Wynton Marsalis is coming to Gretna Playhouse.

The world-renowned trumpeter and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet will play two concerts there at 3 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, rain or shine, a press release announced.

This opportunity “is once in a lifetime for central Pennsylvania,” Suzanne Lieto Stewart, executive director of Gretna Music, told LebTown. “We’re so excited.”

Gretna Music, Central PA Friends of Jazz and Robin-Banks Entertainment are partnering to present the 75-90 minute concerts.

A limited number of tickets are available starting at 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 28, by calling Gretna Music at 717-361-1508. A COVID-19 safety waiver must be signed before tickets can be ordered, according to the release. Waivers can be obtained by emailing [email protected] and writing JAZZ in the subject line. (Update: Tickets have sold out.)

Tickets are $99 for premium seats and $65 for the back portion of the amphitheater, “though most patrons would argue there is no bad seat in the house,” the release quipped.

Because only 150 seats can be sold for each performance to maintain social distancing, “the designation of premium seats was crucial in meeting the financial needs to produce the concert,” the release noted.

Stewart said this is the first public event of this year at the playhouse.

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It was a late-breaking addition to the septet’s very abbreviated touring schedule. Gretna Music learned of the opportunity from John Ernesto, of Berks Jazz Festival, on Sept. 15. The challenge for the presenters was to find the right outdoor venue that was willing to open and comply with safety protocols, and to accommodate the limited scheduling options.

“It was a blessing for us,” Stewart said. “There aren’t that many open air theaters.”

The septet includes Marsalis, trumpet/music director; Elliot Mason, trombone; Ted Nash, alto saxophone; Walter Blanding, tenor saxophone; Dan Nimmer, piano; Carlos Henriques, bass; and Obed Calvaire, drums.

They will present a concert of new works and arrangements by Marsalis and featured Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members, with a focus on freedom and democracy.

Marsalis is the winner of nine Grammy Awards. In 1983, according to the bio on his website, he became the only artist to win Grammys for both jazz and classical records; he did it again in 1984.

In fact, he is the only artist ever to win Grammys in five consecutive years (1983-1987).

Marsalis co-founded Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1987. He has produced 100-plus records that have sold in excess of seven million copies worldwide, including three Gold Records.

More than 30 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities have bestowed honorary degrees on Marsalis, among them Columbia, Harvard, Howard, Princeton and Yale.

And in 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his oratorio “Blood on the Fields,” which tells the story of two American slaves, Jesse and Leona, and their search for freedom.

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