The Music Department’s Jazz Ensemble and Swanee Singers Prepare for their Annual Concert

ENMU's Swanee Singers rehearse for their upcoming concert. The Chase Photo: Amanda Brown

For the last several Februarys, the Eastern New Mexico University Music Department has put on a collaborative concert featuring its very own Jazz Ensemble and the Swanee Singers; this year is no exception.

The ensemble will perform in Buchanan Hall on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m., with free admission to all. The Jazz Ensemble will perform with the Swanee Singers, a group comprised of nine female sopranos and altos. The group will be accompanied by ENMU vocal coach Kayla Paulk and conducted by Director of Choral Activities Jason Paulk. The concert will be focused on jazz as well as contemporary a cappella music. The groups will perform separately, but attendees can look forward to two collaborations from the groups as they will come together to perform the classics “Fly Me to the Moon” and “L-O-V-E.”

Music professor Richard Schwartz and Jason Paulk are largely responsible for organizing the event. Schwartz, who conducts the jazz ensemble, said that the concert has been very successful in past years. When asked what it takes to prepare for a concert like this, Schwartz said, “The conductors will have to think about what kind of music, what kind of repertoire the band or ensemble will be performing. If it’s too challenging, it will be difficult for the students and the concert may or may not be as successful. If it’s too easy, the students lose interest.” He said you have to find a happy medium. “You want to set up the students to be successful.”

Schwartz encouraged students and faculty to attend the concert. “I think people should attend, first of all, because it’s fun. It’s always fun. Jazz concerts are great, exciting, emotionally tugging sometimes. And it’s great to see young students striving to become great artists, and this is the process.”

Schwartz is excited for one piece, “Some Skunk Funk,” that he described as being very challenging. The piece is composed by Randy Brecker and arranged by Mark Taylor. He looks forward to his students rising to the occasion to meet the challenge of the piece during their performance. The jazz ensemble will also showcase the talents of an Eastern student by playing a song composed and arranged by one of their fellow students, also a member of the jazz ensemble.

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