Brandon University Big Band ready for five-day residency in Las Vegas

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In a city where some of the world’s biggest stars draw huge audiences night after night, a group of Brandon University (BU) music students are taking up a five-day residency.

The BU Big Band will be playing downtown Las Vegas later this month, as the high-energy jazz ensemble meets with younger Las Vegas students at both a prestigious high school, the Las Vegas Arts Academy, and a creativity-based preschool and primary school, the 9th Bridge School. Together, they’ll perform at multiple events, including a large concert at Las Vegas’ noted Container Park.

“We are so excited at the opportunity to not only bring the Brandon University Big Band to perform in downtown Las Vegas, but to be partnering with the Las Vegas Arts Academy and the 9th Bridge School in the process really makes this even more special,” said BU Jazz Studies Associate Professor Michael Cain. “Musical diversity is often focused on cultural exchanges, but by performing with musicians of high school age down to three-year-olds allows us to explore the ways in which music making can be generationally diverse.”

Lauren Teterenko, a fourth-year jazz saxophone performance major, says it’s by far the biggest trip they’ve done in her four years as part of the Big Band.

“I’m looking forward to making music with children. It’s so exciting to get to share music with such creative minds. One thing I’ve learnt is that kids don’t hold back, so there is no hesitancy when it comes to possibly looking funny or being embarrassed. It’s as if they have no boundaries, as apposed to adults,” Teterenko said. “This look on life is incredibly refreshing, especially in a musical context. As a student I’m always learning and spreading my passion for music everywhere I go, so I’m thrilled to be sharing it with young children, experienced musicians (who will be guest artists at our shows), as well as the musicians from Brandon that I make music with everyday!”

She says fundraising for the trip has included raffles, canteen proceeds and making and selling lunches to fellow students on campus.

Bandmate Stormy Allen, a fourth-year Jazz Studies student who pays trombone, has been making some of those fundraising lunches.

“I’ve been cooking up a storm!” he laughs, ticking off everything from shepherd’s pie to perogies and pulled chicken. Also cooking, he says, are the arrangements that they’re preparing to take to Las Vegas, including variations on the Oompa-Loompa theme from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and an ABC song.

“It’s a huge collaboration between us, and these kids, they pretty much love music. To us we see it as basic melodies, as learning songs, but the kids, they see it as completely over-the-top, amazing,” Allen said. “We’re trying to make it fun for these kids, and we also get the experience of travelling as a big band, collaborating with other musicians, and lining up everything. It’s very cool.”

Cain, who grew up in Las Vegas, notes that the city, while known worldwide for gaming, is also a huge arts and music hub, which makes it a great opportunity for BU students.

“Downtown Las Vegas has been undergoing a profound revitalization the last several years, with enormous entrepreneurial energy coming in on multiple levels; tech, retail, arts, and education,’ he said. “This performance and residency is more than just a concert, it’s an opportunity for institutional collaboration, as well as research in the process of music-making itself and how that can interact and engage with various communities on a large scale basis.”

Teterenko says she’s very much looking forward to the trip.

“It’s awesome to go down to Vegas and perform down there,” she said. “I’ve never been, heard lots of things of course, but just to experience the culture of Vegas with the perspective of a musician, rather than gambler or partier, is going to be amazing.”



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