The CSUN vocal jazz ensemble placed first in their category among the four-year colleges performing at the 44th annual Reno Jazz Festival last weekend.
The festival was held at the University of Nevada and is one of the largest of its kind in the country.
The vocal jazz ensemble left CSUN together with three of the university’s jazz bands early Friday morning on the eight-hour bus ride to Reno. The group normally consists of 14 students, but two of them had other obligations and could not make the trip.
After arriving in Reno, the ensemble gathered in professor Matt Falker’s hotel room for a short rehearsal because they had to perform at 8:25 a.m. the next morning.
The group had time for one last rehearsal early Saturday morning and they felt good going into their performance.
Alvin Henry, sophomore music industry major, said he was surprised how good they were sounding so early in the morning. The quality of their final practice carried over to the performance and they wooed the panel of adjudicators, which included Grammy nominated jazz musician Michele Weir, on their way to winning first price in their class as best four-year college choir.
Had it not been for Falker, none of this would have been possible. The music department canceled the vocal jazz ensemble class for this semester and Falker had to work his way around some obstacles to put a class together.
The students had to enroll as a jazz combo instead of an ensemble and Falker had to take a pay cut in order to make it work.
The end result has become a success story and Falker excitedly informed his students on Monday that the class will be reinstated by the music department for next semester.
Johan Mengesha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org