By Director of Jazz Studies Paul Rinzler
University Jazz Band members warming up at the Vortex
The University Jazz Band I played in London three times during its performance tour June 13-19, 2016. The audiences were great, the band outdid themselves at the gigs and everyone discovered that London is one of the great cities of the world.
The first performance was at the Vortex, second only to Ronnie Scott’s among London jazz clubs. The band performed a sampling of contemporary big band compositions, including pieces by Wayne Horvitz, Michael Abene, Adam Theis, and Fred Sturm, as well as a few by Count Basie and by Tower of Power. The club’s owner praised the band highly for its performance. He also said that, while the volume level of the band was perfectly fine for his venue, he did observe with typical British understatement that British big bands were, perhaps, more “delicate.”
The next night the band played at Spice of Life, a club in the Soho district, a center for entertainment and night clubs in London. Among the audience was a jazz fan from Bosnia-Herzegovina who stayed firmly planted less than 10 feet away from the front of the band for both sets. Notable at this venue was the necessity, given the physical layout of the stage, that the rhythm section set up on the opposite side of the horn section than is the standard throughout the jazz world. Apparently, just as the English drive on the other side of the street, the rhythm section at this club swings on the other side of the band. The band’s last performance was outdoors at a famous bandstand in Regent’s Park. This concert attracted a good-sized and appreciative crowd despite the threat of rain.
The band’s tour guide, Mark Watterson, regaled us with fascinating bits of information about London with his dry but near-constant sense of humor, and he helped the band immensely throughout the tour. Everyone in the band would like to thank Michele Abba and Druci Reese in the Music Department office, the College of Liberal Arts and everyone at the university who helped make the tour possible.
By Symphony Conductor David Arrivée
Clarinetists Austin Johnson and Matthew Klepfer, and flutist
Chelzea Furtado, in front of the Rudolfinum/Dvořak Hall
In June 2016, the Cal Poly Symphony traveled to Central Europe — its first international tour! The orchestra performed in the Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary; Dvořák Hall in Prague, Czech Republic; and St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. In each city, we collaborated with European choirs: the Prelude Choir of Budapest, Prague's Charles University Choir, Prague Singers and Vienna's Cantus Novus Wien.
The experience of playing music in these historical venues was incredible. It is a rare opportunity to perform music by Dvořák in Dvořák Hall in front of a Czech audience, after all!
We gave the European premiere of Professor Meredith Brammeier’s work for chorus and orchestra, “Blow, Winds, Rage, Blow!” and performed Fauré’s Requiem in each city. The European choirs thoroughly enjoyed Brammeier’s work, and took great pains in mastering its Shakespearian English. Repertoire also included works from each country we visited.
Cal Poly faculty and staff who joined the orchestra for this tour were: Brammeier, whose work we performed; Christopher J. Woodruff, who played in the orchestra; and Paul Woodring, who performed on a different organ in each city.
In each of these world-class cities, we benefited from a guided tour and a balance between planned activities and free time, during which symphony members could explore on their own. Travelers enjoyed the huge variety of cultural sights these cities offered and relaxed a bit in their down time.