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QSO’s ‘New Sounds’ fuses symphony with Greek jazz

Come be a part of music history in the making Feb. 21 when the Queens Symphony Orchestra performs a world premiere work by Greek jazz fusion guitarist Spiros Exaras, creating what the orchestra’s maestro says is an entirely genre of music, never before performed.

“It is one of the most exciting projects I have worked on in a long time,” said Maestro Constantine Kitsopoulos, current music director for the Queens Symphony Orchestra.

This project, entitled “New Sounds,” is the second concert in the Queens Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks concert series “Bernstein and Friends,” a season of music devoted to the 90th birthday of celebrated American composer Leonard Bernstein. Prior to the concert at 7:30 p.m., in which QSO will also present works by composers Benjamin Britten and Igor Stravinsky. will be an installment in Kitsopoulos’ lecture series at 6:30 p.m.

Maestro Kitsopoulos conceived of the project “New Sounds” when listening to the Greek−American radio program Cosmos FM and hearing Spiros Exaras’ most recent album “Phrygianics,” in which he also created an entirely new genre of music thusly titled.

“I thought, take this a step further and combine it with the Queens Orchestra, which nobody has ever done before,” says Kitsopoulos. “We are combining traditional symphonic with things not usually combined with orchestra. We are very committed to new musical genres.”

Along with the QSO and Spiros Exaras will be the Spiros Exaras World−Jazz Ensemble, composed of seven members playing everything from bass, drums and keyboards to Greek clarinet. A total of around 50 people will be on stage performing.

Exaras was born and raised in Greece, studying classical guitar and music composition at the Athens Conservatory of Music. It wasn’t until 1992 that he moved to New York and pursued his jazz dream. Eight years later, he conceived a new genre in music.

“I always like to mix up things,” says Exaras. “I’m a fusion artist, meaning I always like to fuse styles of music together.”

The world premiere will feature six rearranged compositions from his album “Phrygianics” and new compositions as well. The idea to work together with the QSO happened through e−mail two years ago. “Maestro (Kitsopoulos) heard me on the radio and had the brilliant idea to contact me,” said Exaras. “We have been working intensely on the music for the past four or five months.”

The new compositions are all based on classical Greek myths. You will hear the orchestral jazz fusion tale of Orpheus and Eurydice; Daedalus and Icarus; Calypso, who imprisoned Odysseus; and Danae, who was impregnated by Zeus in the form of a golden rain shower and bore Perseus.

If You Go

Queens Symphony Orchestra: New Sounds

When: Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m.; pre−concert lecture at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Performing Arts Center at Queensborough Community College, 222−05 56th Ave., Bayside

Cost: Adults $25−$30; students⁄seniors $20; children (12 & under) $10; groups of 10 or more: 20% off; lecture series $5 (free to subscribers)

Contact: Advance tickets available at 718−326−4455, ext. 20

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