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Festival of Music: The Jazz single Reed Symposium

Amid the hustle and bustle of students going in and out of class, eager to be free for the weekend, students who play jazz instruments were given the chance to participate in the Annual Single Reed Symposium. Organized by Christy Banks, assistant chair of the Music Department, the Symposium is an all day festival of jazz music between 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 9 at the Ford Atrium in McComsey Hall. Starting early, students who had either a few weeks or a lifetime of experience with their instruments were invited to register for the day’s events. Bringing their own instruments, this free event gave students the chance to work with professional musicians who specialized in the same instrument. The guests were Frank Kowalsky on the clarinet and Chris Vadala on the saxophone.

Frank Kowalsky, professor of the clarinet at Florida State University, has traveled all over the United States as the principle clarinetist with a number of orchestras such as the United States Marine Band, Rochester Philharmonic, Northwood Orchestra and Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. Some of his recent activities include a tour in England as a guest soloist and numerous national tours with the Trio Con Brio. Kowalsky has also served as a musical director for the Tallahassee Ballet, Evening of Music and Dance, and regularly attends the Seattle Chamber Music Festival.

Chris Vadala, declared one of the country’s foremost woodwind artists, has not been given this title without reason. He has tenure as a woodwind artist with the internationally recognized Chuck Mongione Quartet, which incorporates performances in all states and many countries around the world such as China, Brazil, Japan, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Belgium, and more. Vadala has performed credits on five gold and two platinum albums, Grammys, one Emmy, and multiple Golden Globe Awards. Recently, as of 2009, he has become a regular member of the Award-Winning Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

With such an exciting line up of guest musicians, the students who attended the symposium were given a real treat to participate in the Master classes taught by both Kowalsky and Vadala. Student Christy Banks was featured, and they were given a chance to demonstrate their talents as well as improving their skill by working side-by-side with their master class mentors. Even the students who had just come to watch were able to take away something from the experience. Alyssa Eichen, a junior Music major, said, “Watching others being taught helps a lot.”

Over the course of the day, the events spanned from the master classes, to several performances, “The Brown Bag Potpourri Concert” with the Symposium faculty, workshops, and a closing recital performed by Frank Kowalsky at the St. James Episcopal Church. Food all you-can-eat pizza and make your own sandwiches were provided throughout the day.

This festival was a celebration of Jazz music and an educational experience for aspiring musicians. “I’m very grateful to Christy Banks,” Hope Greenleaf, a junior Musical education major, said, “It’s a great opportunity.”

The Single Reed Symposium was a wonderful opportunity for those interested in learning more about Jazz music.