Jazz ensemble grows in number, ability

The Marsh Center was filled with the sound of music as the Waynesburg University Jazz Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra performed Tuesday, April 16.

This concert served as both ensembles first and only performance of the semester. For many seniors, it was their last. PayneWissler, senior biology major and music minor, said the concert was sentimental.

“I’m definitely going to miss Waynesburg as a whole, but being able to play like this after college is kind of hard to find something like this,” Wissler said.  “You have to seek it out.”

Wissler has played violin for the orchestra in all four of his years at Waynesburg and has dabbled in the jazz ensemble as well. Throughout his time in college,  he said the groups have grown.

“We’ve really grown not just in size, but I think [in] our ability,” said Wissler. “We’ve gotten better and can play pieces that are a little bit more advanced.”

At the concert the ensembles played a variety of songs from established composers: Borodin, Prokofiev, Henderson, Porter, Mandel and many others. Wissler liked these choices of composers and enjoyed playing their songs.

“It was a lot of fun. They were really fun pieces to play,” he said. “I always like when we play kind of older things by more established composers.”

Dr. Ronda DePriest, professor of instrumental music and director of the music program, said their performance was great. This was the first year that the groups had performed at night.

“These two groups used to perform on the Chamber Works concert at noon that we have,” DePriest said.  “But getting this many bodies together during the day at noon is so hard.”

Because of this, last semester the groups performed on separate nights. However, this proved to be a problem in the spring because of conflicts with Stover Scholars.

“We put them together this time because so many of our orchestra members are Stover Scholars and we had the date down for last Friday night,” she said.  “They had their Stover trip so then we round up piggybacking with the jazz.”

DePriest said in the long run, everything worked out and the show ended up with a great audience.

“I made 75 programs and they’re all gone. So, we have at least 75 in the room,” DePriest said.

The groups have grown over the years in size due to the inclusion of the community and Fine Arts Academy students.

“Fine arts academy started a year ago spring. This is only our third or fourth semester that we’ve had it. We [also] opened it to the community members,” she said.

Despite the inclusion of these two groups, the loss of the graduating seniors is still going to affect both ensembles.

“We’re losing some people that have been with us since the start and it just makes me sweat every year because you don’t know what freshman are going to come in and take their place,” DePriest said.

Rachel Pelligrino

With the loss of one player from the jazz ensemble and four from the orchestra, DePriest said the group will continue to try and grow next year.

“We’ll do more of the same and just try and grow it and keep trying to fill more of the seats with Waynesburg students.”