The George Washington University Jazz Orchestra held their 2017 Winter concert last Saturday night in the Hammer Auditorium at the Corcoran School of Art and Design.
Playing an array of tunes from Dizzy Gillespie to holiday music, the Orchestra filled the room with noise for an eager audience.
“I really enjoyed their selection of music,” said concert-goer Nathan Smith, “It wasn’t holiday heavy and had a good mix of classics, such as ‘Superstition’ and ‘Birdland.’ The excellent vocalist and the talented band members really made the concert top notch.”
As part of the concert this year, the Orchestra teamed up with HBO to sell HBO-themed t-shirts at the door to raise money for The Jazz Academy of Music, an organization which “provides musical opportunities and after-school programs for underprivileged youth in the greater Washington area,” according to the Orchestra’s Facebook page.
Orchestra co-presidents Zachary Sanders and Peter Reiss founded the club in 2015 during their freshman year at GW. Since then, the Orchestra has performed many concerts and competed at the 2017 Villanova Jazz Festival, at which the band won first place for their lineup of Gordon Goodwin’s “Count Bubba,” Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” and Phil Collins’s “Against All Odds.”
Speaking about the Villanova performance, Sanders noted, “[Our selections] really set us apart from the other groups at the festival – we always play music we want to play, rather than music that some faculty director is telling us to play.”
The GW Jazz Orchestra is unique because while faculty advisor Professor Peter Fraize gives musical guidance, the organization’s rehearsals and events are completely run by students, including all directorial decisions and music selections.
Saturday night was Sander’s and Reiss’s last performance as co-presidents, though they plan to stay with the band next semester as co-presidents emeriti. Percussionist Eric Boulter will take over as the organization’s new president, along with trumpet-player Andrew Hesbacher as vice president.
The Orchestra plans to compete again in this year’s Villanova Jazz Festival in April and will likely perform again on campus sometime next semester.