On June 9th and June 10th, Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart and the world famous symphony orchestra explored the extraordinary musical legacies of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, whose nearly 30 years of creative collaboration helped to shape the sound and spirit of American music as we know it today. Trailblazing American pianist Lara Downes shared the world premiere of “The Strayhorn Concerto”, built on three of Strayhorn’s most expressive songs — “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,” “Strange Feeling,” and “Something to Live For” — arranged by composer Chris Walden. Two-time Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell (Kiss Me, KateRagtimeShuffle AlongMan of La Mancha) bought his rich voice and captivating performance style to this wonderful American music also.

An added bonus was the attendance of Strayhorn family member and great niece Leah Morris, pictured with Lara Downes and Keith Lockhart backstage. Lara will continue to play the ‘The Strayhorn Concerto’ with several symphony orchestras across the United States in 2022.

Photo: Pianist Lara Downes, Strayhorn great niece Leah Morris and conductor Keith Lockhart.

Andrew Esch is a Philadelphia residing trumpeter from Hillsborough, North Carolina. Before attending Temple University, he played in many ensembles and traveled with bands under the direction of prolific North Carolina based musicians such as Greg Gelb, Stephen Anderson Thomas Heflin, Brandon Lee, Frank Bongiorno, and Jim Ketch. He has also been playing with the Temple University Jazz Band since  2019, playing at venues across the United States at the Midwest Jazz festival, Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival, and Jack Rudin Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Andrew has written many four-part jazz arrangements for Temple’s trumpet ensemble with compositions from the likes of Jimmy Van Heusen and Ben Webster. His most notable musical influences are Louis Armstrong, Fats Navarro, Thad Jones, Clifford Brown, and Dizzy Gillespie.

Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc. and the Billy Strayhorn Foundation congratulate and celebrate the selection of Andrew from the Boyer School of Music and Dance Jazz Studies program at Temple University. Continued success Andrew in all of your musical endeavors!