Music Foundation Presents Two Jazz Concerts In Hendersonville, NC

Whether you like your jazz straight up or with a twist, there will be jazz aplenty at the Hendersonville Community Theatre Friday and Saturday, Jan. 12 and 13, when the Music Foundation of Western North Carolina (MFWNC) presents “New Orleans Baroque” and “Jazz Standards.” Both concerts start at 7 p.m. and benefit the Theatre’s building renovations and programming.

On Friday night, the “New Orleans Baroque” concert will be a heady mix of jazz and classical Baroque music performed by flutist Rita Hayes, double bass player Keith Freeburg, drummer Morgen Cobb, and pianist Dr. John Cobb. “This concert will be a unique blending of different music genres,” MFWNC founder Joann Freeburg said. “The musicians are a tight group of local performers who have come up with a program of music that will deliver the best of both worlds in some very interesting ways. You’ll be surprised at how they have fused American jazz and European Baroque. It’s classical music with a jazzy twist.”

On Saturday night, the “Jazz Standards” concert will present the music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. It will be performed by pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and vibraphonist Jason DeCristofaro. “This concert will be for the jazz purists,” Freeburg said. “These master musicians will salute the great American jazz composers. You’ll be sure to recognize these tunes and appreciate the musicians’ dedication to established quality.”

Tickets to each concert are $35 and can be purchased online at The theatre is located at 229 S. Washington Street in downtown Hendersonville.
The Music Foundation of Western North Carolina is a non-profit organization dedicated to uniting, promoting, and building the presence of the musical arts in the Carolinas. It was founded by Joann Freeburg.

As the Official Community Theatre of Hendersonville, Hendersonville Community Theatre, Inc. is a non-profit, non-professional, wholly volunteer organization of theater-lovers. Its purpose is to enrich the lives of neighbors by providing high quality productions of excellent theatrical works to the broadest possible audience in Hendersonville, all of Western North Carolina, and Upstate South Carolina. The money raised by these concerts will be used for the building’s renovations, windows, and dressing rooms, as well as theatrical programming and arts education initiatives.

Hayes plays flutes, hammered dulcimer, and is a vocalist. She received her bachelor’s degree in music from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and her master’s degree in music from Western Carolina University. She has been a member of the Asheville Symphony for more than 25 years. She serves on the faculty of Brevard College and Asheville Buncombe Technical College in addition to her private student teaching. For nearly 20 years she has hosted classical music programming on the National Public Radio affiliated Asheville station, WCQS. Performing with such music celebrities as Roberta Flack and Ray Charles has been the highlights of her musical career.

Freeburg is the founder and owner of Freeburg & Perzina Pianos in Hendersonville. Music has been Keith’s passion since he learned to play piano, guitar, and string bass as a child. He pursued bass and graduated from the University of Minnesota as a string major with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education.  After teaching orchestra for several years, he studied piano technology at McPhail School of the Arts in Minneapolis and began a full-time career in piano tuning, repair and rebuilding. For the past 31 years, he has been serving pianists primarily in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. He is a member of the Asheville Area Piano Forum and performs with the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and the Brevard Philharmonic. He serves as an elder and musician at his church.  He and his wife Joann Freeburg have two children and three grandchildren.

Cobb is a musician and teacher based out of North Carolina. He is the drummer for McKayla & The Differential and other groups. A native of Bernardsville, NJ, he currently lives in Asheville. “I play the drum set, and various other percussion instruments. Music is my life,” he said.

Dr. Cobb is an international performer and recording artist known for his broad interpretive range and technical command. The New York Times has praised his “solid technique, bronze tone and flexibility of interpretive style.” The Chicago Daily News commented, “the vibrations that filled the hall were less those of the piano than those of an exquisite musical mind.” Dr. Cobb has been presented by Artists International on their Distinguished Artists series in New York City and has made recordings of 20th Century as well as early piano music on original instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Dr. Cobb has performed internationally some of the most important works of contemporary music and has worked directly with many of the most influential composers of this era, such as Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss. While completing a Doctor of Music degree at Northwestern University, Dr. Cobb held a fellowship at the University of Chicago, where he pursued doctoral studies in musicology and held the position of staff pianist with Ralph Shapey’s Contemporary Chamber Players. He continues to perform a broad repertoire of chamber music and has collaborated with renowned artists such as Joel Smirnoff, former first violinist with the Juilliard String Quartet, and most recently with Jason Posnock, concertmaster of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra. Among Dr. Cobb’s orchestral appearances is a performance of the Samuel Barber Piano Concerto with the Asheville Symphony. As a frequent performer on the Piano Forte concert series at the Asheville Art Museum, Dr. Cobb celebrated Franz Liszt’s bicentennial with an all-Liszt solo program during the summer of 2011. Dr. Cobb is a direct musical descendant of Liszt through his teacher, pianist Claudio Arrau, whose teacher was a pupil of Liszt. He presents master classes on piano technique and literature, and frequently serves as an adjudicator for competitions and music festivals. Dr. Cobb maintains private studios in Fairview and Hendersonville.

Over the past 40 years pianist/composer Stevens has been associated with some of the most important figures in modern jazz. Beginning with his first CD release in 1991 as a member of Mark Whitecage’s Liquid Time Group, Stevens has been in the forefront of the NYC and international improvised music scene. Between 1988 and 1990 he co-led the now legendary “Mosaic Sextet” with Dave Douglas. This group included Mark Feldman on violin, Michael Rabinowitz on bassoon, and the rhythm section of Harvey Sorgen on drums and Joe Fonda on bass. Their “Today This Moment” CD release on Konnex Records and re-release on GM Recordings is considered one of the classic modern jazz recordings of the 1990s and was voted one of the best 1000 jazz recordings by the 2011 Penguin Guide to Jazz. This rhythm section went on to become the nucleus for the Fonda/Stevens Group. Since the quartet’s inception in 1992, the Fonda/Stevens Group has released 14 CDS, repeatedly toured Europe and is one of the most successful working modern jazz groups on the international scene. Stevens also began a very fruitful and fulfilling relationship with Leo Records with his duo “Haiku” CD release in 1994, featuring Mark Feldman on violin. These piano/violin improvisations proved to be a pivotal link between Stevens’ work in both the composed and improvised music worlds. Stevens has currently released nine CDS on Leo Records, including “Elements” with bassist Dominic Duval, and “Twelve Improvisations” with the Fonda/Stevens Group. To date he has released more than 90 CDS. In 2016 he was voted “Best Composer” in Western North Carolina by the readers of the Mountain Xpress and received a “Regional Project Artist Grant” from the Toe River Arts Council. He currently resides in Black Mountain, NC.

DeCristofaro is an active musician and composer, performing primarily as a vibraphonist. In 2011, he was selected as the winner of the Yamaha/Percussive Arts Society international competition for jazz vibraphonists, and his musical compositions have been performed in China, New Zealand, Sweden, and throughout the United States. DeCristofaro is currently adjunct music faculty at Warren Wilson College, where he directs the Jazz Ensemble and teaches courses in Jazz Theory and Improvisation, Jazz History, and World Music, and A-B Tech, where he teaches Jazz History and Music Appreciation. He also teaches Jazz Theory and Improvisation, Percussion, Piano, Composition, and Music Theory privately at Crushed Leaf Studios in Mills River, NC. Since 2012, Jason has been the musical director and host of Jazz Night at the Phoenix, a weekly showcase at the Phoenix in downtown Brevard.


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