Performance Opportunities

Students get the opportunity to perform in great venues like the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, the MSU Auditorium’s Fairchild Theatre, and the MSU Music Building’s Cook Recital Hall.

Jazz Studies' students enjoy a wide range of performance opportunities. Our ensembles include twelve jazz combos, four octets and three big bands. Visit our Jazz Student Ensembles section to learn more about performance opportunities and audition information.

Jazz Orchestra I

Conductor: Rodney Whitaker
The nineteen-piece Jazz Orchestra I (The Be-Bop Spartans) is a young, swinging college band playing the repertoire of the great jazz masters as well as a wide range of soul, swing, blues, and gospel. The group’s instrumentation includes saxophone, trombone, trumpet, bass, drums, piano, guitar, and vocalists. Recent appearances include:

  • Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, New York City
  • Detroit International Jazz Festival
  • Jazz at the Center Series, Detroit
  • Detroit Symphony Club Series at the Max
  • Notre Dame and Elmhurst Collegiate Jazz Festivals
  • Trinidad Tabago (University of Trinidad Tabago Cultural Exchange)
  • Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative celebrations, MSU 
  • Numerous venues throughout Michigan

Awards:

  • Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, outstanding ensemble award (2005, 2008)
  • Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, outstanding saxophone section award (2005, 2008)
  • Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, numerous outstanding soloist awards (2005, 2008)
  • Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, outstanding rhythm section award (2005)
  • Elmhurst Collegiate Jazz Festival, outstanding rhythm section award (2003, 2005)
  • Elmhurst Collegiate Jazz Festival, outstanding jazz ensemble award (2003, 2008)
  • Elmhurst Collegiate Jazz Festival, numerous outstanding soloist awards (2005, 2008)
  • Elmhurst Collegiate Jazz Festival, outstanding saxophone section award (2005, 2008)

Jazz Orchestra II and III

Conductors: Etienne Charles (II) and Michael Dease (III)

Jazz Octet I

Conductor: Diego Rivera
The eight-piece Jazz Octet I blends the sounds of big band with small-group performance. This ensemble features the most advanced students of MSU’s jazz area, providing an opportunity to showcase their improvisational skills. The group’s instrumentation includes bass, drums, piano, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet, and trombone.

Jazz Octets II-IV

Conductors:  Diego Rivera (II), Xavier Davis (III), Randy Napoleon (IV)

Jazz Combos

Directors: Randy Gelispie, Michael Dease, Seth Ebersole, Nick Bracewell, Sage Khan, Olin Clark, and Gina Benalcazar.
There are twelve jazz combos in the Jazz Studies program, each consisting of four to six members forming quartets, quintets, and sextets. Students audition at the beginning of each school year and are placed in a combo, which is coached by one of the combo directors or graduate assistants. Class performance time takes place in Hart Recital Hall each week where combos perform two selections. Combo members are responsible for their own repertoire and arrangements.