World premiere: ‘Ballad for Trayvon Martin’ at Princeton University

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The director of the jazz studies program at Princeton University has written a ballad for Trayvon Martin.

If you happen to be in the area, you can catch the world premiere of “Ballad for Trayvon Martin for Orchestra and Jazz Quartet” Thursday and Friday night at Richardson Auditorium on the Ivy League campus.

Tickets are just $15 (and $5 for students), reports The Star-Ledger.

The composer, Anthony D.J. Branker, said he was moved “to the core” by the death of Martin in February 2012.

Martin, a 17-year-old black teenager, was shot by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed-race Hispanic, in Sanford, Fla.

Branker, who founded Princeton’s jazz program 25 years ago, said the incident reminded him of an incident in his own life that occurred right after he graduated from the elite school.

“I was stopped by police at gunpoint because it was believed I broke into someone’s home,” he told The Star-Ledger. “I fit a profile. Police surrounded my car.”

Branker said the piece isn’t an angry musical screed. Noting that it incorporates a fugue and Brazilian style, he describes the jazz number as “a form of healing and something that could be seen as a composition of hope.”

“I see my role as an educator and composer and artist to not so much address historic events, but to touch the listener in some way, to make some sort of contact and relationship,” he added.

In addition to “Ballad for Trayvon,” the schedule of songs to be played by the Princeton University Orchestra and the University Concert Jazz Ensemble include Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, Beethoven’s “Egmont” overture and another world premiere, “Teatro di Strada” by American composer David Sanford.

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