By Ida Ynner Lagerqvist
The Jazz Ensemble and the Women’s Choir are packing their instruments and musicality for a performance tour this upcoming summer. From July 22 to July 30, approximately 35 students will visit six different cities in northern Spain and southern France where they will perform and experience different cultures. They are scheduled to perform at the San Sebastian Jazz Festival and the Fêtes de Bayonne Festival.
Every summer, a group of students from the music department go on a performance tour. The purpose of the trip is for students and faculty members to go to a different country with unfamiliar culture and experience it while performing and sharing their own musical culture.
Junior Brandon Allen, a music education major and member of the jazz ensemble, will join the trip. He described how the trip gives them a great opportunity to combine music with education of new cultures. “In every different country, you have a different kind of music and culture, so for us to learn about the culture while playing music is a great experience for everyone,” Allen said.
The San Sebastian Jazz Festival in San Sebastian, Spain had approximately 150,000 attendees in the last few years. Junior Allie Michaelis, jazz ensemble member and music education major, explained the students’ excitement for being part of something of this scale. They want to give a good impression of themselves, the school and American jazz culture.
“To showcase our talent from the states and to represent our school and this department is something that is very exciting,” Michaelis said. “We want to be the best we can to show what we are here for and what we do back home.”
The instrumental groups will perform standard big band tunes and some original compositions made by students. The Long Island Sound Vocal Jazz Ensemble will perform arrangements from “Great American Songbook” and the women’s choir will perform jazz standards specifically arranged for female voices.
Lisa Meyer, the music department’s production and recruitment coordinator, stated how valuable the tour is for the students’ future careers. Many of the students are music education majors and if they would like to take their future students on a similar trip they know what do and what places they should try to visit. “That’s a part of the whole experience, to get this experience so they can use it later in their teaching careers,” she said.
The opportunity to participate in the tour is irreplaceable, Meyer said. “To travel with your friends and fellow musicians, to perform together and to do all the sightseeing – it’s a very special and unique experience that they never will have again,” she said.
Junior vocalist Christina Desimone, a music education major, is grateful for the chance to travel and perform as a college student. “It’s not an experience that you think you will have before going to college and then all of a sudden you are being giving these opportunities that the department has to offer,” Desimone said.
The department joined with World Projects Help to plan the trip. The students pay for the trip’s expenses, but they fundraise and collect donations to lower the costs for each student. Some of the proceeds of their concerts throughout the year are also used to finance the trip.
Aside from the experience the students will earn from the trip, Michaelis thinks the opportunity to travel with music and bring it to others is beautiful. Music is where many of them feel that they belong. “Music is our home, it’s who we are,” she said.
The jazz ensemble and the women’s choir will perform some of the pieces they bring to Europe at other concerts throughout the year. Their next concert is on Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. in the Krasnoff Theater.