Caltech stages annual jazz fest then teams with Occidental for classical concerts
By Carl Kozlowski 04/23/2014
With spring under way and students racing toward finals and summer break, one might expect all the brilliant young minds at Caltech to be up to their eyeballs in textbooks. But even geniuses need a break.
This weekend some of the sharpest minds in the nation will also be among the most musical as Caltech hosts two major musical events Saturday.
First, Caltech’s 14th Annual Jazz Festival takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Gates Annex Patio, located just west of Dabney Lounge. The lineup includes the Caltech Monday Night Jazz Ensemble, as well as the Nick Broten Group, the Pasadena City College Jazz ensemble directed by Andrea Baker Wilkerson and Lounge-O-Rama.
The Monday Night band will open the festival with upbeat swing and contemporary selections ranging from Count Basie to Pat Metheny. A combination of Caltech students and Jet Propulsion Laboratory workers, the band has been entertaining audiences for more than 35 years.
Meanwhile, rising LA jazz star Broten is both a Caltech graduate and a tenor saxophonist who will lead his quartet in energetic improvised music based upon original compositions from graduates of Caltech, USC and CalArts. The Jazz Ensemble has played with nationally regarded artists such as Gordon Goodwin and the Big Phat Band, Kris Berg, Steve Wilkerson and Ira Nepus.
Lounge-O-Rama rounds things out by taking audiences on a musical journey with jazz, blues, soul and rock and roll. They have been playing for more than a decade, led by a front line known as the Sax Divas, and also include five lead vocalists, a lead guitarist and a hard-swinging horn section.
“We are really excited to be able to perform this weekend and offer an event to the broader Pasadena community,” says Barb Catlin, Caltech’s jazz director and leader of the Caltech Jazz Band. “This festival represents the vibe of Pasadena-culture because it’s fun and eclectic. It should be a beautiful day for any outdoor activity, so we look forward to meeting new friends.”
The fun doesn’t stop there, however.
The Caltech-Occidental Symphony and the combined Occidental and Caltech glee clubs present Mozart’s “Requiem” and Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto” in two matching concerts. “Requiem” should be especially memorable, because it features 100 singers and marks the first time in several years that both schools’ choruses will combine in concert.
“Historically, the combined Caltech-Occidental Symphony dates back to the mid-1970’s, and the Caltech-Occidental Concert Band has combined since the early 1980’s,” says Allen Robert Gross, director of the Caltech-Occidental Symphony Orchestra. “I am retiring from Occidental at the end of the academic year, but will continue to conduct the orchestra at Caltech. At this time, I don’t know what Occidental’s future connection with the orchestra will be, but I hope that Oxy will continue to participate.”
The 14th Annual Caltech Jazz Festival takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Gates Annex Patio on the Caltech campus, 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena. Admission is free. Call (626) 395-3295 or visit bands.caltech.edu.
The Caltech-Occidental Symphony performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Thorne Hall, Occidental College, 1600 Campus Drive, Los Angeles. They will also perform at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, 500 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Admission is free. Call (626) 395-3295.