Mississippi jazz warms cool spring air concert

April 17, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE-The sweet, hot sounds of jazz warmed the cool spring air Wednesday night at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Center for the Arts Richard and Helen Brodbeck Concert Hall.

It was the first visit to UWP for the 23-member Mississippi Valley State University jazz band, directed by Kenneth Milton. The MVSU jazz combo and jazz ensemble cut loose with funk, classical and blues, playing numbers such as "The Best of Earth, Wind and Fire," and "I'll Always Smile in Spring."

The performance, which included the UWP Jazz Ensemble II, directed by Gary Leopold, was part of a two-day exchange program that was the result of a relationship begun one year ago at Itta Bena, Miss. UWP's jazz band performed concerts at MVSU and area schools.

"It was exciting to hear what another university like MVSU is doing, and to see and hear what other students are playing," said Leopold.

Part of a multicultural education and partnership project, the exchange is deemed successful by UWP Fine Arts Chair Dan Fairchild.

"We've been working on this for a year," said Fairchild. "It is a delight for us. Musicians always like to play together."

The MVSU musicians went to classes with UWP students and also performed at a noon concert in the Pioneer Student Center.

The exchange is a great opportunity for both schools, Leopold added. "Even though music is a universal language, the schools have different approaches."

UWP's jazz ensemble played five selections, including "Ballad for Jenny," "In Her Family," "Scoot" and "Oops There!"

Matt Schrader, parliamentarian for UWP's music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha, said the concert was a great opportunity. "We get to hear people from another part of the country. Any part of a cultural exchange is great."

Schrader understands cultural nuances. "When I was a freshman in high school we moved from upstate New York to Wisconsin, and of course it was somewhat of a culture shock."

The exchange, part of the "Strengthening the UWP, UW-Richland and MVSU Partnership" includes not only the jazz music exchange program between students enrolled at the three universities, but student and student teacher exchange programs as well.

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