Crane Professor to Premiere New Work with CNY Jazz Orchestra & Legendary Saxophonist David Liebman

Jazz Studies Director Bret Zvacek's Piece 'If a White Horse from Jerusalem' to Debut in Syracuse April 16

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Bret Zvacek discusses the musical inspiration behind "If a White Horse from Jerusalem."

POTSDAM, NY (04/07/2011)(readMedia)-- Bret Zvacek, a professor at SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music, will premiere a new composition in concert with the Central New York Jazz Orchestra and legendary saxophonist David Liebman next week.

David Liebman, a jazz icon who shot to fame with Miles Davis in the 1970s and was awarded the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award, is making a rare Syracuse appearance on April 15 and 16.

Zvacek, the director of the Jazz Studies Program at Crane, is also music director for CNY Jazz Orchestra. He'll present the world premiere of his new work, "If a White Horse from Jerusalem," at a concert with Liebman at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 in Carrier Theater, 411 Montgomery St., Syracuse.

Zvacek's commission for Liebman and the CNY Jazz Orchestra is inspired by a poem by Ada Aharoni, an Egyptian-born writer living in Israel. The piece is divided into four movements, and features Liebman performing Jewish and Arabic themes on soprano saxophone. The movements are entitled "Ahava Raba," "Allahu Allahu/Maqam Awj Ara," "Ki Lo Noeh/Maqam Saba," and "Present Tense."

The work incorporates scalar, rhythmic and harmonic material from both Jewish and Arabic traditions -- historic and modern -- in order to explore and resolve them. Although the source material is derived from specific cultural backgrounds, the piece is a jazz work, drawing on modern big band traditions and the unique, Coltrane-influenced voice of the soloist.

"I am struck by the timeliness of the commission, in light of current events in North Africa and the Middle East," said Larry Luttinger, executive director of the CNY Jazz Arts Foundation. "Bret has done an amazing job of combining strands of Jewish traditions with Arab and Middle Eastern music."

Zvacek will also participate in a panel discussion on jazz and culture alongside Liebman at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 15 in Lender Auditorium of the Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life at 102 Walnut Place in Syracuse. That event is free and open to the public.

In addition to "If a White Horse from Jerusalem," the program for the CNY Jazz Orchestra concert featuring Liebman will also include works by Liebman, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and others. Tickets are $19.50 to $27.50 and are available by calling the Oncenter Box Office at (315) 435-2121.

Zvacek produced a Youtube video explaining the musical inspiration for his new work, "If a White Horse from Jerusalem." It's available here:

To learn more about Jazz Studies at The Crane School of Music, visit


Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York's only All-Steinway institution, and is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2011.