Grand Valley Jazz Orchestra performs fall concert

By Carmen Smith | 10/16/16 8:40pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Tim Froncek GVSU band members practice for an upcoming concert inside the Performing Arts Center.

by Tim Froncek / Grand Valley Lanthorn

The first Grand Valley State University jazz orchestra concert of the semester, featuring songs from artists Erik Morales and Mike Tomaro, kept the audience swaying and snapping along with the music.

The 17-piece orchestra, led by GVSU music professor Tim Froncek, along with the two improvisation-based combinations, run by GVSU music professor Michael Drost, are made up entirely of GVSU students. After practicing since the beginning of the semester, the two jazz combinations made their fall semester debut with a concert Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre.

“I try to make it educational (and) entertaining. This music is serious but very creative, and sometimes it takes intense listening but other times it just feels good,” Froncek said. “This concert has all of those elements in it. It’s a great experience for both people who are new to jazz and those who know a lot about it.”

The combination groups each performed one piece of music with their own unique, improvisational spin on it. Each combination group is made up of five to six students, some of which are also in the full jazz orchestra.

“The jazz orchestra is very much like a traditional classical ensemble, with written melodies and structure but with solo sections for improvisation," said Steven Rothstein, a guitarist in the jazz orchestra. "The combos, however, allow for much more freedom. We get to choose how we arrange or structure the tune as well as improvise on it. It's a group effort and a deep way to converse with one another.”

Following the combinations, the jazz orchestra performed six pieces, including a variety of jazz arrangements.

“Jazz music is one of the greatest contributions to music. It’s a lot higher energy. The audience atmosphere is a lot more relaxed because our director will interact with them throughout the pieces and in between them,” said Brenden Hoekstra, a GVSU student and trumpet player in the jazz orchestra. “It’s really fun to watch, outside of just the listening part of it.”

The jazz orchestra will be putting on another concert this semester Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre.

“We've worked hard to bring the GVSU student body our music, so please, come to as many concerts as you can. There's nothing like live music,” Rothstein said.

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