Creative collaboration – Times-Standard
Jenny Scheinman’s musical roots were planted in Petrolia years ago, and since then she has become an acclaimed violinist.
The jazz virtuoso is set to perform Eddie Sauter’s iconic score, “Focus,” as a guest artist with the Eureka Symphony on Friday and Saturday, May 20 and 21 at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts, 412 G St. in Eureka. At 7 p.m. both nights, Scheinman will discuss his work with concertmaster Terrie Baune during a “Musical Notes” program. The “Alluring Influences” concert — which also includes the symphony playing “Symphony No. 1 in E Minor” by composer Florence Price — follows at 8 p.m.
Tickets range from $19 to $49, with student rush tickets (must show student ID) available at 7 p.m. at the door for $10. Tickets are available online at www.eurekasymphony.org or by calling the Eureka Symphony box office at 707-845-3655.
Scheinman – who moved with her family from San Francisco to Petrolia when she was 2 – grew up on a farm on the westernmost plot of the Clark Ranch, which overlooks the mouth of the Mattole River.
“I lived there on and off until I was 16 when I went off to college,” Scheinman said in an email interview with The Times-Standard.
“My parents… are the main musicians in lower Mattole and have played a big role in the community – my dad plays guitar, clarinet, sings and can lead a band. My mom plays piano, accordion and loves throwing big parties,” said Scheinman, who started playing piano and violin at an early age.
“My mother was very committed to our musical education and drove us into town once (one) week for lessons,” she said.
Scheinman says she became “increasingly obsessed” with music during her later high school years.
“I hitchhiked into town to take classes at the Humboldt Music Academy on Saturday, and after meeting a few musicians from the Bay Area, I fell in love with jazz and non-classical music. When I first left home to go to college, all I wanted was to be in a band.
Scheinman – who studied at the Oberlin Conservatory – soon became the violinist in a band called Oh Me Ya.
“(We) played our naive version of West African highlife dance music. We exclusively played for profit and were very popular,” Scheinman said.
She added, “I followed that group to Santa Cruz, then followed my college career to Oakland, where I graduated from UC Berkeley in English Literature, then ended up in New York. , where my more legitimate professional (musical) career began.”
In 2012 – after 13 years on the East Coast – Scheinman moved back to Humboldt County and now resides in Arcata.
“I was pregnant with my second child and wanted to spend her early years with her here in the country,” she said. “…Plus, I had big creative plans that I couldn’t find time for in the hustle and bustle of New York.
“From my very subjective perspective,” Scheinman said, “it seems like the music industry has started to take me more seriously in recent years. My work continues to evolve My calls are returned.
Scheinman says some of his career highlights to date include working with bandleaders Bill Frisell, Bruce Cockburn and Madeleine Peyroux. Over the years, she has also collaborated with a myriad of musical artists including Sean Lennon, Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, Lou Reed and many more.
“Also, making my own 10 albums of original music has been great,” Scheinman said. These albums include self-titled tracks “Jenny Scheinman” (2009), “The Littlest Prisoner” (2014), “Parlor Game” (2019) and others.
Currently, Scheinman directs a musical ensemble at the Northcoast Preparatory Academy in Arcata. She’s also toured the country for the past five years with her project, “Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait,” which she previously presented at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts in Eureka.
“(I) am about to pitch it to Stanford and Southern California,” Scheinman said. “I (also) form a few new bands and I have several albums in mind.”
This week, she is preparing for her performance with the Eureka Symphony.
Scheinman decided to take this gig because, quite simply, Eureka Symphony Music Director/Conductor Carol Jacobson asked her to, she said.
“How can a sane person say no to Carol Jacobson? And we were in the middle of the shutdown and putting a bright light at the end of the tunnel was exactly what I needed,” Scheinman noted.
In an email interview, Jacobson said, “Having Jenny perform with the symphony is completely exciting. I have never delved into the world of jazz before and what an amazing introduction.
The work Scheinman will perform with the Eureka Symphony is ‘Focus’, written by composer/arranger Sauter for classical string orchestra, percussion and a free improvising soloist (the soloist composes his part on the spot). Its most famous rendition was published by jazz saxophonist Stan Getz in 1961.
“There aren’t many pieces in this format that succeed,” Scheinman said, “in part because the feel, vocabulary, and performance practice of the two genres tend to clash. The musicians of jazz follow the rhythm section. Classical orchestras tend to follow a conductor or, if there is no conductor, they follow the melody. It is the opposite. Thus, there is many attempts at transgender pieces that either force the orchestra to “swing”, or suddenly adapt to jazz principles, or lock in the soloist. This piece lets the orchestra be led by the conductor and leaves the improviser respond freely.(Scheinman says his colleague Mark Ferber is traveling from Los Angeles to play the percussion part of the piece for the Eureka concert.)
Scheinman – who has never performed with the Eureka Symphony before – says she is a “huge fan” of the nonprofit music organization.
“Several years ago I attended a New York Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall, then came home and went to the Eureka Symphony holiday show the next night,” he said. she declared. “The spirit of this orchestra rivaled anything I’ve seen on the Carnegie Hall stage. Carol Jacobson’s heart and enthusiasm are contagious. I’ve been going to every gig since, most recently with my 20 NPA students who the orchestra provides free tickets to (thank you!).
She added: “I have also had the immense pleasure of befriending Carol Jacobson over the past few years of being closed. She hosted many tea parties (well, coffee) and met me weekly at Julie Fulkerson’s garage to play chamber music. It has been transformative and vital. As a culmination of all the fun we had, we present our first public collaboration of the greatest score ever written for both of us – classical orchestra and improvising soloist.
For more information about Scheinman, visit https://www.jennyscheinman.com. For more information about the Eureka Symphony, visit https://www.eurekasymphony.org.