Presented by the Flynn and the Shelburne Museum
Hello, I’m Dr. Joel Pierson, Artistic Director and pianist for The Queen’s Cartoonists. Can you imagine going to a concert with your parents, grandparents, kids, or grandkids and everyone having an equal amount of FUN? Every time we get on stage, this is our goal. Many of us got our first exposure to classical music from cartoons, but we rarely think about how amazing the music in those films is. So here we are. Without giving too much away (we love surprises), prepare yourself to hear a mixture of classical and jazz music set to a backdrop of famous cartoon characters. Think Cab Calloway & Betty Boop. Rossini & Bugs Bunny. Buddy Rich & Popeye the Sailor Man. You get the picture.
The Queen’s Cartoonists play music from classic cartoons and contemporary animation. The performances are synchronized to video projections of the original films, with the goal of creating a concert of classical music and jazz for everyone—regardless of age, gender, or familiarity with the concert hall. Since their inception in 2015, The Queen’s Cartoonists have gone from playing in the New York subway system to selling out the Blue Note Jazz Club and opening for the New York Philharmonic. The 6 members, born on 3 continents, are now residents of Queens, NY. Expect the unexpected from repertoire that includes the Golden Age of animation, cult cartoon classics, modern video pieces, comedy, and elements of a musical circus!
Dr. Pierson has made a career out of music and mockery, or perhaps a mockery of his career in music. He has worked with artists of great repute (the New York Philharmonic, the Kronos Quartet), and artists of even greater ill-repute (Linkin Park, Ke$ha). Wayne Newton told Joel he loved him, and Paul McCartney gave him a shoulder massage. He has performed on all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica), and as a songwriter was signed to Warner Brothers Records. His music has been performed by major symphony orchestras including Atlanta, Houston, Toronto, Cleveland, & The Philly Pops. Joel wrote additional music for the 2013 film The Internship, and is the author of the books You Suck at Piano and 20 Piano Pieces for People with Emotional Problems. See and hear more on his website.
Greg Hammontree has been tinkering with music his entire life, sometimes at places like Radio City Music Ball, Symphonic Space, The Jazz Standards, Studio 55, Flushing Town Mall, The Bowery Bathroom, The Louis Armstrong Mouse Museum, and in Chinatown. No wait, I meant actual China. It’s real, people—Greg has been there and lived to tell the tale. Greg has a surprising number of dedicated fans in Italy, even though his Italian is “no es bueno.” He has a reputation of being a fearless cartoon trumpet master, meaning he will take on any challenge, no matter how fast, ridiculous, or potentially dangerous. Greg received his Master's in Jazz Performance from CUNY, Queens College and is now a professional freelance trumpet player in New York City, #unemployed #happyhour #blessed #hashtag
The descendent of a sheep-thief and a woman who baked her enemies into pies, Mark Phillips is the luckiest jazz immigrant in history. Upon deciding to move Up Over (what Australians call the US) to pursue great music and fewer deadlier creatures, Mark was told that in fact he was already a US citizen. The hard part being magically taken care of, Mark landed in Queens in 2011. His wacky musical journey started by studying classical saxophone, but has since morphed into being the best damn cartoon clarinetist on multiple continents. His instrumental accomplishments have not gone un-noticed, as he is now a Selmer Artist, ranking him among the best woodwind players in New York City. His bartending skills, while occasionally useful, have proven to be less distinguished, as Australians have a natural tendency to over-pour and under-care about their patrons.
Rossen Nedelchev is a professional drummer, producer and educator in New York City. He hails from Sofia, Bulgaria, and let me tell you, that’s a helluva cab fare. Get it? He hailed a cab from Europe? His jack-of-all-trades mentality extends to musical styles as well, being an in-demand session drummer in the worlds of pop, jazz, funk, jazz-funk, rhythm & blues, blues & rhythm, rhythm & rhythm, and bluesy jazz. Rossen is the band leader for the rhythm & rhythm band Alter View and he plays drums for the 8-time NAMMY award-winning, Grammy nominated singer Jana Mashonee, the NYC pop/electronic band The Qualia and The Queen’s Cartoonists. He produces for a variety of artists and has a Graduate Diploma in jazz performance from the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
New York City based multi-multi-multi-instrumentalist Drew Pitcher was raised close to Michilimackinac, Michigan, which, by complete coincidence, is also his DJ name. After pounding the pavement with dope beats building his street cred, Drew dropped his true musical skill: being a world-class player of the tenor sax, alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, and harmonica. Drew attended the University of North Texas where he performed and recorded with the Grammy nominated One O’Clock Lab Band. Dark economic times followed. Drew made ends meet by recording smooth jazz Christmas albums under the moniker “Montgomery Bruce”, traveling the world seeking gigs, and performing with artists such as The Coasters, The Drifters, The Platters, and sadly, Wayne Newton. Having survived these travels, Drew now resides in New York, where he ferments malted barley and hops in his apartment.
Bassist Kaisa Mäensivu grew up in the small Finnish village of Nahkahousut, which roughly translates to “Leather Pants.” She still remembers the first time she heard jazz…there she was, with pigtails and saddle shoes in the long northern summer evening…the music was so enchanting it made her drop her herring into a lake. Kaisa was changed forever. She packed it up for the big city (Onpahanvaanlampi, which translates to “Well, here’s a pond”), then the bigger city (Kissanpiiskaajankuja, which translates to “Cat Spankers Alley”), and then finally the biggest of them all—New York! She got a master’s in jazz bass at the Manhattan School of Music and spends her time jetting back and forth between New York and Europe. If you see her after the show, please do greet her in her favorite Finnish greeting: “Haistat rusinoilta!”