Connecting Past to Present at Jazz Alumni Concert

Former students from Houston, Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth area will return Sunday to The University of Texas at Arlington to participate in the fifth annual UTA Jazz Alumni Concert. The show begins at 7 p.m. in Irons Recital Hall.

Organized by Music professor Tim Ishii, Director of Jazz Studies, and former director and professor emeritus Bill Snodgrass, the annual event has raised more than $60,000 for student scholarships. Ishii said the goal of the fundraising concert is to connect current students with alumni while looking toward future generations of jazz musicians.

“We invite alumni who have been in the band or the program,” Ishii said. “It’s a reunion concert and [alumni] get to see what is happening currently.”

The event began in 2005 after a conversation between Ishii and outgoing director Snodgrass.

“Bill is very passionate about raising scholarship funds for jazz orchestra,” Ishii said. “He asked ‘Why don’t we have an alumni show?’ So we built a foundation and started the concert event. Each year, it’s grown in stature.”

Snodgrass, who served as Director of Jazz Studies from 1976-2004, will lead the 20-piece ensemble for Sunday’s show. Along with Ishii and the late Dan Burkholder, Snodgrass is one of only three directors of the group since it formed in 1947.

Ishii said it’s the tradition and diversity of the jazz orchestra that sets it apart from other bands in the area.

“We’ve got a vibrant group of individuals,” he said. “We have a jazz degree, but [the jazz orchestra] has a good mix of students. I try to program a wide variety of music each year.”

In 2009, the UT Arlington Jazz Orchestra was named outstanding college band at the North Texas Jazz Festival in Addison. Ishii said it was quite an honor to compete against so many top-flight schools from across the country.

Admission is free to Sunday’s event, but donations will be accepted. A reception is scheduled to follow.

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