Wednesday, December 18th the Downtown Atrium was filled with guests during the lunch hour for a beautiful performance from Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s Jazz Ensemble. Sponsored by Travelers, this program was in conjunction with Musical Dialogues, a program through Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

This performance included holiday classics that the audience could surely hum and tap along to. Patrons came with a book, a smile or their lunch to sit and enjoy the hour long performance from the sextet. Edward Rozie led the ensemble which included himself on the bass, pianist-Walt Gwardyak, on drums-Gene Bozzi, on the saxophone-Bob Depalma, on trumpet-Scott McIntosh, and on the violin-Michael Pollard. The six together created beautiful harmonies, which you could see in their expressions, were a joy to play.

The audience was having fun too learning and dancing along to the jazz renditions of classic songs like “Christmas Time is Here” from Charlie Brown’s Christmas and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”. Children were walking overhead and stopped to point out the noise below and had their parents wait as they danced along to the tunes. People came from outside of Hartford to enjoy the orchestra’s performance. And patrons stopped what they were doing in the Library to come and close their eyes as they listened and swayed to the tunes.

Musical Dialogues is a unique series of free performances from Hartford Symphony Orchestra that not only provides musical performances to the public for free but provides the audience with an education on the style of music, their instruments, and mostly the songs themselves in this case. Before the ensemble played “I’ll be Home for Christmas” Rozie gave a kind acknowledgment to the veterans in the room and proceeded to explain how their next piece was originally written by Bing Crosby in 1943 to honor the veterans who were longing for home during the holidays. It was interesting facts like this that made the performance one of a kind and special to the audience. Seeing as the public already comes to the Library to read and learn, Musical Dialogues’ lessons were fitting as the performance gave folks the chance to learn about something familiar.

During this time of year it is commonplace to hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” over and over again in the car, at the mall, or even in the office. The jazz ensemble gave beauty to the songs that can be overplayed around this time and brought a real holiday spirit to the Library. It also sparked a discussion on the importance of music education in schools and in the community.

Following the performance, interested audience members stayed to engage in a talk on the importance of music education with Mitchell Korn. Symphony Magazine has called him, “a music education guru”, has taught at Yale, and is currently located at Vanderbelt College teaching at the Blair School of Music. His credibility on the topic informed the audience that Hartford’s music education system is not where it should be. The audience asked questions about what we can do as a community to improve upon this and he encouraged speaking out to superiors within the public school system. Korn informed the audience that children develop critical literacy skills from learning to read and play music; a single fact that should make music education mandatory.

Wednesday’s performance gave patrons and employees a nice break from the day to enjoy holiday classics played live by the orchestra. It was a treat to hear and was followed by an interesting and important discussion. The Library looks forward to future partnerships with Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

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