On Friday, Oct. 6th, the New England Jazz Ensemble came to KO to perform a musical rendition of Peter and the Wolf. The New England Jazz Ensemble is a large jazz orchestra comprising regionally based artists. The group features original and contemporary jazz arrangements and compositions. Much of the band’s material is generated by the ensemble’s members. It is a performance group as well as a composer’s forum. The group has several goals, including perpetuating the uniquely American large jazz ensemble as an art medium, encouraging the writing of new work for large jazz ensembles.The group reaches culturally diverse audiences with their music, and shares the band’s wealth of expertise with the public in the form of concerts, educational forums and programs, and also guest performances and recordings. They also hope to support the opportunities for professional jazz artists to be employed in their specific areas of expertise in order to maintain the integrity of the jazz community.
When asked about her experience watching and listening to the performance, junior Madeleine Petellier said she was pleasantly surprised. “At first, I thought I was going to get bored because I tend not to like listening to jazz or music like that for long periods of time, she said. “But I ended up really liking it.”
Junior Vishal Kumar said that he liked the performance a lot and thought that it was very good. He had also had low expectations coming into the performance. “It was definitely not as dissonant as I thought it would be,” said Vishal.
Both he and junior Marwynn Somridhivej thought that the storytelling format with the narrator enhanced the performance. Vishal said he thought the narration was very funny and unique. Marwynn agreed, but thought some parts of the narration could have been adapted for the younger audience at KO. “While I thought it was cool how they took something that was originally for symphony orchestra and made it something that could be played by jazz band, I thought some of the words in the narration were difficult to understand because I don’t hear them often,” he said.
Madeleine said that while she thought some of the narration was strange, she appreciated it as a whole. “I understand why they would want to do it that way [storytelling], so that we can relate to the music more, because more people in our generation are not jazz enthusiasts. It was kind of weird at some points with the narration, but it was still funny and entertaining,” she said.
When asked whether they would go and watch another one of the New England Jazz Ensemble’s performances outside of KO, both Marwynn and Vishal said they would. “I would listen to them outside of school if they made it interesting like this one,” said Vishal.
Madeleine said that she wouldn’t because although she enjoyed this performance, she was still not a fan of jazz. “I don’t think I would go and listen to them outside of school, because it’s not my preferred type of music and I don’t think I would be entertained by it if it was more than half an hour,” she said.