Jazz it up
What: Heartland Sings: Jazz concert
When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: University of Saint Francis downtown Performing Arts Center (formerly Scottish Rite Center), 431 W. Berry St.
Cost: $20, adults; free, students and children age 17 and younger with paid adult. For information or to buy tickets, go to www.heartlandchorale.org or call 436-8080.
The Heartland chorale, which has enriched the arts community in Fort Wayne since 1997 with its dynamic choral chamber music, will take to the stage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday with a jazz and pops concert entitled “Heartland Sings: Jazz.”
The performance, which takes place downtown at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center (formerly the Scottish Rite Center), will be filled with jazz and pop standards from the '40s and '50s and highlights some of the best American songwriters of the 20th century.
Eric Miller, general manager of Heartland, along with Maestro Robert Nance, the group's president and artistic director, gave us a preview of the show via email and both he and Nance hope audiences will enjoy this loving tribute to that uniquely American musical creation known as jazz.
Q: What can audiences expect to see at the Heartland Sings: Jazz show on Oct. 21?
A: “Heartland Sings: Jazz” will feature the Heartland Jazz Orchestra (16-piece Big Band) along with 12 singers performing the jazz and pop hits of the Great American Songbook from the 1940s and '50s.
From Gershwin to Cole Porter to Louis Prima, the concert will be a tribute to the quintessentially American art form of Jazz.
Q: What kind of songs/composers will be featured in the show?
A: The concert will feature classic favorites like “Sing, Sing, Sing” in the style of the New York Voices and “Route 66.” Also appearing will be the “Heartland Sisters” (think Andrews Sisters) performing favorites like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree.”
Q: What are some of your favorite pieces from the show and why?
A: Among our favorites are “Operator” that many people might not know, and the vocal jazz standard “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
“Operator” was written and recorded by the vocal jazz group Manhattan Transfer and features Richelle Bock as soloist. It has a gospel feel that is accentuated by jazz harmonies — a combination of two styles that flow seamlessly together to form an outstanding piece of music.
“Sing, Sing, Sing” was arranged by Darmon Meader of the New York Voices and is the perfect opportunity for the instrumentalists and the singers to work together to showcase all of their respective talents.
Q: How do you go about putting a show like the Jazz performance together?
A: From an artistic standpoint, we think about the main theme of the concert and then go out and find the music that will inspire and delight the audience. Once we have that, we work hard at making sure the “nitty-gritty” (notes and rhythms) are correct so we can get down to the heart of live performance, making music. That's where the real magic is.
From the logistical perspective, the biggest challenges are to find a venue in which to perform (we found a great one with the Downtown PAC), contract players and scheduling rehearsals, and then ensuring that all the logistics (audio, lighting, audience experience, etc) are all organized and flow together seamlessly.
We actually started that side of the work for this performance back in May. A lead time of about 5-6 months is a necessity when you are working on a production of this magnitude.
Q: What is the typical audience like for a Heartland concert?
A: You can expect to see people from all walks of life at Heartland concerts. From long-time arts supporters to college students to children who will get up and dance in the aisles, all are welcome when Heartland sings. Our audience does vary a bit by performance, as each concert appeals to a different set of musical tastes. … Generally speaking, our audience is as varied as the music we perform.
Q: What has been the most satisfying thing for you about being involved with Heartland?
A: For me (Eric Miller) personally, I revel in seeing the months of hard work put in by the staff, volunteers and performers culminate on concert day. It's not really the applause at the end that moves me, but the look on an audience member's face when a song really moves them.
For founder, Robert Nance, the goal was to enrich the Fort Wayne community. The arts is a great way to do that. To see the growth Heartland has experienced over the last 16 years and know we have created a long-term impact on the cultural life of the community is extremely satisfying.