College of Music Hosts Big Band Symposium

High school students from across the country gathered in June in the name of jazz music.

The MSU Big Band Symposium, hosted in June by the MSU jazz studies program, targeted specific students that MSU jazz studies professors call extremely advanced. The students were split into three bands lead by director of jazz studies Rodney Whitaker, assistant professor of jazz studies Diego Rivera and assistant professor of jazz studies Michael Dease. See video below.

“The program is by invitation only,” Rivera said. “These are students that we’ve met on the road or students that we’ve met from schools we’ve visited.”

Rivera said the Big Band Symposium is meant to push students beyond a level of musicianship that they think they can play and make them realize their full potential.

The students practiced for about five hours a day to perform on the last day of the Symposium at the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival in downtown East Lansing.

“My favorite part of the week is working with the students and seeing their final performance at the end,” Whitaker said. “The festival is a great example of how the MSU and East Lansing community work well together.”

The students ranged from entering high school in the upcoming school year to just graduating in the past spring.

“I’ve learned so much this week,” said Quinn Barcus, an Owosso High School junior. “We’re working with world-class musicians and I’ve had a lot of fun.”

Source: MSU Today, Katie Stiefel; video. Photos courtesy of Caroline Glaeser

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