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Pittsburg Festival of the Arts kicks off with Jazz at Dusk

For the better part of a year, live performances of music have been mostly quashed. The yearly tradition of the Pittsburg Festival of the Arts came back full force with Jazz at Dusk. 

On Sunday, Jun. 13 at 8:15 p.m, the Pittsburg State University department of music hosted Jazz at Dusk as part of the 2021 Pittsburg Festival of the Arts. The performance was hosted by professor of trombone and jazz studies Robert Kehle and featured the Summer Kicks Jazz Band, an ad hoc band made up of musicians affiliated with Pittsburg State. Some of these musicians included seniors in music education Fayne Speer on drums and Dalton Maynor on saxophone, spring 2021 alumnus in music Edith Sigler on piano, professors of music Joanne Britz on saxophone and Todd Hastings on trumpet, professor emeritus Rusty Jones on saxophone, director of alumni & constituent relations Jon Bartlow on saxophone, local music teachers Chris Goddard & Amanda Damewood-Goddard on trombone, Matt Bennett on saxophone, and Trey Waddell & Jon Evans on trumpet. The concert featured music primarily of the swing era with other styles of jazz programmed as well. 

“It’s really great to have an actual audience,” Kehle said. “Throughout the (COVID-19) pandemic, we’ve had to record the concerts and I’ll clap for the soloists, but I didn’t know how much I missed having an audience clapping for our players. It’s so nice to give them the recognition they deserve.” 

The concert took place on the front lawn of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and audience members were encouraged to bring lawn chairs, snacks, drinks, and even dance to the music if they so choose. 

“We’re going to be doing a lot of music from the swing era, really emphasizing that style,” Kehle said. “Feel free to get up here on the concrete and dance with us. Get up and move.” 

The Summer Kicks Jazz Band met during the week prior to the concert and rehearsed all of their music. The concert featured jazz standards such as “Stardust” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” as well as contemporary jazz charts by Los Angeles native Tom Kubis. 

“It’s so nice to be back and playing together, especially for these guys (the jazz band members),” Kehle said. “Some of them haven’t played together for two years due to the (COVID-19) pandemic and it’s great to bring them together to play again.” 

The 2021 Festival of the Arts features more varied presentations than in previous years including an art gallery exhibition by Joplin-based artist Paula Giltner, and movie screenings of “Road to Bali” and “A Royal Wedding.” Some performances from the Festival of the Arts were recorded and will be available for viewing at a later date. 

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