Willamette University’s Vocal Jazz Festival Invitational and Spring Choral Concert will be held this Friday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, and Sunday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m. in Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center, respectively.
Featured in the Jazz Invitational Festival will be visiting high school and college choirs, as well as Willamette University’s Jazz Singer’s ensemble. The Spring Choral concert will present Male Ensemble Willamette, Voce Femminile and Chamber Choir performing a unique piece in collaboration with Willamette’s Theatre Department, incorporating dancers, including aerial dancers and PowerPoint art.
This year’s Vocal Jazz Invitational will feature visiting jazz choirs from West Salem High School, Sprague High School, South Salem High School, Cottage Grove High School and Portland Community College, as well featured artist Dave Cazier of Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco, WA. Cazier is a renowned vocal educator, composer and arranger.
Dr. Wallace Long, Willamette University’s Director of Choral Activities, has been in charge of planning and producing both the Vocal Jazz Invitational and Spring Choral concerts. Long described the upcoming performance of Chamber Choir’s “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine”:
“We’ve really tried to capture what it would be like in the genius mind of Leonardo da Vinci as he started dreaming of the possibility of flight. We were inspired by da Vinci’s study of bird wings, studying them as they flew and sketching them in his sketchbook. This is what prompted the idea to have aerial dancers as well as choreography on the ground and the use of PowerPoint.”
Producing the Chamber Choir’s arrangement of “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine” was a lengthy process that required a team of students to develop the PowerPoint art, as well as Theatre Department professors EJ Reinagel and Jessie Faust to create choreography on the ground and in the air.
During the performance, student dancers will hang from silken ropes from the eves of Hudson Hall, swinging along to the music below, accentuating the perpetual movement on the stage created by a mix of dancers and choreography from the choir.
Preceding Sunday’s events, the Vocal Jazz Festival Invitational Concert on Friday will present a wide variety of choral jazz music.
Dr. Long, founder and organizer of the festival, believes that Willamette’s jazz invitational is all about education.
“The thing that is unique about this invitational festival is that we are not supportive of the concept of competition in music. I created this festival to be about education. The choirs that come to our festival call it their favorite festival of the year because it’s all about education and not competition.”
The festival, an immersive experience for the jazz choirs attending, will include tours of the Willamette University campus and masterclasses conducted by Dr. Long, Dave Kazier and Willamette music alumni Matt Sazmu and Harris Long.
“Each choir will visit each masterclass,” said Dr. Long. “Our masterclasses will consist of workshops on scat singing, jazz soloing, each choir’s instrumentalists performance, the overall performance of each choir arrangement and working within Willamette University’s sound system.”
To learn more about the both concerts, visit Willamette University’s website.