— WILLIAMSPORT — On Saturday the Community Arts Center in Williamsport will be rocking in a new way as the Uptown Music Collective and the recently formed Lycoming College Community Orchestra bring their first collaboration, “On and On: The Legacy of R&B,” to the stage.
This one-night-only performance will center around the modern heritage of the rhythm and blues sound, featuring music from modern R&B artists like The Roots, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Macy Gray, Frank Ocean, Aloe Blacc and more. The performance will feature more than 25 performers from the Uptown Music Collective, taking the stage alongside the 40 members of the Lycoming College Community Orchestra.
Rhythm and Blues was an umbrella term created in the 1940s by the music industry to describe music made by, and created for African-Americans. The style, like most, grew from earlier popular styles, including Swing, Big Band and the Blues, and was mixed in the great American melting pot with a big helping of Afro-Cuban rhythms, and a Gospel backbeat.
In the 1950s this infectious style eventually spawned rock and roll.
Since those early days, Rhythm and Blues has continued to grow, change and to spark other genres, many of which have taken on a life of their own, like Soul, Funk, Disco, Ska, Reggae and Rap.
“So much modern music comes from the cradle of Rhythm and Blues,” said Uptown Music Collective’s Executive Director Dave Brumbaugh. “For a young musician today, it is so important that they get in touch with the roots of their music, master the rhythms, harmonies and passionate vocal performances of the ground breaking styles and through a deep understanding of them, move the music forward. Through our performance programs we dish out healthy portions of R&B, Blues and Jazz to our students on a regular basis and by the time they leave the Collective, most speak the language fluently.”
To further bring this music to life the Uptown Music Collective will be teaming up with Lycoming College Music Department Chair William Ciabattari and his colleague, Riana Muller and their relatively new group, the Lycoming College Community Orchestra. “We wanted to create an ensemble that filled the needs of two groups of people, our students and the community,” said Ciabattari. “As we saw it, there were not a lot of opportunities for adult amateur string players to play in an orchestra, nor was there an opportunity for our own students to do so. We spent about a year building the framework, and we rolled out our first ensemble last fall. Our inaugural concert last November was a great success. We are looking to build on that success with this amazing opportunity to make music with the Uptown Music Collective.”
On and On will feature Collective performers between 9 and 18 years of age who have been preparing for this event. Along with the live music, there will be a professional grade light and sound show organized by the students themselves. As with all Uptown Music Collective performances, the students are not only the performers, but also direct the show. There is also a group of younger students, called “tech monkeys,” who will serve as stage technicians, spot light operators and video operators. Haley Miller (WAHS) is the student director for this performance. The student leadership committee for this show is made up of Shelby Lynch (Montgomery High School), Brennan Hepler (Loyalsock Township High School), Kira Crissinger (Milton High School), Janaya Daniele (St. John Neumann Regional Academy), Morgan Patterson (Montgomery High School), Gianna Rockoff (Loyalsock Township High School), and AJ Robbins (Loyalsock Township High School).
Additional sponsors for this event include Culligan Water Conditioning of Lewisburg and M&M Sheet Metal.