City Social Magazine

MAR-APR 2018

City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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16 By Rosalind Tuminello R E A D U S o N L I N E A T W W W . C I T Y S o C I A L . C o M 16 o n the evening of March 16th, at 8 p.m., the house lights in the Baton Rouge River Center Theater for Performing Arts will dim, with only the glint- ing rays from the stage lights revealing the bright cluster of shining brass— trumpet, trombone and saxophone—poised to wow with its bold sounds from an iconic and acclaimed musical group. The fabulous, signature horns will begin the thrilling intro to one of its most requested pieces, as wood- winds, drums, guitar, flute, keyboard and great vocalists join the spotlight. The audience bristles with excitement, in anticipation of an unforgettable evening in the company of the legendary, ever-popular group of superb musicians whose name is as grand as the city its members hail from— Chicago. As the title of one of its most requested mega-hits suggests, it certainly will "Make Me Smile." Chicago "Make Me Smile" Irene W. and C. B. Pennington Foundation Great Performers in Concert Series Celebrating 15 Years Presents In 1967, a group of young college guys from the Windy City combined their talents and introduced the musical world to a new phenomenon of sound. Lee Loughnane, one of the band's original 4 members, brings his excellence on the trumpet and superb performance as a vocalist to the group; he has been playing music since he was 11 years old and has no plans to stop yet. "The band is doing great!" he exclaimed. We all met in college and have been performing ever since, with some new members joining and others leaving; we are all from Chicago, thus the name," said the former DePaul University student. And now they've come to Baton Rouge. "This is not our first venture into your great city and we can promise that everyone will be pleased with the show," he said, sincerely. With a chuckle, he added, "you can bet your boots, we'll be looking for that great food you people are so famous for!" Chicago's resumé is boundless and boasts of top-selling albums, including its first album, "Chicago Transit Authority." The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014, the same year that the band performed on the Grammy stage for the first time. An endless list of major hits can be attributed to the unique sounds featured on the album. In 2016, the band was honored once again by being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; it was their first nomination, no less. For over 50 years, Chicago's successful career of touring and thrilling lovers of superb rock 'n' roll has never diminished. Also responsible for making music-lovers smile for years is the Irene W. and C. B. Pennington Foundation, Great Performers in Concert Series; it does so by inviting outstanding musical artists to the Capital City. Celebrated performers like classical soprano Audra McDonald and opera star Renée Fleming, as well as the genius Yo-Yo Ma and renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman have been welcomed to this series. The master of romantic ballads, Johnny Mathis and the delightful Kristin Chenoweth have likewise graced the stage of the Baton Rouge River Center Theater for Performing Arts, along with the illustrious Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra (BRSO) under the direction of its incomparable conductor, Timothy Muffitt. The acclaimed Irene W. and C. B. Pennington Foundation Great Performers in Concert Series was a result of a casual conversation in 2002 between Paula Pennington de la Bretonne and Johnny Tate, both long-time supporters of the Baton Rouge community, as well as its economic and social well-being. The two friends found that they shared a vision that Baton Rouge would be well-served by bringing a program of world-class music to the city; this belief was born of their lifelong experiences with music and art, including Paula's talent for piano and dance, and Johnny's skill on the French horn and former position as a band member. Sharing their vision and experience is Diane Tate—Johnny's wife— who brings her own expertise with the oboe and knowledge of music and art as a former band member. By 2002, Baton Rouge had made the transition into the 21st century with confidence and a growing population; the timing was right for Baton Rouge to take its place alongside other cities that were expanding their cultural initiatives and to launch a long-overdue project like Great Performers. They subsequently established the series, with Paula taking on the role of Honorary Chair for the series—a title established in honor of her grandparents. Johnny and Diane became co-chairs—a fitting role as the pair both had a finger on the pulse of the city, as well as first-hand knowledge of patrons longing for good music. Through the trio's tireless efforts, the Great Performers Series evolved from a vision into a reality. The Great Performers in Concert Series has always included artists befitting the title of "Great Performer." "We knew this event would benefit the BRSO and should be deemed more than a concert; it deserved to be a gala," said Diane. "With challenging work and Paula's passion, a steering committee like no other, our incredible orchestra and unwavering sponsors, the Great Performer in Concert Series can continue as one of Baton Rouge's most-beloved annual events," she added. Paula further explained how performers are chosen for the series: "We love Baton Rouge and we love music, it's that simple. We want to showcase the amazing talents of our hometown symphony to as diverse an audience as we can reach." She goes on, "…prior to each concert, Johnny, Diane, Maestro Timothy Muffitt and I brainstorm potential artists to feature in the series. We listen to performers, debate and, ultimately, try to choose individuals or groups that traditional symphony-goers will enjoy and which will intrigue non-traditional symphony-goers. From classical to rock with Broadway in-between, we want to continue to bring that level of music to our area." BRSO's Timothy Muffitt reflects on the opinion of everyone in the Capital City about the upcoming appearance of Chicago, stating: "We are so thrilled to be sharing Chicago with our audience. They are "Great Performers" in every sense of the term, and we know they will deliver. These musicians are unique, extraordinary and still in top form after decades of making hits. They are a great addition to the remarkable roster of artists this series will bring to our city." Photo by John Honoré and Peter C. Pardini Photo by EyeWander Photo

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