SOURCE: Christian Howes Strings Productions

Christian Howes Strings Productions

July 04, 2014 08:05 ET

Jazz Violinist Christian Howes and Conductor Douglas Droste Represent America in Ukraine With Jazz/Orchestral Diplomacy Mission

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwired - Jul 4, 2014) - When jazz violinist Christian Howes and conductor Douglas Droste recently joined forces to perform Scott Routenberg's Concerto for Jazz Violin with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, they had no idea they would be asked by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy to Ukraine to bring their music overseas as part of a continuing American cultural exchange with the Eastern European country.

An online video of their Muncie performance caught the eye of cultural affairs staff at the U.S. Embassy and resulted in the surprise invitation, giving the musicians the opportunity to represent America in Ukraine for six days of rehearsals, performances and workshops June 17-23.

Childhood friends, Columbus, Ohio natives and Ohio State University graduates, Howes and Droste performed in Lviv, Ukraine on June 21, in the historic Lviv Philharmonic Concert Hall with the INSO-Lviv Academic Symphony Orchestra. The INSO-Lviv orchestra is part of the Lviv Philharmonic organization, which was founded in 1902, and since that time has hosted performances by world-renowned musicians and composers such as Strauss, Mahler, Bartok and Rubinstein.

The concert program, conducted by Droste, fused both jazz and classical music, united by a single theme -- music of the "New World." The Concerto for Jazz Violin was joined with Bernstein's Candide Overture and Dvorak's New World Symphony. The program also featured other orchestral jazz crossover pieces highlighting Howes. The cultural/historical organization Pidhirtski Castle Foundation helped facilitate all their arrangements in Lviv with the INSO Lviv Orchestra.

U.S. Embassy's Cultural Attache, Andrew Paul, in his public remarks opening the concert June 21 in Lviv Philharmonic Hall, said that it is important to continue American "cultural diplomacy in Ukraine during this time of crisis.

"Christian Howes and Douglas Droste were willing to travel on short notice to make this program happen," Paul explained. "One of the reasons we invited our American performers was because of the 'Concerto for Jazz Violin' by Scott Routenberg. The piece is groundbreaking with the use of improvised violin solos. In addition, its composer has family roots in Western Ukraine; and his wife is from Lviv."

"We are extremely honored to have been invited," reflects Howes, "and it was a tremendous thrill to share our artistic styles with very enthusiastic Ukrainian audiences and musicians."

The cultural exchange and engagement trip in the Ukraine also featured Howes teaching improvisation workshops to string players in Lviv and Kyiv, while presenting two additional high-profile concerts in collaboration with jazz musicians in both cities. The "Jazz in Kyiv" organizers helped arrange Howes' concert held in the capital city Kyiv. Droste also led a conducting master-class with four young Ukrainian conductors.

"It was all about promoting U.S. goodwill," concludes Droste. "Amidst the unrest, we were able to provide a small sense of hope through our residency, supporting the U.S. Embassy's overall peaceful mission."

For more on the cultural exchange, visit: http://www.christianhowes.com.

About Douglas Droste
Conductor Douglas Droste, is Artistic Director of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra and Director of Orchestras at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. He frequently guest conducts throughout the country for professional and youth orchestras, and is active as a clinician for educational programs. For more information on Droste, visit Muncie Symphony Orchestra and http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/collegesanddepartments/music/directory/ensemblesandconducting/drostedouglas, or connect with him on Facebook.

About Christian Howes
As an educator, performer and composer, jazz violinist Christian Howes has gained notoriety and respect from critics and fellow musicians alike. Recently voted #1 in the Downbeat Critics Poll ("Rising Stars/Violin"), the Minneapolis Tribune called Christian "arguably the most intriguing young violinist in jazz." His recent release on Resonance Records, "Southern Exposure" earned recognition in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Downbeat, Jazz Times, as well as a six-night run at Lincoln Center in April, 2013. Howes is the founder of the Creative Strings Academy, an online school which boasts the largest enrollment worldwide of string players studying jazz and improvised music. He endorses Yamaha violins and D'Addario strings. Connect with Christian at his official website -- www.christianhowes.com -- as well as on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and SoundCloud.

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