Get into the jazz, rhythm, and blues

Jazz students perform Sunday night in the Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall. Photo Credit / Crystal Smith
Jazz students perform Sunday night in the Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall. Photo Credit / Crystal Smith
Jazz students perform Sunday night in the Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall.
Photo Credit / Crystal Smith

By Crystal Smith
Asst. A&E Editor

On April 27, the East Stroudsburg University Music Department held their Spring Vocal Jazz Concert in the Fine & Performing Arts Center on campus with guest pianist Wolfgang Knittel and director Dr. James Maroney.

The jazz singers kicked off the show with a group performance of “Duke’s Place”, “Rainy Days and Mondays”, and “Cheek to Cheek,” with solos from Elena Zervos and Shaun Copeland.

After an explosive response from the audience, the group shifted to solo acts that consisted of three songs with guest pianist Wolfgang Knittel.

Victoria Oberdick sang a soulful “I Only Have Eyes For You,” Shaun Copeland performed a romantic rendition of “When I Fall In Love,” and Lauren Sarenses sang an exciting “Come Fly With Me.”

The group then came back together to perform “All of Me” and “Sway.”

The group then shifted to three more solo acts with guest pianist Wolfgang Knittel. Sophia Thompson performed a heartfelt “Stars Fell On Alabama,” Marcus Howard sang a jazzy “Triste,” and Elena Zervas performed a fantastic “I Get A Kick Out of You.”

The group ended their concert with “Stolen Moments,” “Fields of Gold,” and “Tangerine.”

The group captured the essence and soul of jazz, and the audience was more than appreciative, tapping their toes and swaying their bodies.

Dr. Maroney ended the concert with a sincere thank you, while the group bowed to the applauding audience.

Dr. James Maroney, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at ESU, took a few moments to give a glimpse into a busy university singer’s life.

A student wishing to become part of the group must first pass a vocal performance audition and, after being admitted, the student rehearses two hours a week in a regular class setting. This prepares the student for the end-of-semester concert that is free and open to the public.

Dr. Maroney has been the group’s director since his arrival at ESU in fall 2001. Dr. Maroney also touched on his future plans, which include always preparing for each semester.

“In that way, an ensemble director is very much like an athletic coach,” said Maroney.

The style of music performed is arranged for jazz choirs with a rhythm section. Dr. Maroney spoke about the difficulties of composing this music.

“Some songs are very challenging, which is why it’s an auditioned group,” he said.

Along with singing, the members are able to perform a solo jazz song with a backing rhythm section. Some of the jazz styles include: jazz waltz, swing, samba, and a plethora of Latin style music.

“My favorite part of being involved is seeing how the singers evolve from the first rehearsal into a highly polished ensemble by the end of the semester,” said Dr. Maroney.

The ESU Jazz Ensemble has featured some talented and respected guest musicians, such as Benny Carter, Clark Terry, and Wolfgang Knittel.

On May 1 the Jazz Ensemble is performing again at 7 PM.

Come May 3, the Reading Band is performing from 12 PM to 3 PM, sponsored by Kappa Kappa Psi.

On May 4 at 7 PM, the 27th Annual Spring Band Concert will be held, featuring Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and piano soloist Dr. Betsy Buzzelli-Clarke, all under the direction of Dr. Otis C. French.

All performances are held in the Recital Hall of the Fine & Performing Arts Center and are open to the public at no cost.

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