Oklahoma Christian University’s well-established and successful jazz program will feature a few of their groups in a concert this Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Judd Theater.
Over the years, the department has produced several notable groups, artists and achievements according to Dr. Heath Jones, the program chair for music at Oklahoma Christian. These include Celeste Dvorak, who is this year’s distinguished music alumni, taking groups to Europe, playing on Caribbean cruises and more.
“Earlier this semester, we opened for the Oklahoma City Jazz Orchestra,” Jones said. “… We’ve had a lot of great guest artists, including Keith Anderson, a saxophone player from Prince’s band who has played with us several times. You can see a video of that performance on YouTube.”
Jones said the video is among the most viewed on Oklahoma Christian’s YouTube channel.
This concert will also feature several “guest artists.”
“There are students coming here from high school that we want to recruit. One is Crossings high school, the other is Metro Christian in Tulsa,” Jones said. “Right now, we have four students from Metro Christian that are in our Jazz Ensemble and will come perform with us in the spring. During this concert, 20 students from the Crossings jazz band will come perform with us.”
The opposite can happen too, with a student from Oklahoma Christian winding up at one of their schools.
“I’ve been friends with Crossings’ band director, Michael Brown, for a long time, and he called me saying, ‘Hey, we have a job opening in our music department, do you have a graduate you would recommend?,’” Jones said. “I recommended Preston Proc. He got hired and is now teaching at Crossings.”
In regards to Thursday’s concert, when asked what he most looked forward to, Jones highlighted the songs and soloists.
“We’re doing some big band classic music, we’re doing a couple of Latin features, but our soloists are really good too,” Jones said. “We’re playing a song called ‘The Poet,’ which is one of my all-time favorite songs, but in order to play that song, you have to have an incredible piano player. Aidan Orcutt is playing piano and it’s been a long time since I’ve had a piano player as good as he is.”
Some of the other songs will include Firing Line, El Caborojeno and Joy Spring.
Freshman Caleb Connor and junior Payton Welch both said they enjoyed being a member of Oklahoma Christian’s jazz band.
“I got into jazz band because the music was cool and different, but also because I enjoy being a part of a team that works together on one goal,” Conner said.
“I’m in jazz band because I’ve been in some sort of jazz band since I was in 8th grade,” Welch said. “It would feel weird if I wasn’t participating in one now.”
When asked what they most looked forward to in this production, both replied with similar sentiments – seeing everyone’s hard work pay off.
To see what show their preparation produced, the concert will be this Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Judd Theater.