Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra salutes Ella Fitzgerald |

Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra salutes Ella Fitzgerald

Special to the Daily
Special to the Daily |

If you go

What: “Strike Up the Band,” by Gershwin; “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and other Ella Fitzgerald favorites

When: 7:30-9:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 1

Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Cost: Tickets range from $7 to $40, with a discount for ages 18 and younger

More information: Call the Riverwalk box office at (970) 547-3100, or visit

Fans of Ella Fitzgerald, rejoice! The Breckenridge Music Festival is hosting an orchestral pops evening Saturday, Aug. 1, featuring the great jazz siren’s most memorable work, brought to life by vocalist Carmen Bradford and the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra. This program is a collaborative creation of guest conductor Michael Berkowitz and Bradford, who worked together to develop a night to highlight Bradford’s vocal prowess and to take you on a reminiscent trip through Fitzgerald’s finest tunes.

Bradford comes from a lineage of musical family members whose achievements influenced her path as a distinguished jazz singer. She is the daughter of inventive trumpeter Bobby Bradford and singer Melba Joyce and was exposed to a wide range of music growing up in southern California.

“Neither of my parents tried to steer me in any direction as to what music to listen to,” she said. “We were a middle-class household with all the craziness that kids of the ’60s and ’70s experienced. My father would practice in the bathroom mirror, and we went to his concerts. Mom’s gigs, too. But Motown was alive and well when I was growing up.”

Berkowitz explains that this program has special meaning to Bradford because she and Fitzgerald were very close. Prepare to hear a lot of love songs because Berkowitz and Bradford originally arranged the material for Valentine’s Day.

Singing with an orchestra is not a new feat for Bradford. She sang with the Count Basie Orchestra from 1982 to 1990. In fact, she dropped out of Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, when she was offered the coveted position as singer with Basie. In addition, Bradford has worked on recording and performance projects with Wynton Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, James Brown and Willie Nelson.

Collaborating conductor Berkowitz is the principal pops conductor of the Santa Rosa Symphony. He was the music director and conductor for Liza Minnelli on the Tony Award-winning “Lisa’s at the Palace” on Broadway, in concerts around the world and on PBS. Berkowitz was Marvin Hamlisch’s music director for nine years, appearing at the White House, the Academy Awards, with the London Symphony and with virtually every symphony in the United States. His acclaimed conducting technique, as well as his comfortable and humorous manner on the podium, has made him a favorite of audiences and orchestras throughout the United States and abroad.

For more information on the Breckenridge Music Festival’s Orchestra Pops Series, and other concerts and events, visit

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