Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble

Tag: Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble

Laura Van Asten 1996-2017: Talented musician, animal lover

The Lawrence community is mourning the loss of student Laura Van Asten, who sustained fatal injuries June 30 while riding a horse. She was 20 years old.

Laura Van Asten
Laura Van Asten

A flutist from fourth grade until the middle of her junior year in high school, Laura decided to try out the trombone and trombone performance became her major at Lawrence. She was an engaged musician who enjoyed sharing her talents with others at school, church and throughout the community.

She was a member of the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, which traveled to Minnesota this spring for a series of community outreach activities and concerts at several homeless shelters and food pantries in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Laura also performed with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra and the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. One of her favorite gigs was subbing with the Big Band Reunion, a 17-piece jazz band that performs regularly at Frank’s Pizza Palace in downtown Appleton. She also recently performed with Wisconsin Symphonic Winds, an adult, professional quality wind ensemble based in Oshkosh, and took great delight in playing with brass groups for Easter Sunday services at a local church.

As much as music was a part of Laura’s life, animals of all kinds were her true joy and horses were her greatest love. She began learning about horsemanship as an eight-year old and soon after began riding. As a young teenager, she saved enough money so she could lease a horse one summer that she could call her own. Laura was a volunteer at BEAMING Inc., a local therapeutic horse-riding organization focused on enhancing the quality of life for people with special needs, where she started out as a as a sidewalker and more recently served as a horse handler.

Laura’s passion for horses extended to Mulberry Lane Farm, where she held a variety of responsibilities, including tour guide of the petting farm. Her favorite duty was exercising the ponies. Laura Van Asten with horse

Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, described Laura as “deeply musical, passionate, intellectually curious, courageous and very funny.”

“Laura impacted the lives of everyone who knew her in such positive and long-lasting ways. We will miss her effervescent energy every day. When we return in the fall, we will celebrate Laura’s beautiful life. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and loved ones.”

Born in Madison, Laura grew up in the Fox Valley, attending Holy Angels/Holy Spirit School in Darboy from preschool through eighth grade. She was a 2014 graduate of Appleton’s Xavier High School, where she performed in band, marching band and pit orchestra. A person proud of, and devoted to, her Catholic faith and dedicated to serving others, Laura was active in the Rock for Life Club and was able to travel throughout the country through the March for Life and Catholic Heart Work Camp. She also was very involved with the Chazoo Warriors, her parish peer ministry group.

Laura is survived by her parents, K. Michael and Betty Van Asten, Appleton, her brother Luke, Mishicot, her sister Michelle at home and her boyfriend Isaac Mayhew, a 2017 Lawrence graduate currently living in St. Paul, Minn.

She is further survived by her grandparents, Richard and Mary Sorensen, Madison, and Alois Van Asten, Wisconsin Rapids, numerous uncles and aunts and 23 cousins.

A visitation will be held Friday, July 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 600 E. Kimberly Ave., Kimberly, with a prayer service at 7 p.m. A funeral liturgy will be held Saturday, July 8 at 11 a.m. Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. until the time of the Mass. Interment will follow at Holy Angels Cemetery, W2796 County Road KK, Appleton.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Senior Sam Genualdi wins national DownBeat award for original composition

The hits just keep coming for Sam Genualdi.

Head shot of student Sam Genualdi
Sam Genualdi ’17

The Lawrence University senior, who was awarded a $30,000 Watson Fellowship last month, can add 2017 DownBeat Student Music Awards (SMA) competition winner to his resume.

Genualdi has received the “Outstanding Original Composition” award in the undergraduate category for his large ensemble composition “Treelight” in the jazz magazine’s 40th annual competition.

Announced in DownBeat’s June edition, the SMAs are considered among the highest music honors in the field of jazz education. They are presented in 13 categories in five separate divisions: junior high, high school, performing high school, undergraduate college and graduate college.

The composition award is all the more impressive given Genualdi’s own admission.

“I didn’t really get into notated music, written down on the page, until I came to Lawrence,” said Genualdi, a student-designed contemporary improvisation major from Evanston, Ill. “I arrived not knowing how to read music very well, but once I was here, I voraciously tried to absorb as much information as I could to make myself the best musician I could be.”

Patty Darling, instructor of music who directs the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and teaches jazz composition and arranging, offered Genualdi a commission last year to write  a large ensemble piece for the college’s annual Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend. He spent nine months working on the five-minute piece.

“It’s not your standard big-band music,” Genualdi says of “Treelight.” “It draws on influences from hip-hop, contemporary wind ensemble music and a lot of more spread out harmony. I had one central motif that I drew upon to create the whole thing. I took this short melodic idea and flipped it on its head a whole bunch of different ways to spin it out into the whole piece.”

When he started the “Treelight project, “sorting material” was the initial step in the process.

“I had tons of ideas, way too many melodic fragments and thoughts, and just pages of different stuff, recordings on my phone, different little things that I was thinking about using,” Genualdi explained. “Most of that came from just improvising. I’d sit my phone on the piano, record, and then just start playing. I’d listen back and pick things out. I ended up distilling it to this one idea and I wanted to see how many different ways I could change it.”

Darling said all of Genualdi’s compositions reflect “his exceptional talent as an improviser and as a diverse musician.”

“Sam develops simple motifs into beautiful, extended phrases and integrates many musical influences into compositions that are unique and compelling,” said Darling, a 1985 Lawrence graduate who won a DownBeat award herself in 1984 for best jazz arrangement.

“He’s such a well-rounded musician: a composer, a performer, an improviser and a scholar,” Darling added. “Sam is always open to new experiences and learning more. No matter what paths he chooses, I’m confident he will always be creating beautiful and meaningful music.”

Photo of Sam Genualdi playing his guitarGenualdi plays guitar on “Treelight,” which was recorded last fall by the Lawrence Jazz Ensemble under Darling’s direction. He calls it “the best thing I’ve written that has seen the light of day.”

The title was inspired by family vacations and backpacking trips in the woods and mountains out west when he was young.

“There isn’t an English word for the way beams of light pass through the trees in a forest,” said Genualdi. “There are words in Japanese for this shoot of light coming down but not an equivalent English word. I was poking around and found something that suggested ‘tree light’ might be the closest, but that’s not an actual word. It’s not defined in the dictionary.”

Beyond a combination of shock and excitement, Genualdi said when he learned of his DownBeat award, his mind immediately drifted back to his freshman year and his experiences playing in the jazz ensemble under the late Fred Sturm, Lawrence’s long-time director of jazz studies who died of cancer in 2014.

“I know wherever Fred is, he’s proud, and that makes me very happy, too. I don’t really care much about name recognition, but it will be really cool to see my name next to Patty’s and Fred’s and all my peers over the years who have won Downbeat awards.”

On May 19, Genualdi will release his album “Looking Through the Glass,” through his website. The album is a songwriting project featuring jazz saxophonist and composer Tim Berne and experimental percussionist Jon Mueller.

This is the third straight year a Lawrence student has won a DownBeat original composition award. Tim Carrigg, a 2016 Lawrence graduate, won back-to-back honors in 2015 and 2016.

As one of Sturm’s former composition students, Darling points to the high bar he set as part of the reason for the recent string of successes.

“I’m thrilled our jazz composers are doing well. Fred always expected a lot from his composition students,” said Darling, who has taught in the Lawrence jazz department since 2007. “Fred was always incredibly supportive, dedicated and positive so it’s very important to me that we continue to uphold his traditions.”

Since DownBeat launched its Student Music Awards competition in 1978, Lawrence students and ensembles have won a total of 28 SMAs, including eight in the past seven years.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.


Britain’s Radiohead Gets a Musical Makeover by Lawrence Jazz Department

The music of the inventive and popular English alternative rock band Radiohead gets a major makeover in Lawrence University’s ambitious Radiohead Jazz Project.

A dozen Radiohead songs, rearranged for large jazz ensemble format by an international array of composers, make their world premiere March 8-9 in a pair of  performances by the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and the Lawrence University Jazz Band. The concerts, at 8 p.m. both nights in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center, are free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Contact the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

The project was hatched last summer, when Fred Sturm, Lawrence’s director of jazz studies and improvisational music and colleague Patty Darling, director of the jazz band, discussed the feasibility of a Radiohead large jazz ensemble arranging initiative to bring added relevancy to the music their students play.

“I’ve heard too many collegiate jazz concerts that don’t include a single selection composed within the lifetime of the students,” said Sturm. “I want my students to be able perform the music of their time, not just the music of their forebears. Radiohead has been an international phenomenon for 25 years. Our students grew up with their music. The jazz-influenced works of Radiohead seemed the perfect focus for a jazz big band program.”

Darling, in collaboration with Williamette University’s James Miley, who was among the first to arrange Radiohead works for the large jazz ensemble, compiled a list of more than a dozen Radiohead tunes they felt best lent themselves to jazz ensemble.  Among the choices were the hits “Kid A,” “Idioteque,” “Knives Out,” and “Paranoid Android.”

To generate the music, Sturm recruited an international group of jazz arrangers — Germany’s Florian Ross and Sherisse Rogers, staff arranger for the Netherlands’ Metropole Orchestra — as well as young American composers with an affinity for Radiohead’s music, including collegiate jazz faculty members from California, Texas, Oregon, Kansas and Iowa. Sturm and Darling each contributed one arrangement to the project as well.

“This project has been a wonderful opportunity for musical growth,” said Darling.  “The students get to experience firsthand how these talented writers approach Radiohead’s music, how they alter the forms and harmonic structures and orchestrate for jazz ensemble. We are hoping that this project can serve as a kind of primer for contemporary arranging and composing.”

Many jazz solo artists and small ensembles have recorded Radiohead songs, including pianist Brad Mehldau (“Exit Music from a Film,” “Knives Out”), saxophonist Chris Potter (“Morning Bell”) and singer Jamie Cullum (“High and Dry”).

“Radiohead songs are among the ‘new standards’ being explored by jazz soloists and combos,” said Sturm, “and packaging them for the large jazz ensemble is a logical progression. This project is the first grand-scale effort to arrange multiple Radiohead compositions for the jazz big band.”

Formed in 1985, Radiohead released its first album in 1993 and achieved notoriety in their native United Kingdom shortly thereafter.  International recognition followed shortly and in 2005, the five-member band was ranked 73rd in Rolling Stone’s list of “The Greatest Artists of All Time.” Many consider Radiohead the most inventive and successful band in the modern rock era.

In recent years, the band has traded conventional instrumentation and standard song forms for rhythms and grooves seldom found in the rock genre. Radiohead lead guitarist and principal arranger Jonny Greenwood claims the band draws many conceptual elements from jazz.

“We bring in our favorite jazz albums and say: ‘We want to do this.’ That’s what we do and that’s what bands have always done, since the late ’50s — a bunch of guys in England listening to American blues records and copying them. In our case, it’s jazz.”

Radiohead’s latest CD, “King of Limbs,” released in mid-February, has drawn praise for its jazz influences.  In its review, The Chicago Tribune says “The new Radiohead never resolves the friction between the physical freedom of dance music and the carefully constructed architecture of more insular, inward looking art-pop. Its reference points are abstract jazz-fusion albums that implied funk without actually embracing it: Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” Herbie Hancock’s “Sextant.” That’s heady, serious territory.”

Following the March premiere, the Radiohead Jazz Project will be performed at three of the nation’s top collegiate jazz programs:  the University of North Texas, University of Miami and the Eastman School of Music. Sierra Music Publications, one of the major publishers of large jazz ensemble music, will distribute the print music as a series in the fall. In September, the HR Big Band in Frankfurt, Germany will record and tour with the project.

“We think we’re onto something very special,” said Sturm.  “There’s tremendous enthusiasm afoot among professional ensembles, university programs and high school jazz ensembles about this music.  We hope it will have a great future and we hope that audiences will love it, too.”

Lawrence University Kaleidoscope Concert: A Musical Cornucopia

From Bizet to Broadway, Lawrence University’s biennial Kaleidoscope concert promises to strike at least one chord with every music lover. Showcasing the musical talents of nearly 350 Lawrence students, the third edition of the concert will be performed Saturday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, 400 W. College Ave., Appleton.

Tickets, at $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $7 for students, are available at both the Lawrence University Box Office, 920-832-6749, and the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Box Office, 920-730-3760.

First performed in 2006, the 75-minute, non-stop musical whirlwind will feature a dozen student groups performing from all corners of the theatre, including the side balconies, main floor and upper balcony.

“Kaleidoscope is really the cornucopia of concerts. It is designed to cover a broad spectrum of musical offerings and give the audience a sampling of everything from intimate chamber music and funky jazz to musical theatre and Brazilian percussion,” said Andrew Mast, director of bands at Lawrence and the coordinator of this year’s concert.

“It will be the most ambitious thing Lawrence does musically this year and requires a lot of work on the part of our students to pull it off given in the short time they’ve been back in school,” Mast added. “But it’s a special opportunity to perform in a beautiful hall like the Performing Arts Center. I know everyone is excited about putting on a great show.”

Highlighting the concert’s repertoire will be three works with Lawrence connections, including two compositions that will have their world premiere. The Lawrence Wind Ensemble will debut “Arclight Alley,” written by 2006 Lawrence graduate David Werfelmann, while “Layaanjali,” a composition by Assistant Professor of Music Asha Srinivasan, will have its world premiere performed by the Lawrence Saxophone Ensemble. Director of Jazz Studies Fred Sturm will direct the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble in a performance of his recent composition “Signal Fires.”

The program also includes performances by Lawrence’s new gamelan ensemble, the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, the Lawrence Concert Choir, Cantala women’s choir, the Sambistas percussion ensemble, a string quartet, opera and musical theatre excerpts and a six-hand piano performance.

The concert’s grand finale will feature a performance of the “Jupiter Hymn” from Gustav Holst’s seminal work “The Planets” by the entire Kaleidoscope cast under the baton of Lawrence President Jill Beck.

“The fast-paced nature of the concert, with no breaks between the relatively short, but audience-accessible works along with the constantly changing staging truly makes for a unique concert experience,” said Mast. “We hope the audience enjoys listening to it as much as we enjoy performing it.”

Lawrence University gratefully acknowledges Appleton Group Wealth Management, LLC for its sponsorship of the Kaleidoscope concert and extends its deep appreciation for its generous support of this special community arts showcase.

Rolling Stones Classics Get Jazz Treatment in Lawrence University Concert

APPLETON, WIS. — Mick Jagger and Keith Richards may finally get that “satisfaction” they famously sought in song.

The music of the iconic rock band Rolling Stones gets a jazz makeover when Lawrence University presents the U.S. premiere of “The Rolling Stones Project,” a collection of 12 Stones’ classics arranged for large jazz ensemble by New York saxophonist Tim Ries and Los Angeles arranger Matt Harris.

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and Lawrence Jazz Band, under the direction of Fred Sturm and Patty Darling, respectively, present “STONE AGE: Music of the Rolling Stones” March 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre. The concert is free, but due to limited seating, tickets are required and are available through the Lawrence box office, 920-832-6749.

“This program is going to be played all over the world in the next few years, and we’re thrilled to launch it here in the states,” said Sturm, director of jazz and improvisational music at Lawrence.

The concert will include such Jagger-Richards classics as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Paint It Black,” “Ruby Tuesday,” and “Wild Horses,” among others.

“We won’t be imitating the Stones’ recordings like a ‘cover’ band would,” said Sturm. “Instead, we’ve re-casted them with fresh harmonies, unique rhythms and the power and colorful shadings of an 18-piece jazz ensemble. But fans of the Stones will still be able to recognize the tunes.”

The concert owes its genesis to Ries, a composer and saxophonist who played in the Rolling Stones’ horn section on their “No Security” tour in 1999. In a bout of experimentation, Ries decided to add a jazz arrangement to several Stones’ songs, resulting in the 2005 album “The Rolling Stones Project: Music Of The Rolling Stones.” A second follow-up disc, “Stones World,” was released last October.

Sturm and Ries crossed paths in 2003 after Sturm was named the recipient of the prestigious 2003 ASCAP/IAJE Commission in Honor of Quincy Jones. For the premiere of his work “Abstract Image” in New York City, Sturm assembled an all-star ensemble of jazz luminaries, including Ries, who appeared as the featured saxophonist.

Fast forward to 2008 when Ries collaborated with Sturm’s long-time friend and Eastman School of Music classmate, composer/arranger Matt Harris. Harris expanded Ries’ Rolling Stones projects into 12 orchestrations for large jazz ensemble. Ries first performed the Harris arrangements last October with Denmark’s Kluvers Big Band, one of Europe’s top professional jazz ensembles.

In preparing for the concert, Sturm and Darling exposed their students to recordings of the original Rolling Stones renditions, the Ries and Danish versions as well as treatments that were recorded by artists ranging from soul singers Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, pop star Britney Spears and jazz great Oscar Peterson.

“Performing and arranging classic and contemporary pop music is an important focus of the Lawrence jazz department,” said Darling. “Our students need the tools and vocabulary to explore the music of their own time. We’re examining process very closely, articulating how jazz players and composers can reconstitute any piece of music in their own voice.”

“Jazz musicians have been fascinated with standard tunes going back to Tin Pan Alley and the American Popular Songbook of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s,” Sturm added. “Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and other jazz greats have recorded their own treatments of the ‘New Standards’ in contemporary pop music. In that same creative spirit, we’ll be putting our own interpretive stamp upon these great Rolling Stones hits.”

Two Lawrence University Ensembles Selected as Featured Performers for State Music Conference

Lawrence University musicians will be exceptionally well represented as performers and composers when the 2005 Wisconsin Music Educators Association holds its annual state conference Oct. 26-29 in Madison.

The award-winning Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Fred Sturm, will pay tribute to some of Wisconsin’s most notable contributors to jazz with a pair of conference performances entitled “Homage to Wisconsin Jazz Composers” Oct. 26-27 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center. The Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Andrew Mast, will perform Friday, Oct. 28.

The 19-member Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble will be the conference’s opening day featured performer with a Wednesday evening concert and return to the stage first thing again the next morning for a second show. The two performances will feature 10 pieces each, collectively representing the work of 20 different composers and arrangers from across several important Wisconsin jazz constituencies.

Among the featured works will be four by retired state jazz education pioneers, including “Lady in Satin” by Oshkosh native and 1957 Lawrence graduate John Harmon, who founded the college’s award-winning jazz studies program in 1971; five by current Wisconsin university jazz educators, including “Nzemo Na Mvula Zamba” by Sturm and “Minor Surgery” arranged by Neenah native Marty Robinson, a 1989 Lawrence graduate now teaching at UW-Oshkosh; three Wisconsin school directors; two state natives who graduated from Wisconsin universities; three writers associated with Wisconsin jazz publishers; and three of Wisconsin’s greatest jazz stars, Woody Herman, the legendary big-band leader from Milwaukee, Lyle Mays of Wausaukee, the renowned keyboardist/composer with the Pat Metheny Group and noted contemporary jazz pianist Geoff Keezer from Eau Claire.

“This is both a great honor and a great opportunity for our students to play at the state conference,” said Sturm, whose collegiate ensembles have been cited by Downbeat magazine as America’s best eight times. “There are some terrific jazz programs in Wisconsin and we all vie for a spot on the annual conference program. We submitted some recordings last May and when I found out they offered us two programs, I could not have been more thrilled. This conference is really a wonderful way to showcase our talented student musicians to jazz educators from around the state.”

Collectively the recipient of two outstanding performance awards by Downbeat magazine as well as numerous other individual awards, the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble has long been recognized as one of the country’s premier undergraduate jazz bands. It performs and records frequently, presenting cutting edge large ensemble literature, historically significant works, Lawrence student and faculty compositions and arrangements and accompanies visiting jazz solo artists.

Mast, in his second year as director of bands at Lawrence, will lead the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble in a four-piece concert at 11 a.m. on Friday Oct 28 at the Monona Terrace. Two of his program’s works will have strong Lawrence ties.
One piece, “My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone,” was composed by Percy Grainger and arranged by Sturm in honor of long-time Lawrence music professor Fred Schroeder, who was the director of bands at Lawrence from 1951-78.

Another piece, “Villanelle,” will feature James DeCorsey, Lawrence associate professor of music, on French horn. DeCorsey also wrote the arrangement for the Paul Dukas composition.

“‘Villanelle’ is a terrific piece originally composed as a contest piece for the Paris Conservatory, so it has moments of both beauty and fire,” said Mast, who was director of Bands at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, before joining the Lawrence faculty in 2004. “And the 1998 arrangement of ‘My Robin,’ is a gorgeous and loving setting of this piece that happens to have two great Lawrence connections.”

The 55-member Lawrence University Wind Ensemble is selected from the top wind and percussion students in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music and regularly performs five to seven concerts throughout the academic year, frequently with guest soloists, conductors and composers. Their latest recording, “Air Mosaic” was released in the spring of 2005.