Musicians to jazz up concert

Music department to give its second showcase this semester

By Asma Alkrizy, Opinion Editor

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The music department will host a jazz concert, giving jazz vocal students a chance to showcase their abilities at the John and Jean Knox Center for the Performing Arts on Friday at 8 p.m. 

Director of Choral Activities and Chair of the Vocal and Piano Programs Stephanie Austin said she organized the vocal performance and invited guest jazz singer Barbara Morrison to perform at the Jazz Vocal Gala.

“These performances are a yearly thing we do,” she said. “We tend to be very busy when we have an upcoming musical performance, with students rehearsing. Students rehearse at a different time, so I try to help them individually.”

Dr. Austin said the jazz concert will feature three jazz vocal ensembles, which are comprised of Contra Costa College music major students who have been rehearsing for the upcoming concert. The featured groups include Jazz Singers, Jazzology, and Jazzanova. “There will be jazz pianists, jazz soloists, and jazz choirs,” she said.

Jazzology and Jazzanova are auditioned ensembles that use vocal and jazz skills to perform and also work on solo development. Jazz Singers are beginning choir students with background experience in jazz who don’t need to go through the auditioning to perform at concerts.

Engineering major Irina Tabor said she will perform at the concert in the beginning choir ensemble. She said she took the music class to gain an average of 12 units, and ended up participating in the performance.

“They put me in groups with other students. We sometimes practice in groups as part of the beginning choir.  I am really excited and a bit anxious about the concert though,” Tabor said.

However, the Jazz Vocal Gala is not the first vocal performance the music department has organized this semester. Preceding this upcoming jazz concert was a classical concert that the music department hosted.

Music professor Wayne Organ said the music department showcases one vocal performance for each semester, but this spring semester it decided to showcase two concerts.

“We have decided to make these changes because a lot of our music students work very hard to prepare for their pieces and they don’t get a chance to play them in front of an audience,” he said.

“We decided to do two concerts this semester, one for students who are performing classical music and the other for students who are performing jazz.”

Organ said the classical concert that was hosted was similar to the jazz concert in structure. There were classical pianists, classical soloists and a classical choir. The only difference was the music genre.

“The May 20 jazz concert focuses mainly on jazz,” he said. “So there will be a lot of jazz music going on in the concert. It’ll be fun.”

Organ said as part of being a music major, students have to perform in concerts, share the hard work that they’ve done and the hours they put into mastering the music pieces and the instruments.

“It is like being an athlete,” he said. “For example, they have basketball games and in music we have a concert, which is same thing as playing in a tournament. But the only difference is music isn’t about winning or losing. The payoff is sharing it with an audience.”

He said he will offer extra credit to students who attend the jazz concert.

“It will give students a chance to learn about jazz and the different styles played in the concert. It’ll be a great experience,” Organ said.