Voice students perform jazz and classical repertoire

by Denin Koch

Whitworth’s vocal arts were in full swing this week as the music program hosted a classical voice area recital on Monday, April 27. The jazz department put on a vocal jazz concert on Thursday, April 30. Both events were held in the Music Building Recital Hall.

The classical voice area recital featured students from all classes of the voice studio performing solos while accompanied by piano. Selections ranged from Renaissance music to 20th century poems set to music. Even included was a re-imagined show tune mocking the exotic tendencies of contemporary classical composers. The hour-long performance showcased a large variety of vocal talents from the music department.

Senior voice major Lise Hafso found the recital to be an enjoyable departure from typical solo recitals.

“It’s cool because you get to hear so many voices,” she said. “People are coming from different studios and are doing such a wide range of style. It’s really cool to see what all of your peers have been working on.”

Hafso is drawn to voice performance because of how easily she feels she can express herself, she says.

“It’s just the best way that I can express myself, through singing and performing,” she said. “It’s just a powerful experience for me.”

The concert was the culmination of director of jazz studies Dan Keberle’s vocal jazz class, which featured classical singers and musicians who chose to expand their schema. The singers were accompanied by an all-star combo of jazz faculty and professional musicians from the Spokane area. All of the music performed came from standard jazz repertoire. In several songs, the singers were joined by faculty trumpeter Keberle and saxophone professor Chris Parkin for improvised call and response.

The class is all about “teaching people who have a good voice and an interest in jazz how to sing in a jazz style,” Keberle said. “With talented students like we have at Whitworth, they all improve.”

Keberle said that the vocal jazz concert has a special energy.

“I like all the enthusiasm,” he said. “I love having the professional rhythm section there. I love having the enthusiasm that is always there.”

Senior voice major Sarah Nadreau said she enjoyed the unique experience of learning and singing the jazz style, which varies from her classical background.

“I liked it a lot,” she said. “I think the hardest part was not thinking so much about technique because in classical singing it’s all about how you take your breath and how you release it and in jazz it’s more about the feeling.”

Nadreau elaborated on communications between musicians, a hallmark of jazz that is less prevalent in classical voice performance.

“I tried to make eye contact [with pianist Brent Edstrom] and we interacted a lot more,” she said. “In classical singing your pianist is behind you so you can’t typically interact that way, but that kind of interaction is a priority in jazz.”

Freshman Travis Widmer, who attended both events, expressed excitement about the future of Whitworth’s vocal program.

“I thought they were both fantastic,” he said. “We have some really fantastic singers at Whitworth. It’s very cool to think that a lot of them are underclassmen. It’s going to be fun to see what they do in the next few years at Whitworth.”

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