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French composer Souriau returns to MIT

French pianist and composer Magali Souriau, called "one of the most original orchestral jazz composers of our time" by Ben Ratliff of the New York Times, will co-conduct and perform with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (FJE) on Friday, March 9 at 8 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. The concert will feature some of her own works, including the premiere of the jazz ensemble version of her trio, "The Lady with the Hat." The ensemble will also perform music of Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington and Thad Jones.

Although Souriau, composer-in-residence in the music section from March 6 through 9, rarely appears in Boston, this is not her first visit to MIT. In 2000 she conducted a work she composed for FJE in honor the 70th birthday of the group's founder, Herb Pomeroy, with whom she studied at Berklee College of Music. In 2001, she participated in the ensemble's Thelonious Monk Tribute Concert, and in 2002 she returned to direct the FJE for half a term.

"All of her interactions with MIT students have been outstanding," said Frederick Harris, Jr., director of MIT's Wind Ensembles, who invited her back to work with the group's current membership, none of whom had previously studied with her.

"The last time I came to MIT I had an absolutely delightful time," said Souriau, who expects to repeat the experience of "sharing something really intense and working very hard." Souriau is also eager to hear, for the first time, not only her expanded orchestration of "The Lady with the Hat" but also, her arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," which she wrote 15 years ago. "Lush" has not been performed before because the artist who commissioned the composition (Clifford Jordan) died suddenly.

Tickets are $5 at the door or from

Souriau, who won the International Association of Jazz Educators' Gil Evans Fellowship in big band composition, leads her own jazz orchestra at a variety of jazz venues in New York City and has composed, arranged, and conducted for the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Big Van, directed by Guillermo Klein, and The Clifford Jordan Big Band. Her second CD, "Petite Promenade," featuring her trio, was released by Fresh Sound Records in 2004.

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