Jazz Ensemble has vital role for school

Editor’s note: This profile is the second in a weekly series this month about the world of music.

 

By Eric Norwood Jr.

PNT staff writer

enorwood@pntonline.com

Eastern New Mexico University’s Jazz Ensemble have been an integral part of the college’s music scene since at least the early 1950s.

Eric Norwood Jr.: Portales News-Tribune The Eastern New Mexico University Jazz Ensemble rehearses in preparation for its concert scheduled for tonight.

Eric Norwood Jr.: Portales News-Tribune
The Eastern New Mexico University Jazz Ensemble rehearses in preparation for its concert scheduled for tonight.

There are even copies of the first LP stereo album recorded by the Jazz Ensemble in the 1970s floating around campus in original record form. The album was recorded at Norman Petty Studios in Clovis.

The school’s Wind Symphony was started in 2003.

The bands, who will perform be making their inaugural performances of the semester this weekend, are a select group of musicians.

“All members have to audition, every semester,” said ENMU Director of Bands Dustin Seifert, who also directs the Wind Symphony.

“This year we have quite a few freshmen and non-music majors. It’s based 100 percent on performing ability. It’s kind of like sports. You want your best players on the field,” said Seifert, who started the Wind Symphony with other faculty members.

The 50- to 55-member group consists of a woodwind section, a brass section, and percussion. Practice is three hours a week, and they’ve been rehearsing since the second week of school. The symphony has become a large part of campus, performing five concerts a year, plus multiple other performances off campus.

“The first one is always in October. We’ve been working on some very challenging repertoire, so the students have been working hard to get this all prepared,” said Seifert.

Contemporary classical music will be played this weekend by the Wind Symphony.

“The oldest song we’re going to play is from the 1950s,” said Seifert.

The Jazz Ensemble is directed by new ENMU Director of Jazz Studies Richard Schwartz, who comes to Portales from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La.

Schwartz has already begun implementing his own personal flair.

“Personally, I try to give a variety of contexts, styles, composers and eras,” said Schwartz.

The 17 -member Jazz Ensemble is considerably smaller than the Wind Symphony, but that doesn’t stop the saxophonists, trumpeters, trombonists, and rhythm section of this groovy group from anything.

“We’ve been rehearsing since the beginning of the school year. Our rehearsals consist of warming up, tuning, and going through every song,” said Schwartz.

Even though this is the first Jazz Ensemble performance for Schwartz, he isn’t shaken.

“I’m not nervous at all. The students are good so we’ll be fine,” said Schwartz.

 

FYI

  • What: Jazz Ensemble
  • When: 7 p.m. Friday
  • Where: ENMU’s Buchanan Hall
  • Admission: Free
  • What: Wind Symphony
  • When: 3 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: ENMU’s Buchanan Hall
  • Admission: Free

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