ROCHESTER, NY — Friday lunch hours at Midtown Plaza are about to get jazzed up a bit, courtesy of the Eastman School of Music jazz department.
Beginning in December, and continuing through May 2003, jazz students from the School will perform in Midtown Plaza’s main plaza area from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on the first and third Friday of each month. These free, “open air” performances will feature a wide variety of jazz played by several talented student combos — duos, trios, and other small groups.
“This gives us another great opportunity to perform — and a chance to share our music with a wider audience,” said alto sax player Matthew Pivec, who, along with bassist Ike Sturm are the two motivated graduate students who have volunteered to coordinate the periodic gigs.
“Hopefully some of the people who hear us at Midtown will decide to take in some of our jazz concerts in Kilbourn Hall or Eastman Theatre,” added Sturm.
In addition to providing the students with a different venue to showcase their talents, the “Friday Jazz” performances will bring high-quality music to downtown workers and visitors. “Midtown Plaza and the Eastman School are great downtown neighbors,” said Lawrence J. Cohen, principal of Midtown Rochester Properties. “And just as Midtown has always been a center of community activity downtown, we welcome ‘Friday Jazz,’ which is sure to delight our shoppers and diners.”
The first performance will take place Friday, December 6. It will feature Pivec, alto sax; Brian Vanarsdale, tenor sax; Clarence Hines and Dan Pierce, trombones; Dan Loomis, bass; Michael Stryker, piano; and Brady Miller, drums. The next performance, Friday, December 20, will feature Sturm and other students performing jazz arrangements of holiday music.
The suggestion for jazz at Midtown came to Eastman School Director and Dean James Undercofler through Eastman alumnus and Penfield resident Ned Corman, founder of The Commission Project, who had had discussions with Home Properties. Undercofler supported the idea and shared it with Harold Danko, chair of the School’s Jazz department, who thought it would be an excellent project for students in the School’s “Jazz Performance Workshops.”
“This is a win-win situation for our students and Midtown,” said Undercofler. “Enriching the Rochester community through music has always been an important part of an Eastman education. Our students have seized this opportunity, and I commend them for it.”