By Caleigh Carlson
The vibrant, pastel collared shirts of the TCNJ Jazz Ensemble were not the only elements bringing color to the stage of Kendall Hall on Friday, April 15. The tremendously talented jazz band did what they do best and put on a wonderful performance. The stage was full of friendly faces that encouraged one another like a family. An essential part of its production was the head of this family, conductor Gary Fienberg.
“If you haven’t heard this tune yet, you need to get a life,” Fienberg jokingly said as he introduced the well-known tune of “Fantasy,” by Maurice White, Verdine White and Eddie Del Barrio.
On a more serious note, Fienberg was able to give intellectual and historical background behind each piece the ensemble performed. His dedication to the TCNJ Jazz Ensemble and passion for the musical numbers were clearly reflected in the show. The students, energized by this enthusiasm, lit up the stage. The amount of hours they prepared for the show were evident.
Sophomore music education major and saxophonist Erik Johnson spoke further about this practice and preparation.
“I would say I put in, personally, five hours a week, but as a group, together, we put in much more than that,” Johnson said. “(The Music Department at the College) has definitely opened my eyes to new types of music and even genres that I have never played before.”
As a part of other ensembles on campus, including the wind ensemble, Johnson noted that the TCNJ Jazz Ensemble is very relaxed. This “relaxed” feeling can be attributed to Fienberg’s genuine interest in making sure the students have fun. With that being said, there is no doubt the students worked extremely hard each week and dedicated a majority of their time to their instruments. Their diligence is what allowed the performance to be such a huge success.
The night’s setlist was arranged to fully demonstrated the talent of the students. Each piece included at least one solo, which was then followed by a roar of applause from the audience. The energy in the room was contagious.
The final piece was “The Great Divide,” by Don Ellis. It was accompanied by creative choreography in which the ensemble left the stage to play in the audience. Filling up the theater’s aisles, the students performed next to audience members. The crowd was able to get an up close look at the incredible talent of the jazz ensemble.
The success of the evening can be attributed to both the conductor and musical director Fienberg, as well as the Music Department at the College.
“I am extremely impressed by the Music Department here daily. Everyone is so passionate about what they are doing,” freshman nursing major and saxophonist Alex Sneddon said. “The professors are excited to teach and the students are excited to learn.”
It is this very passion that shined through the ensemble and into the audience. If the power were to have gone out, the TCNJ Jazz Ensemble would still have lit the stage.