Cadence and Career Tips
VCU Jazz Studies hosts alumni concert
University Public Affairs
Swinging melodies resonated through the walls of the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall Sunday, Sept. 9, as alumni of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Jazz Studies program reunited for a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience celebrating the program and the School of the Arts’ Department of Music.
The evening, “A Jazz Reunion with Alumni and Friends,” was orchestrated by Antonio Garcia, director of the VCU Jazz Studies Program, and consisted of 14 alumni of VCU’s Department of Music along with a former faculty member. Garcia helped to organize the jazz players into various small combos in order to present a wide variety of music, including some of their own compositions.
“When the concert day arrived, it was terrific to watch all 15 guests reunite for the first time that afternoon in rehearsal,” said Garcia. “The performances themselves were superb, but the weekend also afforded some of our most visible alumni, along with one former instructor, the opportunity to re-connect with VCU Music in a very tangible way.”
Those connections included sharing personal stories of struggles and successes as jazz musicians in the real world.
“Several of the alumni presented eye-opening workshops to our students on music and career aspects the day before the concert,” said Garcia. “VCUarts students always benefit from receiving business advice, in addition to musical tips.”
The night itself, however, was all about the music.
“It is nice to play in the place where I formulated my ideas regarding music,” said drummer Clarence Penn, 1991 graduate of the Jazz Studies program and now a professional musician. “I spent many hours in VCU's practice rooms hoping for the day of becoming a professional musician. It's amazing to see and play with everyone.”
In conjunction with Sunday night’s concert, the Jazz Studies program released a new CD, “Front Burner,” featuring the Jazz Orchestra I, student jazz combos and faculty compositions from five live performances.
The event was supported by the Department of Music, VCU’s Jazz Studies program, the VCU School of the Arts and the VCU Alumni Association.
The VCU Department of Music presents more than 200 concerts and recitals each year ranging from student recitals and ensemble concerts to performances by faculty and world-renowned guest artists. More than 300 students are enrolled in the department, where they pursue studies as music educators, instrumental soloists, opera singers, chamber musicians and more.
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