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Richmond musician to conduct same music in different genres at holiday concert

Symphony 21 orchestra presents The Nutcracker: Tchaikovsky meets Ellington
Jaelem Bhate
Jaelem Bhate, a Hugh Boyd alumnus, will be conducting two orchestras at a holiday concert on Dec.15 at UBC Chan Centre.

A Richmond musician is directing one of Vancouver’s first cross-genre music concerts to welcome the winter holidays.

Jaelem Bhate, a Hugh Boyd alumnus, will be bringing classical and jazz music together on the same stage at the UBC Chan Centre on Dec. 15.

Symphony 21, an orchestra founded by Bhate in 2019, and the Jaelem Bhate Jazz Orchestra are presenting “The Nutcracker: Tchaikovsky meets Ellington.”

“Cross-genre and collaborations in music are really the main points in music at the end of the day,” said Bhate, adding there has been “a long tradition” of jazz composers using classical music score materials to create new arrangements and compositions.

“Seeing (two versions) of the same music, on the same stage side by side, played live, is something I’m truly excited for and it hasn’t been professionally done before in Vancouver as far as I’m aware,” the 28-year-old said.

During the first half of the concert’s program, Symphony 21 will play a selection of the most popular songs from The Nutcracker Suite, while the second half of the program will feature Duke Ellington’s jazz arrangement of the same score, played by Bhute’s jazz orchestra.

Both orchestras will be conducted by Bhate, who was named top 30 under 30 classical musicians in Canada in 2019.

To Bhate, the collaboration of two different types of music opens the music world up to a wider community and brings people together.

“This allows people in the general community with no prior experience in instrumental music to learn just how big and vast the world of non-pop music is,” said Bhate.

“I think collaborations with people in the community, whether it be in Richmond, Vancouver, B.C., or Canada and outside the genre is really the way to continue the progress of music itself. It also encourages and reinforces (the idea) that music is what brings the community together.”

Bhate said he hopes those who come to the concert come with their “ears and an open mind” to enjoy and relax.

“The music will speak for itself. If they’re willing to give (cross-genre music) a try and a change, they will walk away with a big smile on their faces and sugar plums dancing in their heads.”

For information and tickets to the concert, visit