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The music that made Paris famous

Just as spooky sounds are used to tell scary ghost stories, musicians can tell stories using the sounds of their instruments. The music creates pictures in the mind that can evoke images of various scenes, moods and even people — all without using words.

Trumpet player Dan Kocurek and pianist Christine Eggert present a music program titled "American in Paris" that tells a compelling story and allows listeners to watch a movie in their minds as the music unfolds. The narrative element engages the audience on multiple levels, making the music more accessible.

In the story, Kocurek is the American and narrator and Eggert represents the beautiful Parisian. As the story unwinds, the duo perform wonderful music by Debussy, Gershwin, Stravinsky and Piazzolla, as well as some provocative cabaret songs and music made famous by singer Edith Piaf. Their jazz and cafe music repertoire is from the legends who visited and worked in Paris during the '20s, as well as charming — and disarming — music that made it big on the radio and on stage.

Kocurek and Eggert will present "American in Paris" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, in the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Tickets cost $10, $5 for seniors, and can be purchased at the Performing Arts box office in the Music Building lobby. The box office is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and two hours before performances. Tickets also can be purchased online at sou.edu/performingarts or by calling 541-552-6348. Discounts are available to SOU alumni, participants of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and SNAP/Oregon Trail Card holders. Full-time students get in free.

“My favorite part of performing ‘American in Paris’ is the reactions we get from the audience,” Kocurek says. “After every performance, audience members tell me how it made them feel. Many people have told me it made them recall their last trip to France, or that it transported them straight to Paris.”

Kocurek leads the trumpet studio in the music program at SOU, along with the Southern Oregon Jazz Ensemble and SOU Raider Band. Eggert teaches piano and theory courses at SOU. Les deux, they have been called a “musical powerhouse” whose programs are “musically provocative, presented with charm and a deliciously human touch.”

Pianist Christine Eggert and trumpet player Dan Kocurek present a music program titled 'American in Paris.' Photo courtesy of SOU