Luther College Chips

Jazz Orchestra recruits in the Rockies

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Pablo Gómez Estévez (‘17) plays piano at Augustana Luthern Church.

Pablo Gómez Estévez (‘17) plays piano at Augustana Luthern Church.

Photo courtesy of David Blackstad (‘19)

Photo courtesy of David Blackstad (‘19)

Pablo Gómez Estévez (‘17) plays piano at Augustana Luthern Church.

Xavier Conzet, Staff Writer

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Luther College Jazz Orchestra took advantage of Spring Break to tour and perform while recruiting jazz students.  The ensemble left on March 17 to fly to Colorado for their recital and recruitment tour.

Colorado was chosen for this year’s tour location because Jazz Orchestra member Elena Zarecky (‘17) is from the state. Zarecky had strong connections to the high schools and churches in the area.

They performed at numerous venues including Augustana Lutheran Church and Cheyenne Mountain High School.

The performance at Cheyenne Mountain High School particularly stood out to Zarecky.  The high school Zarecky once attended opened for Jazz Orchestra’s performance.

“To be back in my high school band room with my high school director was a great experience,” Zarecky said. “My high school band director helped shape me into the musician I am today.” 

In addition to the musical performances, Adjunct Faculty in Music Jon Ailabouni (‘10) and Professor of Music Tony Guzman held workshops for the high school students. Guzman believes that opportunities like these help turn young jazz enthusiasts into prospective jazz students for Luther.

“When we tour we always see young students in the audience and they are drawn to jazz,” Guzman said. “The jazz department definitely impacts many students’ decision to attend Luther.”

Jazz Orchestra member David Blackstad (‘19) agreed that these tours help bring prospective jazz music students to Luther. 

“I’m positive that the jazz department is a major draw for students,” Blackstad said. “It is of the same importance as any major area in the Luther music department. Students that come to Luther can focus in vocal performance, primarily opera, classical instrumentalist music, and now jazz.” 

Photo courtesy of David Blackstad (‘19)
Jazz Orchestra visits the Garden of the Gods in Colorado.

Blackstad added that the music department recently started jazz recital performances. According to Guzman, these make it possible to have a richer jazz education for those going into that field.

“The Luther College Jazz Program isn’t just an elective or fun activity for me,” Blackstad said. “This program is my career training. It pushes me to improve in every area of my musicianship from improvisation to woodwind doubling.”

Blackstad said he has grown as a musician from individual saxophone, flute, and clarinet lessons and from being a member of the jazz orchestra, combos, and tours.  He said that the jazz department equips him with the tools he needs to be a successful graduate student after Luther.

“All of the logistical reasons aside, the jazz department is where I spend my time creating musical art and developing my ideas and philosophy of why I play several hours a day,” Blackstad said.

Blackstad feels that he has found a deep connection in jazz. Other students on the tour also found that the experience helped them to develop as musicians and prepare them for life after Luther.

“The tour was amazing, and the people we stayed with were amazing. Everything was amazing,” Christopher Lange-Pearson (‘19) said. “We had an amazing time performing and received tons of praise and compliments from people attending.” 

There was an alumni reception after one of the performances. According to Lange-Pearson, the experience of meeting alumni of the jazz orchestra was  positive.

“I really enjoyed being able to bond with the rest of the ensemble,” Lange-Pearson said.

Jazz Orchestra returned to campus on March 23. Upon their return to campus, Jazz Orchestra performed their homecoming concert on March 30 in the Center for Faith and Life.

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