This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.

The late Duke Ellington was known for having a great Big Band, and on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27 and 28, at 8 p.m., the Duke Ellington Orchestra will join forces with Resident Conductor William Henry Curry and the North Carolina Symphony to create a truly big band in the opening concerts of the 2013/14 Pops season at Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh.

A prolific composer, Ellington created more than two thousand pieces of music, including the standard songs “Take the A-Train” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and longer works like “Black, Brown, and Beige,” “Liberian Suite,” and “Afro-Eurasian Eclipse.” During the course of his long career, Ellington was showered with many honors, including the highest civilian award granted by the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was presented to him by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969.

Duke Ellington was active as a performer and composer until his death of lung cancer on May 24, 1974, in New York City. After his death, his only son, Mercer Ellington, who had been serving as the band’s business manager and trumpet player, took over its leadership. Mercer Ellington continued The Duke’s tradition of constant touring, one-night engagements and high-intensity, hard-driving jazz. When Mercer passed away, Duke’s grandson, Paul Ellington took over the leadership role.

Tickets to the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s performance with the North Carolina Symphony range from $18 to $70.  Student tickets are $15.  For more information, go to the North Carolina Symphony’s website at, or call 919.733.2750 or toll free 877.627.6724.

Pops Series partners are CEI: The Digital Office, Duke Medicine, and Duke Realty.

Meymandi Concert Hall is located in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., in Raleigh.

About the North Carolina Symphony

Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony gives more than 200 performances annually to adults and school children in more than 50 North Carolina counties. An entity of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, the orchestra employs 65 professional musicians, under the artistic leadership of Music Director and Conductor Grant Llewellyn and Resident Conductor William Henry Curry.

Based in downtown Raleigh’s spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and an outdoor summer venue at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, N.C., the Symphony performs about 60 concerts annually in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary metropolitan area. It holds regular concert series in Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines and Wilmington—as well as individual concerts in many other North Carolina communities throughout the year—and conducts one of the most extensive education programs of any U.S. orchestra.