Jazz orchestra prepares for spring season of performances

Spring marks the beginning of a new year for one of Missouri Southern’s oldest traditions. The Jazz Orchestra, which can trace its beginning to the days of Joplin Junior College, has been a tradition at Southern since 1999. The orchestra has been headed by Dr. Phillip Wise, director of jazz studies and associate professor of music. Southern’s orchestra consists of 20 members, picked by audition at the start of the fall semester.

The auditions are often competitive and some don’t make the cut. However, those who do make the orchestra may want to audition even further and make one of the jazz combos. The combos consist of five to six members, and usually only two are organized for the year. The combos play the majority of events, which makes them some of the busiest members of the orchestra.

The orchestra and combo’s yearly events can range from performances at Southern to out-of-state events and even some international events every five to six years.

The most recent of these international performances being when the orchestra toured British Columbia in Canada last year, and prior to that the British Virgin Islands. This variety and number of performances makes for an exciting and busy year for the Orchestra.

Officially the orchestra will play its first spring concert in April. This concert will be at 6 p.m. April 17 in Webster Hall auditorium where the group will be accompanied by jazz vocalist and six-time ASCAP Award winning songwriter Kathy Kosins of Detroit. This will be the first concert for the orchestra as a whole, but the jazz combos will have some upcoming performances in February.

Today, the combo will perform at the Langston Hughes Celebration, and Monday during Discovery Day and Feb. 23 in the Billingsly Student Center at a brown bag event for faculty and staff.

Wise would encourages students and faculty to attend the performances.