Nick Dobreff
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Colorado Symphony To Honor Legendary Bassist Charlie Burrell

“The Jackie Robinson of Classical Music” turns 99 on October 4, 2019

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Media Contact:   
Nick Dobreff, Manager of Publicity and Community Relations   
616.485.3913 (m) - 303.308.2477 (o)   
ndobreff@coloradosymphony.org 

*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***

COLORADO SYMPHONY TO HONOR LEGENDARY BASSIST CHARLIE BURRELL 
 “The Jackie Robinson of Classical Music” turns 99 on October 4, 2019

September 19, 2019 – Denver, CO – The Colorado Symphony will celebrate the 99th birthday of legendary double bassist Charles “Charlie” Burrell on October 4, 2019 during their performance of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, commemorating the 70th anniversary of his debut.  Burrell, who started his orchestral career with the then Denver Symphony in 1949, was the first African-American to receive a permanent contract with a major American symphony and is often referred to as “the Jackie Robinson of Classical Music”.

Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony has special relevance for Burrell as he first heard the piece via crystal radio at the age of 12 in 1932 as he dreamed of playing for an American symphony orchestra.

In 1959, Burrell left Denver for San Francisco where he was hired by the San Francisco Symphony, becoming the first African-American to play with them and soon thereafter had the opportunity to perform Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony.

After five-and-a-half years with the San Francisco Symphony, Burrell returned to Denver and embarked on a 30-year tenure with the Denver Symphony, retiring in 1999 at the age of 79.

In addition to his work in classical music, Burrell also enjoyed a renowned career as one of the best jazz bassists of his generation. He was the top on-call jazz bassist in Denver for more than 50 years and performed with legends including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Gene Harris, Ben Webster, and Sarah Vaughn. Additionally, Charlie launched the career of his niece, five-time Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves and taught the legendary pianist/composer George Duke at the San Francisco Conservatory.

Burrell’s career garnered numerous awards and accolades including:

• 2008: Received a Denver Mayor's award for excellence in Arts and Culture
• 2010: Congresswoman Diana DeGette led a tribute to him on the floor of the United States House of  Representatives in honor of his 90th birthday, referring to him as a "titan of the classical and jazz bass"
• 2011: Received the Martin Luther King Jr. humanitarian award
• 2017: Inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame
• 2019: The Alphonse Robinson African-American Music Association named the "Charles Burrell Award" after him 

Tickets are available online at coloradosymphony.org/tickets, by phone at 303.623.7876, and in person at the Boettcher Concert Hall Box Office, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1000 14th Street. The Box Office is open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 6 p.m.; and two hours prior to each performance.  

EVENT INFORMATION: 
What: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 conducted by Brett Mitchell
Where: Boettcher Concert Hall
When: FRI October 4, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Available at coloradosymphony.org/tickets

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CONTACTS:  
For more information or to request interviews, please contact:  
Nick Dobreff, Manager of Publicity and Community Relations  
ndobreff@coloradosymphony.org - 303.308.2477 (o) 

For high-resolution, downloadable images of the Colorado Symphony, contact: ndobreff@coloradosymphony.org 
 
The 2019/20 Colorado Symphony Season is presented by Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. Support also provided by: The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), 9News, United Airlines, the Colorado Symphony Guild, Arrow, Bank of America, and Macy’s, Inc.

TICKETS:  
Tickets to Colorado Symphony events are available online at coloradosymphony.org/tickets, by phone at 303.623.7876, and in person at the Boettcher Concert Hall Box Office, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1000 14th Street. The Box Office is open Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 6 p.m.; and two hours prior to each performance.

ABOUT THE COLORADO SYMPHONY
One of the leading orchestras in the United States, the Colorado Symphony Association is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization performing more than 150 concerts annually at Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver and across Colorado. Led by Music Director Brett Mitchell, the Colorado Symphony is home to eighty full-time musicians, representing more than a dozen nations, and regularly welcomes the most celebrated artists from the world of symphonic music and beyond. In the last year, the Colorado Symphony served nearly 233,000 people attending live performances at concert and non-traditional venues throughout Colorado’s Front Range. In addition, over 265,000 people listen to the Colorado Symphony through Colorado Public Radio’s live broadcasts of classical content featuring concert recordings, in-studio performances of individual musicians and small ensembles, and live streaming of interviews and performances with artists. Recognized as an incubator of innovation, creativity, and excellence, the Colorado Symphony continually expands its reach through education, outreach, and programming. The Colorado Symphony partners with the state’s leading musical artists, cultural organizations, corporations, foundations, sports teams, and individuals to expose diverse audiences to the transformative power of music. To learn more, visit coloradosymphony.org. 

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