Dizzying display of music
J. Fred Fox | reporter
There was a dizzying display of music at Memorial Auditorium on Friday, March 1, featuring the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.
Pitt State’s own Jazz I band opened the concert for hundreds of PSU students as well as hundreds more middle- and high-school students as well as many performers from the Pittsburg community.
As part of PSU’s Jazz Festival, dozens of high-school and middle-school jazz groups from around the area performed throughout the day on PSU’s campus and at the auditorium.
The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Band, one of the most recognized jazz groups in the world, consists of some astounding performers. That includes Frank Greene, the lead trumpet player for David Letterman’s band, and Steve Davis, a professor for the Julliard School, who played trombone.
“I’ve never had the chance to hear such a famous big band before,” said Tyler Jones, freshman in vocal music education, who played guitar for PSU’s Jazz I.
“They (really enjoyed their time here and want to come back,” said Robert Kehle, Jazz Ensemble director. “The audience’s excitement is a rare treat for the band. Now they’ll go back to New York and talk up our school.”
John Lee, the bassist for the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, praised the audience’s reception.
“This was one of the best schools we’ve played at,” he said. “There was great audience enthusiasm and energy,” Lee said.
PSU’s Jazz I performed an overarching repertoire of classic and contemporary jazz to an arrangement of Radiohead.
“It was exciting to hear the crowd get excited for Radiohead,” Jones said.
Josh Miller, a trombonist for PSU Jazz I, says performing with this kind of accompaniment was a unique experience.
“I’ve never played Radiohead in a jazz band,” Miller said. “Dizzy’s band was the best concert I’ve ever seen.”
Kehle said Radiohead’s philosophy makes having their music arranged in this fashion a special opportunity.
“Radiohead really exemplifies an anti-establishment mindset. Being able to get a published arrangement is unusual,” Kehle said.
Steve Scott, university president, was also impressed.
“One of my favorite things to do is experience the talents of our students,” Scott said.
Emma Huskey, freshman in graphic design, thought it was the best jazz performance she’ll have the opportunity to experience.
Not everyone was completely wowed by the show.
“I thought it was really loud. And was a little slow at times,” said Jennifer Bliss, freshman in nursing.
Big pianist at Pitt
The Pittsburg State Music Department is welcoming critically acclaimed solo pianist Soyeon Kate Lee as a part of the 2012-2013 Solo and Chamber Music Series at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, in McCray Hall.
Admission to the Solo & Chamber Music Series concerts is free to PSU students with ID.
“We are one of the official presenters of the winners of the Naumburg International Piano Competition,” said Susan Marchant, professor of music and chair of solo and chamber music. “We are notified of the winner and are invited to host them within two years of them winning. This is Soyeon’s second year of touring.”
Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in the United States, Lee attended The Julliard School and won several competitions, including the school’s concerto completion.
She also gave her debut recital at the Lincoln Center in New York. On top of all of her accomplishments, she is also an adjunct assistant professor of music at the City College of New York.
“I wasn’t a prodigy. I had to practice. But my parents never pushed me to practice,” Lee said in a phone interview with The Times News. “I just always loved it and they encouraged me in that regard.”
In addition to the Lincoln Center, Lee has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Auditorio de Musica de Nacional in Spain. She has received countless awards, including the Mozart Prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition.
Marchant said that the concert series has been held for more than 20 years and switches instrumental focus every year in keeping with that year’s sponsored competition.
“We’ve had a lot of pianists, a lot of string players – whatever the competition’s focus is that year,” Marchant explained. “They tend to be younger artists who are just on the brink of emerging into world-class careers. We’re never disappointed.”
Marchant also said that turnout for the series is usually pretty strong, but she encourages more students to attend.
“Our audience tends to be made up of music and music appreciation students and our large and loyal following from the community,” Marchant said. “Everyone is invited, especially PSU students, who are entitled to a free ticket.”
The Solo & Chamber Music Series will conclude in April with a concert by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, with special guest dancer Colette Illarde.
“That is going to be a special evening,” Marchant said. “The second half of the show will be all flamenco music with a Spanish dancer and costume, so there’ll be a touch of multiculturalism that night as well.”
Non-students can purchase tickets in the PSU Ticket Office at the Weede or at the door on the night of the performance.