Music Department to present eclectic fall concert series

Kicking off with “An Evening of Jazz” on Sept. 14, the fall concert line-up will highlight a diverse range of music genres as well as complement the Music Department’s curriculum. Courtesy of Vassar Music Department.

Stay tuned—quite literally—for Vassar’s fall concert series. From jazz to classical, from showcasing students to guest faculty, the Music Department has put together a diverse and far-reaching lineup for this semester of concerts. Associate Professor, Chair of the Music Department and Director of Choral Activities Christine Howlett commented on the eclectic nature of the series in an emailed statement: “We have a range of concerts that include guest artists, Vassar faculty, student ensembles and senior recitals. There is no particular theme to the overall concert sea- son since there are so many events (close to 100 over the course of the academic year!)”

With such variety in the concert series, the Music Department has not shied away from try- ing new things. In addition to concerts and recitals, the series will feature dances and even a class that goes hand in hand with the music. Howlett outlined some highlights of the fall programming, writing, “This fall, the flamenco music and dance program ‘A Palo Seco’ will be very exciting…For our students in choir, we have the Lorelei Ensemble, an all-female professional choral ensemble from Boston. They will be giving an informal master class with our choir students as well as a concert.”

The multifaceted performances aim to enrich the music as well as to expand upon what stu- dents have been learning in the department. This emphasis is especially evident in the way the con- cert series is put together. Howlett commented, “The Music Department has a concert committee that determines which programs are included. We request feedback and recommendations from our faculty, and we try to choose artists who will connect with what is going on in the classroom.” Concerts Administrator Kim Andresen added, “We like to have a well-rounded and diverse roster of music and we try to feature at least four to five guest artists each year. That’s in addition to our faculty recitals, senior recitals and Vassar College groups.”

Not only are the concerts distinct in genre of music and performance and inclusive of the department’s curriculum, but they also act as a celebration of faculty members. Adjunct Artist in Music and Director of Jazz and Wind Ensembles James Osborn commented, “We, the faculty members, enjoy these concerts because we get to rehearse, perform and interact with our fellow teachers and do what we love to do in front of our students and community members. Otherwise, we are each teaching our own lessons and classes and only get to see each other at faculty meetings.”

Beyond faculty collaboration, the student-teacher relationship and the ability to set an example for students truly lies at the heart of what makes the concerts so important. Osborn continued, “As far as the faculty concerts the rest of the year, we feel that they are important in demonstrating to our students that we are passionate, practicing performers who are dedicated to play at a high level and continually grow as musicians in every way. In other words, we are practicing what we preach in our lessons and classes!”

The fall concert series will continue with a faculty recital, “An Evening of Jazz,” which will be held on Sept. 14 and will feature both classic and original pieces. Osborn stated, “We will be playing four pieces composed and arranged for the quintet by our jazz piano teacher Peter Tomlinson. The other five pieces are well-known jazz tunes selected by the other members of the quintet, including ‘Solitude’ by Duke Ellington, ‘Wendy’ by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond and ‘This I Dig Of You’ by tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley. We selected pieces with a variety of tempos and styles to appeal to a broad range of concert goers.”

Describing Adjunct Artist in Music Peter Tomlinson’s creative process, Osborn stated, “Peter Tomlinson, who wrote the original compositions for the concert, comes up with various melodies and harmonic progressions in his practice sessions and, when he finds something he particularly likes, he will flesh it out as a full blown composition and then write instrumental parts if the concert or gig will include a horn section.”

In keeping with the rest of the season, the up- coming concert will feature both Vassar guest artists and faculty. The latter category is composed of Tomlinson, Osborn and former Associate Professor of Music at Dutchess Community College and new faculty member Dr. Christopher Brel- lochs. All three faculty members have extensive experience with jazz music. Osborn commented on Brellochs’ being added to the faculty: “Chris is a versatile performer and is busy performing classical literature for the saxophone as well as jazz…We are happy to welcome Dr. Brellochs to our faculty, look forward to working with him for many years and are excited to perform for our wonderful students!” In terms of guest appearances, the concert will include bassist Lou Pappas ’18 and drummer Tom Melito, with whom many of the faculty members have worked before.

Ultimately, “An Evening of Jazz” and the rest of the fall concert series aim to provide musical diversity and exploration for audiences while bonding students and teachers alike. Osborn concluded his statement with a friendly outreach: “I encourage everyone to attend as many of our concerts as possible because you never know how much you might enjoy some new music that you have not experienced before as well as hearing great performers in an intimate setting in our beautiful recital hall.”

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