21st annual Clark Terry/Phi Mu Alpha Jazz Festivals to feature renowned composer
The 21st annual Clark Terry Jazz Festival will return to the River Campus Feb. 1 for two days of reverence for one of America’s most well-loved genres.
This year’s festival will feature renowned composer and saxophonist Mike Tomaro, director of the jazz studies program at the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Joseph Jefferson, director of jazz studies at Southeast, said Tomaro is considered one of the great arrangers and composers of our time. A number of Tomaro’s compositions will be performed by both of Southeast’s studio jazz bands, the Jazz Lab and Jazz Studio Band, at the gala Friday night. Jefferson said the pieces he has chosen for the bands to perform range in skill level from intermediate to advanced, but his students are up to the challenge.
“I have a really young band, but they’re really ambitious as well,” Jefferson said.
The gala performances are preceded by clinic sessions throughout the day, offered both to Southeast students and students from 27 high schools in the surrounding region and St. Louis who are attending the events.
Jefferson said working closely with noted artists such as Tomaro and performing his work, some of which is rather complex, solidifies for the students the hard work and time they have put in.
The festival has become extremely important to the region, according to Jefferson. He said it’s an opportunity to foster respect for the genre, and he hopes it will pave the way for a larger scene for the style in the Cape Girardeau area.
“I really believe in giving [students] a comprehensive outlook on jazz,” Jefferson said. “From big-band standards to more modern music to swing-band music so that they can leave here with a comprehensive education or foundation on what jazz music is. Having such a high number of music education students, they’re probably going to be somebody’s band director, so it’s extremely important for them to know all of these aspects of jazz.”
He said jazz is a field where the artist never stops learning and discomfort is good because the artist is working to improve.
The festival is presented by Phi Mu Alpha, a Greek music organization that will work the event.
The gala performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall. Tickets ($12) are available online and at the River Campus box office.