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San Juan College jazz groups featured in April 20 livestreamed concert


Evening of jazz standards planned

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  • The concert will be performed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 20.
  • The streamed event can be viewed at sanjuancollege.edu/student-showcase, facebook.com/sanjuancollege and facebook.com/ksje90.9.
  • Two jazz combos and the San Juan College Big Band will perform.

FARMINGTON — It may seem counterintuitive, but when San Juan College jazz music students take the stage later this week for their end-of-semester virtual concert at the Henderson Fine Arts Center, many of them might be more nervous than if they were performing for a live audience.

That's according to music instructor Delbert Anderson, who said the livestreamed concerts the college has been presenting during the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed a new dynamic among his student performers, leading them to better preparation for the concerts.

"A lot of the students have been focusing on individual practice," Anderson said. "They know what's coming and that every voice literally counts. There's no hiding behind the rest of the group in this setting. It's a little scary for some of them."

With social-distancing measures in place that require each musician to be situated 6 to 8 feet from others during the concert, each performer will be playing into a microphone. With several cameras on hand to capture the performance, Anderson said it becomes easy to understand why some students feel like they are under more pressure than they would be if they were playing for a live audience.

"I want to say it's a little more nerve racking," he said, explaining that performing with a camera in your face is an adjustment even for veteran musicians.

Additionally, the largest group of the three that will perform, the San Juan College Big Band, numbers only half its normal contingent because of the pandemic, Anderson said. That means each performer is more important than ever.

"There are times when some students like to hide behind the band sound," he said. "They'll sit out for a few measures because they haven't learned it or they can't play it. But if you stop for a certain portion in this setting, you can hear it."

Anderson said his students are very much aware of the power and capability of social media to reach large numbers of people, and it is likely that far more people will be watching this performance than would watch a typical end-of-semester concert in person.

"You're being zoomed in on and listened to," he said. "You're really exposed now. They know their friends on social media will be watching them. Instead of the 150 people that come to a typical concert, they'll be reaching a lot more. Some of these concerts draw up to 2,300 views."

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Anderson has planned an evening of jazz standards to keep those folks entertained, with his students being joined by a handful of veteran local community musicians. The concert will feature performances by two six-member combos and the 11-piece Big Band.

The program for the two combos includes renditions of such classics as "Here's That Rainy Day," "A Child is Born," "Be-Bop," "Jeannine" and an original composition by retired music faculty member Gordon Peck, "Simply Put." Vocalists Margaret Clair and Rich Canfield will join the combos on a handful of those pieces, including a duet performance on "Come Rain or Come Shine," which Anderson described as the featured piece for entire evening.

The Big Band will conclude the concert with performances of "Darktown Strutters Ball," "Hip-Hug-Her," "All of Me" featuring Clair on vocals, "My Way" with Canfield on vocals and "Rock Around the Clock," which will showcase the trumpet section on an arrangement by Jim Lesher, a member of the group.

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While the virtual concerts at the college are not as satisfying as performing for a live audience, Anderson said he is thankful his students still have the opportunity to perform and show what they have learned from another semester of instruction.

"It's very important for them with everything that's already closed down and a lot of things stopped or put on hold," he said. "To not have anything to work for is pretty much a death sentence for a musician. This way, they have the feeling of knowing something is going to happen. They have the anticipation."

The concert will be performed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 20. The streamed event can be viewed at sanjuancollege.edu/student-showcase, facebook.com/sanjuancollege and facebook.com/ksje90.9.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.