Vocal Jazz Fest attracts singers from far and wide to WMU

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Gold Company

KALAMAZOO--A total of 25 vocal jazz groups representing high schools and colleges across the nation and world will flock this month to the Western Michigan University campus for the 32nd annual Gold Company Invitational Vocal Jazz Festival.

The festival, Friday and Saturday, March 23-24, will feature singers from seven states, four countries and three continents. In addition to Michigan, students will be attending from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. And in addition to the United States and Canada, students will come from Australia and Germany.

More than 500 aspiring young singers will flock to WMU's Dalton Center to perform in a noncompetitive and educational setting. Groups are encouraged to perform three contrasting tunes during a 10-minute set.

Each group will receive taped and written comments, plus a clinic immediately following its performance. Groups will be evaluated primarily on the quality of the vocal performance. Staging and choreography will receive secondary emphasis. In addition, in the afternoon, clinics will be offered by Duane Davis, WMU professor of jazz voice, Michael Wheaton, director of GC II, Gold Company's sister ensemble, and a performance by the WMU Advanced Jazz Combo directed by Dr. Scott Cowan, WMU assistant professor of music.

Groove for Thought

In addition to performing and getting much-needed feedback, tips and advice, festival participants can sit back and watch, listen and learn as WMU's award-winning vocal jazz ensemble Gold Company and accomplished a cappella group Groove for Thought hit the stage. Groove for Thought, a Seattle-based septet performing Friday night to kick off the festival, was a finalist on NBC's hit show "The Sing Off" and will be making its only Michigan appearance at 8 p.m. in the Dalton Center Recital Hall. Tickets are $10 and $5 for students, and are available at the door.

After an afternoon performance by GC II, Gold Company will close out the festival with an 8 p.m. show Saturday in the Dalton Center Recital Hall. Tickets are $10 at the door.

"I think it is a great testimonial to our WMU Jazz Studies Program that students, teachers and ensembles from seven states and four countries want to travel to Kalamazoo for the opportunity to perform on our campus, as well as to hear Gold Company, GC II and other WMU music students perform," says Dr. Stephen Zegree, the WMU Bobby McFerrin Professor of Jazz and Gold Company director. "Our goal is to not only educate the guests to our campus, but also to set a high artistic and musical standard that will also inspire them. Indeed it is a pleasure for our students to host so many guests from so far away, and it is something our students always look forward to. I am always impressed by the great talent that we bring to our campus, as well as the students who perform at the Gold Company Festival who ultimately end up being undergraduate and graduate students at WMU."

Visit wmugoldcompany.com for more information.