Local Jazz Choir Director Excited for Auditions to Start

Screen shot 2015-08-31 at 2.50.34 PMThis fall, The Music School of Delaware’s faculty member Marty Lassman will lead new jazz choirs for teens and adults. Online auditions for the choirs are now open, and you can learn more about how to do so at this link.

Jazz choirs are similar to traditional ones, he said, except the focus is squarely on the singers – not the conductor – and their personal style and interpretation of the music. Lassman is enthusiastic about the wide range of possibilities for the groups and noted that improvisation will not be required for singers.

He offered TSD a sneak peek at what students can expect:

TSD: What are your goals for the two choir groups?

ML: I want both groups to have fun and look forward to Wednesday night as their favorite night of the week! Both groups will perform similar literature, but the adult group will be able to learn techniques and become comfortable with literature that can be used in school choirs (or similar) at any skill level. In addition, I am unaware of any community jazz choirs that exist in the state (or tri-state area) for teenagers or adults, so this will be a unique opportunity to have fun while singing music that is suitable not just for concerts but also for events.

TSD: What kinds of music do you plan to include in the choirs’ repertoires?

ML: I am waiting to see what our voicing will be before choosing repertoire – we can adapt to anything – but I intend to include newly-composed as well as standard pieces. Members can expect to sing in swing style, Latin (e.g., Bossa Nova) and funk. No one needs prior experience. The complexity of the music will be based upon the level of musicianship we have in the ensembles. We may also sing a few standards in unison, which will provide more opportunities for improvisation.

TSD: What are some of your favorite works for jazz choir?

ML: More than favorite works, I have favorite arrangers. I am fond of Paris Rutherford’s arrangement of Autumn Leaves because it is challenging, is a great teaching piece and sounds even harder than it is. I also enjoy working on any arrangement written by/for the New York Voices but those are intended for advanced choirs. I also like Rosana Eckert’s arrangement of Sandu because the composer, Clifford Brown, lived in Wilmington and is buried in a cemetery across the street from Cab Calloway School of the Arts. Local roots!

TSD: What is your best advice for young or “emerging” singers to improve their craft?

ML: Learn classical music. The foundations for every genre of the Arts – music dance, visual art, etc. – are all based on fundamental techniques taught by performing, recreating or studying the works of the masters. Additionally, all the fundamentals of music – pitch, rhythm, tone, technique, etc. – are learned through traditional choir work. However, musicians living in our contemporary world also benefit from being versatile enough to do perform any style of music, including jazz and pop.

BIO: MARTIN LASSMAN (Jazz Choir, Adult Jazz Choir)
B.M., education: trumpet concentration, University of Delaware; M.S., education: piano concentration, University of Iowa. Faculty: H.B. DuPont Middle School, Talley Jr. High School, Wilmington Friends School, Cab Calloway School of the Arts. Teaching experience: band, general music, jazz band, vocal music, including jazz choir at Cab Calloway. Membership: past president, treasurer of the American Choral Directors Association; Jr. High All-State Chorus Committee.(violin)

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