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About the Program - Duke
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MUSE/IQUE charges onward with a celebration of Duke Ellington, the iconic musician and composer whose sharp, worldly perspective allowed him to buck conventions and defy expectations, and in doing so, made him one of America's most influential artists.

The first thing you should know about Edward Kennedy Ellington is that he simply got "it".

The man they nicknamed "The Duke" had a profound sense of self, of music and how to compose it, of the society he navigated as a Black man in the early 20th century, of the world at his feet and of the world that might be in the future.

Ellington truly embodied what it means to be a visionary. At a time when it was convenient and obvious to label him as a jazz musician, Duke insisted his music was not just jazz, but rather a bolder descriptor: American. And of course, in the years to come, that's exactly how we would all remember and honor it: distinctly American.

Artistic & Music Director Rachael Worby celebrates this magnificent story. Rachael will be joined by the superlative vocalist Sy Smith, American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancers Herman Cornejo and Skylar Brandt, and our MUSE/IQUE orchestra for a show that will have you moving your feet and imagining new possibilities.

From Ellington classics like "Satin Doll" and "Take The 'A' Train", to a sweeping, magical performance of The Nutcracker Suite, Ellington's American interpretation of the original by Tchaikovsky, we'll bring the music of The Duke to life!

Digital Program - duke
About the artists - duke


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This Los Angeles-based Emmy-nominated singer/songwriter has been dubbed by her peers the "queen of underground soul”. A native of Washington, DC and graduate of Howard University, Sy Smith is considered one of the leaders of the indie soul movement , plus she’s recorded and/or toured with some of the biggest names in R&B, hip-hop and jazz (including Whitney Houston and Sheila E.). Since 2015, she’s performed tributes to Ella Fitzgerald and other iconic women of jazz at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Toronto’s Massey Hall and more. Sy currently tours with Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti and is featured in his 2021 PBS special w/ the Dallas Symphony wowing audiences with her range (which effortlessly goes from whimsical/romantic mezzo-soprano, to a soul-stirring whistle-tone). Sy is humbled and thrilled to return to the stage with MUSE/IQUE for this homage to The Duke.



Herman Cornejo was born in Mercedes, San Luis, Argentina and began his ballet studies at the age of eight at the Instituto Superior de Arte at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. In 1999 he joined American Ballet Theatre, was promoted to Soloist in 2000 and to Principal Dancer in 2003. Cornejo has performed as a guest artist with numerous companies around the world, including Ballet Estable del Teatro Colón, La Scala Ballet, Universal Ballet of Korea, National Ballet of Japan, Kremlin Ballet, Dortmund Ballett, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Martha Graham Company, Ballet Hispánico, Ballet Contemporáneo de Cuba and Corella Ballet Castilla y León. He has participated in charity events for several organizations, including performing alongside Sting at The Rainforest Fund Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall, and at events raising funds for medical research for cancer, Down syndrome and poliomyelitis.


skylar brandt, DANCE

Skylar Brandt was born in Purchase, New York and began her training at age six with teachers Diana White and Christian Claessens at Scarsdale Ballet Studio. Brandt joined ABT II  in 2009, became an apprentice with the main Company in November 2010, and joined the corps de ballet in June 2011. She was appointed a Soloist in August 2015 and a Principal Dancer in September 2020. Brandt was awarded a 2013 Princess Grace Foundation-USA Dance Fellowship.  That same year, she was featured in the film Ballet’s Greatest Hits. In 2018, Brandt was the recipient of an unprecedented Special Jury Award for her performances on the Russian television show “Big Ballet.” In 2022, Brandt was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of influential leaders and entrepreneurs.

The MUSE/IQUE Orchestra

Led by Rachael Worby

Brady Steel Orchestra Conductor

Caroline Bice Librarian

Michael Valerio (Principal)  Bass/Arrangements

Jamey Tate  Drums/Vocals/Arrangements

Myron McKinley  Keyboard

Justin Smith  Guitar


Alyssa Park

Grace Oh

Mina Hong

Lisa Dondlinger

Adam Millstein

Heather Powel


Charlie Tyler

Ginger Murphy

Adrienne Woods

Mia Barcia-Colombo


Damian Montano

Amber Wyman


Dylan Hart

Laura Brenes

Lisa McCormick

Kaiden Waterman


Pete Korpela


Ina Veli

Neel Hammon

Loránd Lokuszta

Fernando Arroyo

Paul Cartwright




Don Ferrone Bass

Tim Eckert Bass

Thomas Harte Bass


Damon Zick

Pat Posey


Rob Schaer

Christopher Gray

Michael Stever


Sidney Hopson


Shawn Mann

Erik Rynearson

Karoline Menezes

Jonah Sirota


Amy Tatum

Jason Mason

(also saxophone)


Michele Forest

Gigi Brady


Nick Daley

Ryan Dragon

David Goya

P. Blake Cooper

(also tuba)

Sponsors - duke

Thank you to our generous season sponsors:

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Anonymous (2), Avery and Andrew Barth, Michael Casey, Nancy and Michael Harahan, The Havner Family Foundation, Ellen and Harvey Knell, The Jerry and Terri Kohl Family Foundation, Lois Madison: The Madison Foundation for Families, Debbie and Rick Powell, and Alyce de Roulet  Williamson.

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