Washington Center to host free music history film series

Staff WriterApril 2, 2014 

Legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson jams with Art Mineo on bass, Dick Morehead on drums, Joe "Flip" Phillips on tenor saxophone and Bill Harris on trombone in 1951. Jazz is one of the genres the music series will feature.


Beginning Friday, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts will host a free, six-week series of documentary film screenings titled “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway.”

The program is set to run 6:30-8:30 p.m. every Friday through May 2. There also will be a special Saturday screening April 26 in conjunction with the Olympia Art Walk.

Jill Barnes, the center’s executive director, said the goal of the program is to “help introduce different types of music, show how modern music has been influenced by older styles, and bridge gaps among generations.”

The Washington Center is one of 50 institutions nationwide hosting this particular program, which was curated by the Tribeca Film Institute along with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music. The event was made possible by a $2,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to the center in partnership with The Evergreen State College and the Timberland Regional Library. Of 81 grants awarded, this was the only one made in the Pacific Northwest.

Speaking for the Timberland Library, public relations specialist Leanne Ingle was quick to point out the merits of the program and its benefit to the area. “This event is a community builder and it’s an event that all can afford – there is no admission fee,” she said.

Following the screenings, the library will bookmark a variety of materials for those wishing to learn more about a given subject.

“Knowledge and information come from a variety of formats,” Ingle said. “Whether it’s sound, film, books, or the Internet, the library sees all these ways of learning as valuable sources of knowledge which should be made available to everyone.”

Every major genre of popular music over the last century will be represented in the program, including blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock ‘n’ roll, mambo and hip-hop. Before each screening, Evergreen expressive arts faculty member Andrew Buchman will introduce the subject, and after the screening, there will be a larger group discussion. In some cases, excerpts from multiple films or series will be shown.

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