was described by the deeply religious Ellington as "the most important thing I have done". Important it may be, but solemn it ain't and from the unaccompanied 'Will You Be There', to the raise the roof finale 'Praise God and Dance', the music had all the energy, joy and characteristic swing that Ellington will always be remembered for. The performers were borne along by the spirit of the Duke and produced an account that simply swept all before it. Exemplified by the hugely charismatic Will Gaines who, at 78 and having danced the piece with Ellington himself, brought the house down with the showpiece 'David Danced'. On a memorable summer night, the curtain was rung down on the University's 80th Anniversary and on the first year of the new Music@Reading, auguring Many Happy Returns for both. end

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