Saxophonist Matt Shevitz performed during Fine Arts Week. (Evie Exiner)
Saxophonist Matt Shevitz performed during Fine Arts Week.

Evie Exiner

College of DuPage Jazz Ensemble brings an educational and immersive performance to Fine Arts Week

March 6, 2023

For the last performance of Fine Arts Week’s Wednesday lineup, the College of DuPage jazz ensemble delivered a creative, immersive, and partially improvisational concert that featured both laid-back and energized pieces, performed by a group of seven composed of a string quartet, string bass, saxophone, and a drum set. The group was introduced by saxophonist Matt Shevitz, who made it his goal to turn his performance into a learning experience about jazz and music.

“I think the goal for any concert is to engage with your audience,” Shevitz said. “How that manifests really depends on the genre and it depends on the artist, but it is definitely important in order to have that kind of successful concert experience for the performers and the people in the seats”

While it was an engaging experience for those that comprised the audience, it showed a very different opportunity for drummer Ben Wahlund. Wahlund seized his own moment in order to teach audience members about time signatures and other difficult tasks he faces as a percussionist. 

“Teaching means everything to us,” Wahlund said. “Art is at its best when it challenges people to think differently, and for music, teaching them is a very fun and easy way to do that. Especially when working with high school students that get a front-row seat to the world, it’s terrific.”

The educational aspect of performances is nothing new for string bassist Crystal Rebone, a teacher and professor at Bradley University, who teaches aspiring musicians across the midwest and performed a solo during “Sun on Sand”. 

“I really hope that seeing stuff like this can get students that might be more non-musical might be more interested in it,” Rebone said. “I hope maybe they’ll go out and see a symphony concert and go to support the arts, it really starts here.

The size of the audience was a unique and new element for other members of the ensemble as well. For the aforementioned saxophonist Matt Shevitz, the size of the audience was something that, for him, would be unprecedented as a kid.

“Opportunities, while they did happen, were a bit more limited,” Shevitz said. “But this is absolutely fantastic, it’s really all about building that future audience, we need to keep doing this, we need to grow the current audiences and ensure that they’ll be around for years and years to come, and that’s not just the adult population but it’s the younger population as well, finding those kids for those audiences go all the way down to elementary school concerts too.”

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