Tales: Duke Ellington

Posted on Oct 4th, 2012 in OSF Archives

With the recent production Ellington at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre and news that one Green Show will feature Ellington, it behooves me to mention that the man himself took the stage of our Elizabethan Theatre on June 5, 1966 to raise funds for the Angus Bowmer Theatre. The Revels!! launched our second quarter century and brought luminaries—and 150 reporters—to this fair city.

The two and one half hour concert included the brand new “Ad Lib on Nippon,” since the orchestra had just visited Japan, standards “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “I Let A Song Get Out of My Heart,” and “Mood Indigo,” and a special piece for us called “Such Sweet Thunder.” The Oregonian reported: “Antony and Cleopatra skimmed down the Nile in one regally exotic selection and, for ‘Madness and Great Ones,’ trumpeter Cat Anderson shrieked wildly while the rest of the trumpet section obsessively repeated two notes. It was intended to suggest Hamlet’s madness and it did. It was wailing with Willy the Shake.”

Two other items of note occurred at this concert: 1) a $500 annual scholarship to a theatre arts major at Southern Oregon College (now SOU) and named the Angus L. Bowmer Scholarship, and 2) Roger L. Stevens, chairman of the President’s Council on the Arts, said this: “Tell the airlines to run a few more planes in here so the travelers can make better connections and visit.”

Written originally for The Company Call, May 2005, by Kit Leary.