Merced Symphony

Gershwin, Jazz & More!

Legendary works of American jazz by George Gershwin, including Rhapsody in Blue performed by pianist Patrice Nelson and An American in Paris sung by soprano Jenni Samuelson! This concert is sure to leave your fingers snapping and your spirit humming!


January 17, 2020 | 7:30pm
Merced Theatre


Pianist Patrice Nelson

Photograph of Patrice Nelson

Patrice Stribling Nelson is a classical pianist who has appeared with symphony orchestras across the United States. An award-winning veteran of professional and college theatre, Patrice has served as Music Director in theatres from California to New York, including The New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street in Memphis and the Young Vic in Baltimore. A native of Merced, Patrice returned in 2005 to teach at Merced College and to open the Stribling Nelson Music Studio. She is the Founding Director of the Merced Children’s Choir at Merced College, and established Merced’s first Musikgarten, a developmental program for newborns through five-year-olds, centered in music and movement. Patrice and her husband, celebrated Merced musician, educator, and actor Curtis Nelson, retired to Pennsylvania in 2019.

This performance with the Merced Symphony is very special to Patrice, as her mother, Lorraine Murphy Wenrich, was among the co-founders of the Merced Symphony in the early 1950’s. Patrice first appeared with Merced’s symphony in 1972 as winner of the Youth Auditions, and two of her piano students have also performed as winners of this young artists’ competition. Gershwin, Jazz & More! marks her sixth appearance as a guest artist with the Merced Symphony, and she’s delighted to be on stage with us once more.

Soprano Jenni Samuelson

Photograph of Jenni Samuelson

Merced superstar Jenni Samuelson is an award-winning soprano with repertoire that includes opera, oratorio, and art song as well as musical theater, jazz, and contemporary popular forms. She has performed more than 25 lead roles with opera companies throughout the country, including the San Francisco Opera Center. Her signature roles include Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Musetta (La Boheme), and Johanna (Sweeney Todd). Jenni currently teaches in the Global Arts Studies Program at UC Merced and proudly serves on the Board of the Playhouse Merced Board of Directors. The Merced Symphony is honored to have Jenni perform as a guest soloist at its Pops Concert for the second year in a row!