The music department at Concordia invited listeners to swing into the season with three holiday concerts in December. Concordia’s Jazz Ensemble and Vocal Jazz Choir performed at the annual Winter JazzFest on Dec. 13 in the Weller Hall Auditorium. On Saturday, Dec. 14, the university’s Chamber Orchestra gave a recital. The Concordia Handbell Choir and Handbell Choir II also rang in the holidays with a recital on Sunday Dec. 15.
The Winter JazzFest featured both of Concordia’s jazz ensembles for a holiday concert with a funky twist. The Vocal Jazz Choir will serenade audiences with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” arranged by Steve Zegree, “Uninvited” by Alanis Morisette, and "Last Night When We Were Young" by Harold Arlen, among others. The choir is conducted by Dr. Kurt von Kampen and aims to prepare Concordia’s vocal education students to teach a greater variety of choral music. The choir’s 16 voices are selected by audition and also sing with the 72-member University A Cappella Choir.
The instrumental Jazz Ensemble featured the works of notable jazz composer Sammy Nestico. “The Queen Bee” and “Switch in Time” were released on Count Basie’s 1967 album, “Straight Ahead” and feature blues rhythms and harmonies.
“I think the band has grown tremendously while working on these tunes as we have used the original Basie recordings as a model and guide for creating a fantastic big band sound,” Jazz Ensemble director Andrew Schultz said. Schultz serves as assistant professor of music and conducts Concordia’s wind and instrumental ensembles.
The University Chamber Orchestra is comprised of students who play wind, brass, string and percussion instruments. The ensemble focuses on classical repertoire and is open to all university students.
On Dec. 15, the Concordia Handbell Choir and Handbell Choir II performed a holiday show full of traditional and percussive bell arrangements.
“We are excited to be performing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra piece ‘Wizards in Winter’ this year,” Jessica Kite, director of the choirs, said. “We first played it several years ago and since that time it has been the piece everyone has been asking me to have our ringers play again. It is a very challenging piece and extremely fast in some passages. In other words, a whole lot of fun to play and listen to!”