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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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AU’s Jazz Orchestra serves up ‘Some Spring Swing’

The ensemble’s spring performance included special guests from Georgetown

The Katzen Arts Center was filled with the sound of swing on April 19 as American University’s Jazz Orchestra presented their spring concert, “Some Spring Swing.”

Joined by special guests from the Georgetown University Jazz Ensemble, the AU Jazz Orchestra took to the stage in the Abramson Family Recital Hall to play a selection of Big Band, swing, funk and straight-ahead jazz.

The performance was a culmination of years of practice for the musicians.

“What got the players to this point started when they took their first saxophone lesson at age eight,” said Joshua Bayer, director of AU’s Jazz Orchestra. “The effort really begins then.”

The concert opened with a guest performance from Georgetown University musicians, conducted by Georgetown’s Director of Jazz Studies Paul Bratcher. The ensemble then took the stage to play nine pieces from a variety of composers. 

Whether it was the boisterous, “Any Dude’ll Do” by Bill Holman or Ann Ronell’s mellow and wistful “Willow Weep For Me,” the program’s variety ensured the performance kept the audience rapt with attention. 

Among the pieces played was “Uneven,” a fast-paced original composition by Bayer. It was named for its intentional lack of standard measure construction, which is normally a staple of western music.

“It’s nice to expose the players to that,” Brayer said. “Newer music is breaking out of traditional structure.”

The solos were a prominent element of the performance, many by seniors who are graduating this spring. 

Whether it was senior Natalie Flynn on the saxophone during “Two Timin’” or senior Thomas Henry Lowenstein on the guitar during “Are We There Yet?,” each solo showcased pure instrumental skill and garnered a round of applause from the audience.

During the last piece, Bayer took a microphone and held it next to Flynn’s saxophone to amplify the sound. The performance was met with cheers from across the recital hall.

Bayer expressed his best wishes to departing seniors looking to pursue music as a career. 

“We have a great success rate in sending students to become full-time musicians and performers,” Bayer said.

He also spoke highly of the soloists on stage. 

“I had one person expected to do one solo last night, but it turned out that they were doing so good, they decided to do another one.”

This was the last performance from the Jazz Orchestra this year, but the University’s Department of Art is hosting two more performances in the recital hall before the semester ends. On April 27 and 28, the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra performed Samuel Colebridge Taylor’s “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast,” followed by a Mixed Ensembles Concert on April 29. 

Editor’s note: Natalie Flynn is an audio editor for The Eagle. Flynn was not involved in the pitching, reporting, writing or editing of this story. 

This article was edited by Marina Zaczkiewicz, Clair Sapilewski and Abigail Turner. Copy editing by Luna Jinks and Charlie Mennuti

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