Jazz ensemble to go to Switzerland

University Relations

Switzerland’s famed Montreux Jazz Festival has invited South Dakota State University student jazz musicians to perform in 2012.

“It is the most prestigious jazz festival in all of Europe,” said Nathan Jorgensen, assistant professor of woodwinds and jazz at SDSU. “There are about half a dozen jazz festivals that people would recognize. Montreux is at the top of the list. It’s right along Lake Geneva. It’s a gorgeous part of the world, numerous stages, a multitude of internationally recognized performers.”

In July, those performers will include 16 SDSU students from Jazz Ensemble I.

This is the first time for a group from SDSU to perform at Montreux, which is the second largest annual music festival in the world and draws more than 200,000 people during its two weeks.

A new set will be arranged for the trip to Montreux.

Local jazz fans will be able to hear songs when the ensemble performs at the SDSU jazz festival in mid-April and at the Spring Festival of Music in late April. Admission will be charged to those events to help defray trip costs.

Those costs are considerable — $2,850 per person before institutional grants and department funds were obtained.

That knocked the cost down to $2,500, but still a hefty price for a college student. “In fact, a couple ensemble members won’t be able to go to Montreux because of the cost,” Jorgensen said. “The concerts will help lower the $2,500 trip costs.”

Another fundraiser is a Valentine’s Day dinner dance at the Old Sanctuary at which Jorgensen and several community members will perform.

In Switzerland, the ensemble will perform July 5 and 6 at an outdoor pavilion — Parc Vernex. The 16 students – two drummers, a pianist, a bassist, five saxophonists, four trombonists and three trumpeters – will be joined by two other trumpeters.

Jim Speirs, a 1999 SDSU graduate and a Sioux Falls JazzFest performer, and Cade Calder, both of Sioux Falls, will play with the ensemble.

Jorgensen said the jazz ensemble was selected for Montreux after he submitted a recording of the group from the Spring Festival of Music. Only a couple students graduated from that group, he said. Montreux notified Jorgensen of the selection in mid-September.

His students were aware that their recordings had been submitted.

“Because of the financial commitment from the students involved, I had to ask them if they wanted me to apply,” Jorgensen said. “They all screamed at me ‘yes.’ … We’re really, really excited about this opportunity.”

This is the third SDSU music group making a major trip this school year — the Pride of the Dakotas marching band is headed to Orlando, Fla., for the Dec. 31 Citrus Parade and a women’s choral group will perform in Russia in early June. A couple members of the jazz ensemble are also going to Russia, Jorgensen said.

The jazz ensemble trip dates are June 29 to July 7, 2012. The tour begins with a concert in Munich, Germany. The group then travels south through the Black Forest region to a town called Oberndorf am Neckar for its second concert. Then it’s off to Montreux.

For more information, contact Jorgensen at 605-688-4092 or [email protected].