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Music department previews fall performances

The Music Department has several plans for the new semester that involve keeping the community engaged in the arts and ensuring that students continue to have the opportunity to sing, play and march.

Kevin Simons, director of choirs and professor of music, said music was a fundamental aspect of SVSU’s culture.

“The arts, and music, are part of what make a university a university, and not just a job training center,” Simons said. “The performing arts are an important part of the human experience, and at SVSU we seek to better understand how to perform better and what it’s role is in our society.”

Colin Wood begins his first year of teaching as a music professor this fall and he is excited for what the department has in store.

“We have many great student performances scheduled this semester from all of our ensembles,” Wood said. “One concert in particular I want to mention is the Rhea Miller Concert Series Guest Artist Derek Brown, who will be performing on campus Friday, Nov. 19. Brown is an innovative and dynamic musician who has pioneered a unique technique he calls ‘Beatbox Sax,’ incorporating elements from beat boxing with saxophone playing simultaneously.”

Wood said that he hopes to offer more opportunities for students to involve themselves with jazz and other music, whether they are in the music department itself.

Teaching students to improvise is part of his goal, which he realizes by directing the jazz ensembles and teaching music theory classes.

“Improvisation is beneficial to musicians in whatever field they decide to pursue – education, performance, scholarship, composition, or some combination thereof,” Wood said. “Learning to improvise also promotes important skills for any profession, like critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. … Improvisation can be used as a gateway to engage with and understand musical cultures from around the world, so it can open students up to opportunities and ways of thinking that they might not have encountered before.”

Brandon Haskett begins the fall semester in his 11th year as a professor in the music department.

“Music allows us opportunities to come together as a community and enjoy expressive art-forms that reflect aspects of our cultures,” Haskett said.

Coronavirus restrictions are something the music department continues to monitor and adapt to in a continued effort to keep the music department engaged and performing while ensuring the safety of the university community.

“As of this moment, it appears that in-person concerts are likely; however, that could change,” Haskett said. “I do anticipate restrictions in the number of audience members for indoor concerts.”

Despite current and potential future COVID restrictions, the music department is excited to offer several recitals throughout the course of the fall semester. This includes, but is not limited to, wind ensemble and flute choir concerts in October, a jazz combo recital and marching band concert in November, and a jazz ensemble and Valley Steel concert in December.

With all these events planned for the fall semester, the music department is excited to kick off the new year on a high note.

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