Community groups are re-preparing for in-person performances
There is something magical about making music with friends.
Genesis Jazz Orchestra, a 17-piece big-band based in the Southeastern Subway, performed at Mears Park in St. Paul last month for the first time since February 13, 2020.
Genesis Jazz Orchestra director Conrad Miska said the crowd was ready for them.
“It is really evident that the audience is impatient and enjoying to hear live music again,” said Miska.
The next performance of the Genesis Jazz Orchestra is closer to home.
It’s slated for August 29 at Rosemount’s Central Park as part of ArtBlast where people can expect to hear “17 enthusiastic big band musicians perform music from the Great American Songbook, with selections from Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and more. “
“We play mostly popular tunes that most people would know as well as a clarinet section and a very moving arrangement by John Williams of” Summons the Heroes “, which will be dedicated to all who were intensive care workers, teachers, law enforcement, and many – everyone – heroes during this pandemic, ”director John Zschunke said.
The last time the band prepared for a show was about four days before COVID-19 closed large gatherings in 2020. They were scheduled to play a joint concert with the Rosemount High School wind ensemble on March 15, 2020. .
“We had rehearsed for months on this repertoire,” Zschunke said.
The Rosemount Community Band lay dormant for several months.
“I missed this wonderful group of musicians and friends,” said Zschunke. “I missed rehearsing once a week and making such wonderful music moments and seeing their smiling faces and their enthusiasm. We all missed the opportunity to end our concert season, but we may still be doing this concert in the months to come. “
Members of both bands had been used to playing with a band for decades.
“All of the GJO members were in the same situation of adding musical isolation and deprivation to our social isolation,” Miska said. “I can’t pretend it wasn’t brutal for all of us not to be able to make music together. Practicing alone or with a recording doesn’t go far.
Unlike some pandemic activities, Zoom was not a legitimate substitute for virtual practice.
“There’s really no way to play live music through Zoom or other similar apps,” Miska said. “Although some schools have used Zoom repeats during a pandemic, there is a need for everyone to turn off their microphones due to latency (delays). There are paid low latency apps that can play live music over the internet, but setup is complex and reliability may be incomplete.
Genesis Jazz Orchestra did not rehearse for 16 months, with the band members rehearsing twice before performing at Mears Park.
“Being together again was absolutely glorious,” said Miska. “And by the second rehearsal, we already had a really solid sound. It was obvious that the members were “coming to play” and had prepared themselves for it in advance.
The Rosemount Community Band gathered for their first rehearsal last spring.
“After performing the first part of the rehearsal, you could feel that magical feeling of belonging, pride and excitement that we all get when we come together,” Zschunke said. “When you stop, smiles, tears in your eyes, pride. What a great place to start healing as the pandemic began to subside. “
The Rosemount Community Band returns mostly with the same players. A few members weren’t ready to come back fully, Zschunke said, so new members joined.
For the Genesis Jazz Orchestra, everyone is back. With 17 members, every part is important. Miska said he has a list of replacements if someone can’t.
“Each chair needs to be filled for each rehearsal or performance, because each piece is unique and no piece is doubled,” Miska said. “To always fill every chair, we have a complete and talented sublist. We had four talented substitutes playing with us at Mears Park, including local jazz piano star Laura Caviani. Laura had just played at the local ‘Crooners’ jazz club the day before as part of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.
Members of the Rosemount Community Band range in ages from high school to musicians in their sixties and sixties.
Formed in 2011, the group offers post-high school and college musicians the opportunity to continue performing and honing their skills.
Genesis Jazz Orchestra, formed in 2018, is a 17-piece big band, made up of several current and former band directors from the area, as well as other District 196 graduates and area residents with decades of musical experience. .
The GJO also has a show scheduled for September 26 as part of a one-day Big Band and Ribfest at Staring Lake Park in Eden Prairie.