By Bethany-May Howard
The Rider University jazz ensembles, Vox Blue and Vox Blue Too, will unite with their performance of “Both Sides Now” on April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater.
Named after the Joni Mitchell song, the show will feature a selection of works from the American Songbook, Latin Jazz and Joni Mitchell performed by three students from both the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses.
“I chose these particular pieces of music because they are diverse and represent many different styles of music,” said conductor and visiting professor of music Tim Brent. “It’s critical that we are global citizens, and that we come to understand the different cultural elements that unify us and also identify each different culture.”
The reasoning behind the title of the show comes from Joni Mitchell’s influential musical legacy and the inclusiveness that was created by bringing Westminster and Lawrenceville students together.
“Mitchell is one of the most iconic female American composers of the 20th century,” said Brent. “I chose her song, ‘Both Sides Now,’ because I felt that it embraced the fact that through the groups I conduct, I was able to unite the Princeton campus and the Lawrenceville campus, and allow students from both places to join together to make music.”
Previous musical ensembles under Brent’s direction have been awarded three DownBeat Magazine awards, and have earned him invitations to perform at the Jazz Educators national conference and the first annual Choral Symposium in Costa Rica.
“Watching the students experience the joy of music making in an ensemble setting is the best part about conducting a group,” he said. “The energy they create and share, and the passion and dedication they exhibit are truly incredible.”
The two jazz ensembles meet once a week for rehearsals where they learn to incorporate new strategies and techniques into their performances.
“We are very close to concert ready. It is now all about memorization and ironing out the little details,” said freshman music education major Isaiah Washington, one of the two tenors in Vox Blue Too. “Other than that, we are very excited.”
The audience can expect a variety of both accompanied and a cappella music that will have them “bopping in their seats, feeling the beat and loving to groove along,” said Washington.
The show will put a focus on improvisation where some pieces require members to sing lines with notes and syllables of their choice.
“This [improvisation] expands the chords and adds a complex dynamic to the music,” said Washington. “It’s something that is incredible to experience live.
“As musicians, our main mission is to touch the lives of others. My hope is that people will walk out of the auditorium feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and truly touched.”
Admission to the show will be free for all Rider students and staff, and is available at the door. Tickets will cost $20 for adults and $15 for non-Rider college students and senior citizens. These tickets are available now from the box office at 609-896-7775, or online via the Rider University website.
Printed in the 4/05/17 edition.