The University of Kansas Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, performed April 12 at the Appel Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. The program included selections from Charlie Parker, Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington, along with compositions by a KU alumnus and a current student.
The ensemble performed the world premiere of “Bright Day Moon” composed by Andrew Linn, u’10, who attended the concert. The group also played “Everybody is with Everybody Else,” by Kai Ono, a junior piano major from Irvine, California. Ono won the 2016 Downbeat Student Music Award for Outstanding Original Composition.
KU Jazz Ensemble I has received 23 Downbeat Student Music Awards, including Best Large Jazz Ensemble 2015 in the Graduate Division.
Joining the ensemble in New York was acclaimed jazz vocalist Deborah Brown, a Kansas City, Missouri, native who has performed in more than 50 countries and recorded 11 albums.
Playing on one of jazz’s most celebrated stages with Brown was “a really great feeling,” says trombonist Fern Stevermer, a junior from Fulton, Missouri. “The School of Music gives us so many opportunities, great faculty and great experiences. It gets us ready to go out in the world as prepared musicians.”
Alumni support helped make the students’ trip possible. Lead sponsors of the performance were James Zakoura, c’70, l’72; Reach Out Kansas Inc.; the Law Offices of Smithyman & Zakoura; and the Zakoura Family Foundation.
Watch our video below for highlights from the performance and comments from students. A slideshow of additional photos from the rehearsal, reception and performance is below the video. Photos and video by Dan Storey.
The sounds of the University of Kansas School of Music’s Chamber Singers will waft west next week as they hit the road to share their voices with eight Kansas high schools during a three-day choral tour.
The 24-member Chamber Singers choir, directed by Paul Tucker, will visit the following high schools:
April 4 – Topeka High, El Dorado and Douglass
April 5 – Pratt, Dodge City and Cimarron
April 6 – Garden City and Quinter
The KU Chamber Singers are a select, mixed ensemble of mostly juniors, seniors and graduate students studying music. They are the university’s main touring choir. While on tour, the Chamber Singers will give a performance for the students at each school and then spend about an hour working with high school choirs, listening to them rehearse and providing critiques.
“This is the time of year when high school choirs are preparing for competitions; so they are very eager for our help,” said Tucker, who is the KU director of choral activities.
The statewide tour is initiated and sponsored by longtime supporter of KU choral programs, Robert Daugherty, who fondly remembers KU Choirs performing at his high school in Meade more than 50 years ago.
“I had never heard such beautiful music. I didn’t know people could sing like that,” Daugherty said. “I want to bring these students the wonderful live music experience that I enjoyed years ago.”
Daugherty’s late wife, Sandra Keller-Daugherty, was a KU graduate and a valuable member of the KU choirs. Daugherty has his bachelor’s and medical degrees from KU. He and his daughter Allison Smithson will join the students on the tour.
Alumni are invited to attend receptions in Pratt on Monday, April 4, at the Park Hill Country Club and Garden City on Tuesday, April 5, at the Southwind Country Club. There is no cost to attend the events, but registration is requested for planning purposes. Appetizers, coffee, tea and water will be provided.
Contact Michelle Miles, assistant director of alumni programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about the alumni receptions. For more information about the tour, please contact the KU School of Music at 785–864-3436.
Kansas City cartoonist, illustrator, barbecue-sauce impresario and frequent Kansas Alumni magazine contributor Charlie Podrebarac, ’81, is getting in the swing of things in anticipation of Saturday’s Jazz Border Showdown 2, the second-annual battle of the bands between KU’s Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, and Mizzou’s Concert Jazz Band, directed by Arthur White.
And since Podrebarac brightened our day with this surprise contribution, we thought it might do the same for Jayhawk jazz lovers everywhere.
The big border gig will feature shows at 8 and 9:30 p.m. in The Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum, 1616 E. 18th St., in Kansas City, Missouri. Tickets are $10, and more information can be found at club.americanjazzmuseum.org.
To see more of Podrebarac’s fun-loving art, visit arttogogo.com; to check out some fun-loving and delicious holiday gift ideas, amble over to cowtownbbq.com.
Eighty student members of the KU Wind Ensemble are celebrating Spring Break in enviable fashion–preparing for their March 26 performance at renowned Carnegie Hall, where they will present the world premiere of a symphony commissioned especially for the ensemble.
The musicians and their director, Paul Popiel, will board a bus bright and early Friday, March 22, for their long-awaited journey. On Saturday, they will rehearse at The Ohio State University School of Music in Columbus, then pile back on the bus, arriving in New York City Sunday night. The itinerary for Monday includes a private tour of the 9/11 Memorial, which will provide poignant inspiration for their performance of “In the Shadow of No Towers,” a symphony by New York-based composer Mohammed Fairouz that examines life in the post 9/11 world.
Fairouz, a native New Yorker, traveled to Lawrence in February to assist in rehearsals. “Mohammed spent a lot of time creating this symphony, and it was a luxury to have him here and bounce the music back and forth with him,” Popiel says. “He gave this symphony to us, and now we must grab it and own it. Our students have the rare opportunity on one of the world’s great stages to be the professionals they aspire to be now.”
The ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. March 26 in the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage of Carnegie Hall. Alumni and friends can purchase half-price tickets for $12.50 by using the code KAN15783. To purchase, visit www.carnegiehall.org, call Carnegie Charge at 212.247.7800 or visit the box office in New York City. Students can purchase tickets at the box office for $5 with a valid ID.
Alumnus James Zakoura commissioned Fairouz to create the symphony especially for the KU Wind Ensemble. Zakoura has provided numerous gifts to the KU School of Music, including support for performances throughout Kansas, but “In the Shadow of No Towers” represents an intense collaboration over many months. In September 2011, Zakoura met with Popiel and Fairouz. “It was very emotional,” he recalls. “I basically told them my aspirations for the piece, which was that it address an important issue, and to honor the people who lost their lives and the families and the friends that survived that. I wrote a note to Paul saying, ‘These are my hopes, that this can be positive and a wholly inspiring gift from Kansas to New York and to the world.’” And Paul told me that he took my note and put it with the score and he looks at it from time to time so that he can be reminded where we’re heading and … the important work we’re doing together.”
To follow the story of the students’ journey to Carnegie and the collaboration of Popiel, Fairouz and Zakoura, visit www.ku.edu/carnegiehall.
The University of Kansas Trumpet Ensemble represented Kansas in the 2013 Inaugural Parade after another band had to withdraw. Kansas House Representative Barbara Ballard recommended the group to inauguration planners, and with the help of generous sponsors, including the KU Alumni Association, arrangements for the trip fell into place. With only ten days and two rehearsals to prepare, the students left Lawrence Friday for the 21-hour bus ride to the nation’s capital. Under the direction of Steve Leisring, associate professor of trumpet, the group marched along the 1.3 mile parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue, playing an arrangement of the Kansas State song, “Home on the Range.”
Photos from the parade were posted on KU’s Facebook page, and a recounting of the group’s experience appeared in the University Daily Kansan when classes resumed this week. Alumni may also remember that we featured Master Sgt. Gerry Amoury, d’86, last month on this site, where he talked about his involvement in planning the Inaugural Parade. We’re proud of our patriotic Jayhawks!
A favorite KU tradition this time of year is Holiday Vespers. This year, the KU School of Music is presenting the 88th annual Holiday Vespers Dec. 2 at the Lied Center of Kansas. Tickets are $12.50/general admission and $10/students and seniors and can be purchased by visiting or calling the Lied Center Box Office, 785-864-2787. KU students who show a valid ID are FREE to the 7:30pm performance. Enjoy the sounds of the season with these video highlights from the 2009 performance. For more information about this year’s performance, visit the the KU School of Music.