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Musical excellence resonates with grand harmony

By Logan Fassbinder
posted May 26, 2011

Once again the sounds of scats and jives will be filling the soul-filled skies of downtown Oshkosh with the arrival of this year’s Jazz in the Park. The event will take place in the Grand Opera House square, where the West Jazz Band, Mixed Vocal Jazz, and Girls Vocal Jazz, will be performing the songs of the classic jazz age. Coordinators of the event, which will take place on June 5 at 3:00 p.m., hope to keep it open and welcome to everyone.

“This is the fourth year we’ve done it. It’s just kind of a big end of the year celebration to show everything we’ve learned for the whole year,” said band director Daniel Singer. “Every year it’s grown both in the music we play, the amount of stuff we do, and the quality we play, and I guess in attendance, with people knowing that it’s happening.”

Along with hoping for an amplification in public turnout, event organizers are anxiously anticipating favorable weather, as the event has grown a notorious reputation for being relocated due to adverse weather conditions.

“This year we’re hoping we’ll actually be outside,” said Singer. “Four years ago, we played at the Leach Amphitheater outside, and it was a beautiful day. But over our last two years it’s been raining so we’ve had to move it indoors.”

Including the hopeful changes in climate, the event will also be relocated this year from its normal site at the Leach Amphitheater to the Grand Opera House Square, due to an unfortunate scheduling conflict.

“This year we wanted it at the Leach again. But then Irish Fest changed their weekend and they got their reservation in before we did,” Singer explained. “Mr. Berendsen and I drove around town looking at parks for possible locations and we thought the Opera House Square was perfect.”

In an attempt to continue their tradition of maintaining quality musical performances at a low price, Jazz in the Park will once again be free to all those who have an interest or love of the art.

“We’re keeping it free, partly because we want to provide jazz to our community for supporting us,” Singer said. “There’s no way to have a gate for admission.”

Participants look forward to showcasing their love of jazz to the greater Oshkosh community. Members of the Mixed Vocal Jazz and the Girls Jazz groups give up their free time to prepare for these types of events.

“I love jazz just because it’s a really fun form of music. It’s not like the classical variety that we do in class,” said senior Sara Hansen. “It’s something that’s fun to listen to that people can dance to or just tap their foot to it. So if they come they can just enjoy the music.”

Songs that will be played spring from a host of soul-filled jazz musicians; they range from such artists as Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. One of the main goals that the jazz groups had for the event was to increase public attendance, and create a wider demographic of those attending.

“I would love to see people from the community come and check it out and that would be a good opportunity for them to see what we’re doing here at West High School. There are a lot of good things happening in the music department and we really enjoy sharing that with the community,” said Singer.

Members of the Jazz band agreed, citing the unique nature of a jazz concert to be one of the most enticing factors to attend.

“It’s a lot more relaxing than just your regular concert style,” said senior Eli Martinez. “It’s tough to explain, but you really have to come to find out what it’s all about.”

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