On Friday, April 5, Bellevue College’s Jazz Ensemble “Celebration” performed their first concert of the quarter in the Carlson Theatre. As their mid-year concert, Thomas Almli was the jazz conductor of the ensemble. Almli also takes on the role as director of the ensemble and BC Concert Choir, auditioning and hand-selecting students for this class making the class a very competitive one to enroll in. The theatre was packed with a diverse audience: college students kick-starting their weekend, seniors and family members there to support the vocalists and instrumentalists. The audience was also joined by Greta Matassa, a locally acclaimed jazz singer. Around $1,500 was raised for the BC music department.
Internationally-acclaimed and multi-award-winning vocal ensemble, they performed their best that night. The young men and women wore uniform black dresses and gray suits, with red ties and red high heels. In their performance, they touched over different genres of jazz including swing, bebop, Brazilian, Samba and blues. The first half of the concert was the “Celebration” ensemble’s performance. After intermission, Matassa finished off the night providing her own energy by “turning down the lights for a more coffeehouse vibe.”
As a music instructor, Almli explained that “about half our students in the jazz choir are music majors. We have students that transfer to the best schools of music: Juliard, Manhattan School of Music, North Texas University, and within the state, a lot of students go to Central Washington University.Regarding music courses, Almli explained, “Some people view them as extracurricular or co-curricular but I view them as just the opposite. They’re the nexus of what it means to be a student. The good colleges look for students that have participated in these types of activities. They want to know what activities you’re involved in, what your role will be in the community at their university. Being in a select, competitive kind of group, I believe that’s what builds good citizens.”
Cortez Ethridge, a BC student a part of the ensemble, explained how he wasn’t entirely nervous before the performance. “I’m a pretty natural performer so just being in front of people is just natural to me. Mr. Almli is a terrific jazz conductor and even though he can be a little hardcore at times, he makes us sound good.” After the performance, Sam McPherson, another member of the ensemble, declared “We feel good. A few music hiccups, but it was a good and fun performance. We’re extremely glad to have Greta with us because having someone like her coming in makes us stand out a whole lot. It shows how hard we work and I think she’s pleased to be here.” For the BC students, Matassa advised that “singing shouldn’t be about becoming famous. It should be about doing something you enjoy. They should do it because they love it and to immerse themselves in the music.” get the chance to study.”