Spring concerts emphasize ‘dynamics of communication,’ pop songs, jazz through the ages

Three concerts to be held in four days, April 27-30
Abbey Goers | April 25, 2022

UW-Stout singers and musicians will have a busy week as they warm up their voices and instruments for three concerts in four days.

Devil Tones Acappella will have a short performance of well-known pop songs from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27, at the Raw Deal, on Broadway in downtown Menomonie.

Director Jerry Hui and the UW-Stout Symphonic Singers.
Director Jerry Hui and the UW-Stout Symphonic Singers / UW-Stout

Then the UW-Stout Symphonic Singers, Chamber Choir and Devil Tones Acappella will present Communication, an evening of songs centered around the theme of communication. The concert will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 910 E. 9th St., in Menomonie.

And the Blue Devil Jazz Orchestra will present Jazz from Harvey at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, at UW-Stout’s Harvey Hall Theatre.

Tickets for the performances at Our Savior’s and Harvey Hall are $5 and are available online at tickets.uwstout.edu, at the Service Center in the Memorial Student Center, 715-232-1122, and at the door. The Devil Tones Acappella performance at Raw Deal is free and open to the public.

Of note in the April 29 concert is an original piece for choir and piano, “Three Divertissements,” composed by Director of Choral Activities Jerry Hui. Originally commissioned by the music program at UW-Stevens Point, the three short pieces take musical inspiration from the notification sounds of Twitter, Snapchat and Tinder, Hui said.

The concert will also feature a visually engaged short talk by Assistant Professor Candice Maier, of UW-Stout’s counseling, rehabilitation and human services department, on family communication.

“Our isolation during this pandemic has highlighted the importance of communication with other people,” Hui said. “In this concert, some pieces focus on the technology of communication. Some pieces bring out the different dynamics of communication within a family. Some pieces even examine the security in our methods of communication.”

Jazz that swings from past to present

The Jazz Orchestra is under the direction of Professor Aaron M. Durst. Durst and the students are excited to be back on the stage of the Harvey Hall Theatre to share the results of their music studies.

“The membership of the group changes each semester,” Durst said. “The music that fits the group’s instrumentation, strengths and interest is always an unknown going into each semester. Jazz is a great medium to provide a wealth of good songs that can adapt to those variables.” 

The concert will feature works in a variety of jazz styles, from big band and small group favorites that swing from the past and present, Latin dance styles and rock/fusion pieces. Durst described the pieces included in the concert:

 

The Jazz Orchestra practices before a performance
The Jazz Orchestra at practice / UW-Stout
  • “Jumpin’ East of Java” by Brian Setzer is a high energy swing chart.
  • “Blackwing Blues” by Doug Beach features a shuffle rhythm with a blues melody.
  • The Benny Golson melody “Whisper Not” provides a contrast with a haunting melody at a slower tempo.
  • “Slim Chickens” from Kris Berg is a lighter funky soul chart.
  • Minnesota composer Dean Sorenson wrote “Northwoods Sunrise,” inspired by mornings in the beautiful forests of northern Minnesota.
  • The familiar ballad “Georgia on My Mind” will be played by Maddie Hullander, a psychology major from Elk Mound.

Alex Kimble, a graduating senior from Prior Lake, Minn., majoring in computer science, will be featured playing trumpet for Mort Dixon’s “Bye, Bye Blackbird.”

Ira Hoffman, a graduating senior from Morris, Minn., majoring in applied mathematics and computer science, will sing “Come Fly With Me” by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, along with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Freddie Mercury. 

The concert will close with “Jazz Police” by Gordon Goodwin, a fast-action rock selection.

In addition, the Jazz Embers jazz combo will be a part of the concert, performing “So What” by Miles Davis, with the bass melody played by Spencer Berndt from Fish Creek, who is graduating in applied math and computer science. Other selections include “Back at the Chicken Shack” by Jimmy Smith, “All of Me” by Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks, and “More or Less” by Nicholas Fernandez. This ensemble specializes in small-group jazz, focusing on the study of improvisation.

For students graduating on Saturday, May 7, this will be their final opportunity to take the stage and perform with the band. Reflecting on making time to play with the band every semester, Kimball relates, “Band is the perfect break from working on schoolwork while still being productive. It is a great way to relax and meet like-minded people.” 

Hoffman added, “People should join band because being part of a large creative effort is good for the mind. It's definitely helped me through some stressful weeks.”

The UW-Stout theatre, bands and choirs welcome students to explore the performing arts and provide a creative outlet to develop skills as performers and to further refine their artistic talents. The university also offers a performing arts minor.


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