The Jazz ensembles kicked off the winter concert series on Friday, December 1, at Santa Fe Prep. This year the Jazz Rep Orchestra program included a medley of Disney tunes, and the jazz vocals of Joshua Waltman and Amelia Mazzentini-Clark. Jazz Performance improvised an esoteric version of Chick Corea's "Sea Journey," successfully captained by Johnathan Ware. Both groups combined for a rousing version of our new theme song, "Watermelon Man." We’re excited to keep getting the word out and grow these groups in numbers and reputation! Below are photos of the groups rehearsing with Jazz Director Chris Ishee.
Photos: Artotems Co.
On Saturday we moved to the Scottish Rite Temple for the remainder of the weekend. This was a new venue for our students and provided a wonderful look at history and a fresh background for SFYSA students who are used to performing at the St. Francis Auditorium.
With record enrollment in the Elementary Strings program at our new school, Amy Biehl, we had a wonderful spread of students from across the city perform with us for the first time. Each level played beautifully together, and we are all very proud! Special thanks goes to our wonderful teachers. Christine Chen, who has been with us for 6 years, and two new teachers Sage Barton and Rodrigo Pessoa. The students are very lucky to have them! "I look forward with excitement and joy to what's next for our students in the spring semester!" - Haley Lovelace, ES Co-Director.
Saturday evening was the first formal concert for our new SFYSA Mariachi Director Santiago Romero, and it was a great success! For many students in Mariachi Garibaldi, the winter 2017 concert was particularly important, as it was the first time they'd performed in front of an audience. Performing live helps to link how classroom time and lessons relate to the performance piece and why it’s so important practice. For many, this was a big weekend for overcoming stage fright and developing faith in themselves. Several Garibaldi students also sang for the first time. "You can see the immediate effects on their self-esteem," Mr. Romero shared, "all the kids sang and they felt supported."
A highlight for the advanced group, Mariachi Estrella, was stretching to perform choruses in two and three-part harmony as an ensemble. Mr. Romero explained that one of the current goals for this advanced ensemble is to support the students and build their confidence to perform on their own -- without instructors -- and to work on memorizing performance pieces. We know they are on their way!
Photos: Dorothy Bowers-Wu, ES Co-Director
Prelude String Orchestra students played beautifully at the Winter Concert! They performed 4 pieces, including Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D - everything in 3 part harmony. No easy feat for these beginning students. They watched and listened like pros. Go PSO! New PSO conductor, Carla Kountoupes, "was thrilled for [her] inaugural concert with SFSYA. [She] feels so fortunate to be part of such an amazing community organization that touches so many families in Santa Fe."
Sunday in the Scottish Rite Temple was all Orchestras! We started with a joint performance of the Intermezzo String Orchestra and Youth Philharmonic.
The Intermezzo String Orchestra performed for the first time under the baton of Elizabeth Young, who we are so glad to have on our Artistic Team. She brought together a wide range of experience and ages to perform wonderfully from a Baroque beginning, through an arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and finishing with the very festive Dance of the Tumblers! After an intermission to reset the stage, the Youth Philharmonic was led in performance by Ryan Finn, another new member of our artistic team! Finn’s students played marvelously and they all enjoyed the beauty of the venue. Mr. Finn was especially proud of how the students performed Mozart's Symphony no. 36, “The Linz.” ISO and YP came together to finish the concert, playing a celebratory holiday medley.
We finished our winter concert series with the Youth Symphony Orchestra, under the guidance of William Waag, who is also our Director of Orchestras.
The concert included Keenan McDonald's Marimba Concerto, which was well received. This was the the first time, during Mr. Waag's tenure, that a percussion instrument was featured in a concerto, and SFYSA’s new flute choir, coached by Dorothy Bowers-Wu, also performed in concert for the first time. Mr. Waag remarks that "the YSO ensemble is getting larger, and has its most robust sound since I came to Santa Fe. It's exciting."
Photos: Artotems Co.
Finally, SFYSA Operations Assistant, Susan Brown, who is now into her second year on staff, shared her experience of the concerts. “This was the first time I have heard all the ensembles in concert and I can't tell you how impressed I am with the talent and hard work I observed. I would like to thank all the parent volunteers as well. Their help at these events is so important; we couldn't put on these concerts without them. On a personal note, it was a pleasure to meet the families and put faces with names.”
All in all it was a grand success and fantastic finale to our fall semester!
Our jazz students headed to Hummingbird Music Camp last weekend for a fabulous retreat overnight, with beautiful weather, lots of learning and fun. For many of our students, this was their first experience with such an intensive rehearsal and workshop schedule. They all got A LOT done in a short period of time and felt very satisfied. Christopher Ishee, SFYSA Jazz Director shares, "We had a moment right before we finished Saturday that was musically amazing and everyone recognized it as something that wouldn't have been accomplished without our full day of work together."
Fabulous musician and recording artist, Rusty Crutcher joined Ishee and together they had time to work with each student one-on-one in a 30-45 minute session of private instruction. Crutcher worked with the winds and Ishee with the rhythm section. The combination of ensemble time and intensive one-on-one support made magic happen that is only really possible in a setting like this.
The group also made the most musically of being out in nature. They spent time listening to "found sounds" (and passing motorcycles, etc.) and turned them into musical ideas resulting in a 4-5 min. piece that Ishee says took them through an imagined 24 hr cycle of the day.
They also got to enjoy the wonder of being at camp, the fun a campfire night, and meeting the 97-year-old camp founder and NM Music icon Wanda Higgins.
By Andrea Cassutt, Executive Director
This summer on August 12, 2017 at the Santa Fe Railyard, a number of our Jazz ensemble musicians joined local artists in a tribute to David Bowie. Building upon the success of the summer 2016 Santa Fe Salute to Prince, local Santa Fe-based musicians united once again to honor a lost musical genius. Santa Fe Salutes David Bowie presented a diverse array of some of Santa Fe's finest musicians performing their favorite Bowie songs. The three-hour show featured a house band of Santa Fe music scene stalwarts backing a steady stream of special guests. This timely tribute brought together a wide range of the city's best creative talents to honor the legacy of the late, great, David Bowie.
SFYSA jazz ensemble musicians had the opportunity to join the house band on several songs, and were special guests on the song Modern Love that features a full section of jazz saxophones! SFYSA Jazz Director and one of the event coordinators, Christopher Ishee said, “Everyone in the core band was super-stoked to be able to get our kids involved, and they were impressed by how they handled the pressure!”
SFYSA is always looking for performance opportunities for our students and particularly the great learning experience of playing with professional musicians. Our students were able to use this performance to learn how a horn section works in a contemporary music setting, and to create a reference point for showing up for a professional gig. There was very little rehearsal time for everyone involved in the event, and our students came through with flying colors.
A special thank you to Delmone Taylor -- professional saxophonist, educated at the University of New Mexico, who has played professionally for 23 years and shared the stage with many top artists including The Temptations, KISS, Steel Pulse, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Joe Alessi of the New York Philharmonic, and others -- for his support and willingness to let our saxophone section take over for Modern Love.
For the first time in its more than 20 year history, Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association (SFYSA) students came together and performed in a collaborative spring musical showcase on Tuesday, April 25th at The Lensic Performing Arts Center! This 90-minute concert featured students from the Jazz, Mariachi, and Orchestra programs, highlighted the excellence of students and staff, and was a wonderful opportunity to introduce ourselves to the Santa Fe Community.
The “Music for Everyone” showcase served to inaugurate the inclusive phrase as SFYSA’s new tagline. For almost 23 years, SFYSA has made a place for all young musicians ages 7 to 18 by expanding performance and instruction opportunities beyond orchestra to include jazz and mariachi.
The jazz ensemble kicked off the momentous night which featured various cross-ensemble and professional collaborations.
Part of the magic of the night was witnessing SFYSA students share their personal stories about their inspiration to start playing an instrument and how SFYSA has created a community for them as young musicians.
Youth Philharmonia and Youth Symphony Orchestras performed "Pavane" by Gabriel Faure with jazz quartet Andy Kingston, piano; Dave Anderson, soprano saxophone; Jon Gagan, bass and John Trentacosta, drums.
The Santa Fe Youth Symphony said goodbye to two wonderful conductors, Richard Snider and Karles McQuade, who dedicated many years to the success of the SFYSA.
The Mariachi Estrella ensemble collaborated with the Youth Symphony Orchestra in an homage to the late Juan Gabriel, world class pop and Spanish music master who donated to the SFYSA Mariachi program just before his untimely death in August 2016.
Intermezzo String Orchestra students celebrated their final performance with conductor Karles McQuade with a world premier of "Zozobra" a commissioned piece by local composer Monica Demarco.
For El Sueno de la Munequita, the Intermezzo String Orchestra collaborated with young dancers Grace Alexander, Flynn-Bella Ericson, Gigi Kalangis and the Ortiz Middle School Guitar Orchestra, directed by SFYSA Mariachi Director, Jesus Gachupin.
SFYSA Jazz and Mariachi ensembles performed for delighted El Castillo residents on Sunday afternoon (March 12).
El Castillo is a continuing care retirement community in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico,
It was great collaborating with the greater New Mexico music community! I would definitely recommend it for future students!"
Kudos to the Jazz Performance Ensemble for bringing home an 'Excellent' rating from the Albuquerque and University of New Mexico's Jazz Festival on Feb. 18, 2017. This was the first trip to the festival for the ensemble.
Outstanding Improvisation awards were presented to Davis Harris (guitar), Beckett Maestas (guitar and piano), Max McCumber (sax), Johnathan Ware (sax), and Ben Ciener (bass).
Beckett Maestas was also named Outstanding Guitarist of the entire festival. General comments from the adjudicators mentioned our musician's creativity, groove, and the multi-instrumental capacities of Jonathan and Beckett.
Other highlights of the festival included a musical, informative, and humorous clinic by saxophonist Jeff Coffin and the closing concert featuring Jeff and drummer Matt Wilson with the UNM Jazz Band and the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra.
- Chris Ishee, Jazz Director
WHAT OUR JAZZ STUDENTS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE
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Our Mission is to inspire and engage the youth of Northern New Mexico's multicultural communities through excellent music education, the guidance of music professionals, and performance opportunities from small ensemble to full orchestra in Jazz, Mariachi and Orchestra.