Celebrating the city’s tri-centennial year, the bi-centennial of Congo Square, and the 50th anniversary of the Jazz & Heritage Festival, the musical heritage of New Orleans comes alive in this premiere concert.
New Orleans has long braved the strongly rooted social and racial boundaries of America, heralding a new musical era that included, among other things, the birth of jazz. This city’s musical imprint has simultaneously defined its community and stewarded its future, from the Native Americans of Louisiana to the Mardi Gras Indians, Congo Square to the Jazz & Heritage Festival, and piano geniuses Louis Moreau Gottschalk to James Booker.
Evan Christopher, “one of the world’s major clarinetists” (The Wall Street Journal ), leads this homage to the traditions that established New Orleans as ground zero of African and African-American culture in the United States. Don’t miss this exploration of the extraordinary language and diversity of New Orleans’ musical and cultural influences, a marriage of perspectives on the beloved Crescent City.
5 p.m. | Doors Open
7–8:30 p.m. | Concert
8:30–10:30 p.m. | Exhibition Viewing
NYBG Shop open until 9 p.m.
Non-Member $48 / Member $43
Summer Concert Series pass including all three concerts: Non-Member $129 / Member $114
Advance purchase recommended. Events are rain or shine.
“If there is a better living exponent of the New Orleans Creole clarinet style than Evan Christopher, then it’s a discovery I have yet to make.” -London Jazz News
Evan Christopher combines virtuosity, immaculate taste, and enthusiasm with a commitment to exploring the full range of possibilities in the New Orleans clarinet tradition. His highly personal brand of “contemporary, early jazz” strives to extend the legacies of early Creole clarinetists such as Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard and Omer Simeon. Critics remarking on Christopher’s dynamic expressiveness have coined his style “close-encounter music” (NEW YORK TIMES) and have called his respect for the music traditions of New Orleans, “a triumph, joining the present seamlessly to a glorious past.” (THE OBSERVER, UK).
His journey on Clarinet Road began in 1994, when he left his native California to join the New Orleans music community. Diverse freelance work included gigs with musicians such as Al Hirt and veterans of Preservation Hall to funk and brass bands including the Nightcrawlers and Galactic. But in 1996, he left for San Antonio, Texas to appear nightly for nearly three years with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band and record several of their public radio programs, Riverwalk: Live from the Landing.
When Christopher returned to New Orleans in 2001, his published research on the New Orleans clarinet style initiated pursuit of a Master’s degree in Musicology at Tulane University. He began touring internationally and producing his “Clarinet Road” series of CDs (STR Digital). In August 2005, when Federal levees failed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina decimating the city, Christopher left again for Paris at the invitation of the French Embassy’s Cultural Services division, where he formed his group, Django à la Créole. This Europe-based quartet fused Gypsy Swing with Latin-tinged grooves of New Orleans and beyond and was distinguished for an acoustic intimacy paired with driving swing. Critics charmed by the group queried, “Is there a more graceful band at work at the moment?” (THE SUNDAY TIMES UK). Three CDs for Lejazzetal (London), in partnership with Frémeaux & Associés (Paris)—Django à la Créole (2007), Finesse (2010), and LIVE! (2014)—earned the group critical attention worldwide for its elegant character.
As a composer, Christopher’s original songs are the high point of acclaimed recordings including Delta Bound (Arbors, 2007) featuring pianist Dick Hyman, The Remembering Song (Arbors, 2010) featuring guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, his clarinet feature on the Grammy-winning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s Book One (2012) and his latest Clarinet Road CD, Bayou Chant & Other Textures (STR Digital, 2016). In July 2010, he had the honor to debut his Treat It Gentle Suite with the Minnesota Orchestra, which was the first concerto written for clarinet with band in the New Orleans style.
Evan Christopher began his musical training on clarinet at age 11. In high school, he received the Louis Armstrong National Jazz Award and was one of the first graduates of the prestigious Idyllwild Arts Academy. He continued studies at the University of Southern California and graduated with honors from California State University, Long Beach. A brief teaching stint at the University of New Orleans saw the creation of a New Orleans music ensemble that performed with guest mentors such as Lucien Barbarin and Marcus Roberts.
Since 2008, having returned again to New Orleans, Christopher actively advocates for the cultural workforce and music education. He frequently tours with and records as a guest with forward-looking artists, while performances under his own name are often complemented by workshops and educational and community outreach. Occasional columns about the music scene and New Orleans culture for NolaVie.com, evidence his passion for the city’s indigenous traditions.
Reserve a table at Hudson Garden Grill before the show, order a gourmet picnic box online to pick up and enjoy during the performance, or stop in at any one of several other dining options available during Summer Concert Evenings at the Garden.
Hudson Garden Grill
Enjoy a pre-concert dinner at the Hudson Garden Grill by reserving on OpenTable.com. Last reservation is at 5:30 p.m.
Gourmet Picnic Box
Featuring selections for two from STARR Events, these picnic boxes are the perfect addition to your NYBG visit. Beginning May 1, reserve online and pick them up before the performance to enjoy on the Conservatory Lawn.
Food Trucks, Cantina, and Seasonal Bars
Stop by the Visitor Center for treats from the food truck, beer, wine, and seasonal drink specials, assorted beverages, snacks, and more.