Doc Severinsen and Jazz Band Bring Down the House at Midwest Band Clinic

January 11, 2018 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Doc Severinsen with the Jazz Band on June 17, 2017, at the annual June Jazz festival

Legendary trumpeter Doc Severinsen and the Elmhurst College Jazz Band recently performed before a standing-room-only crowd of about 3,000 at the 71st Annual Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago.

Severinsen and the Jazz Band, under the direction of Doug Beach, performed the special concert on Dec. 20, 2017—opening night of the Midwest Clinic, one of the world’s largest instrumental music education conferences. The performance drew “multiple standing ovations,” said Peter Griffin, chair of the Elmhurst College Department of Music.

Beach described the Midwest Clinic as “one of premier music education conferences in the world today.”

“For us to be chosen to perform there, and with music legend Doc Severinsen, is one of highest honors we could ask for,” he said. “And to get to play for such an immense crowd of appreciative musicians was an experience none of us will ever forget.”

The Midwest Clinic showcases performances by a variety of music ensembles, and presentations by experts in music education for attendees of all age and experience levels. About 20,000 people attend the conference from all over the world, Griffin said.

The Midwest Clinic concert was the just latest of several joint appearances for Severinsen and the Jazz Band. They performed together at the College’s June Jazz event in 2014 and 2017. In 2016, Severinsen chose the Jazz Band to tour with him throughout Ohio; and this past spring, Elmhurst College awarded Severinsen with an honorary doctoral degree for his contributions to the music world and his special connections to the College.

For 30 years, Severinsen was the sound of late night television on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, bringing his signature playing and big band into the homes of millions around the country. Since the final telecast, Severinsen has continued to perform and record.

The Elmhurst College Jazz Band has performed around the world and appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival and many others. This past summer, the band toured Europe, performing in festivals in France, Switzerland and Italy.

In related news, the music department and its faculty have been in the spotlight at a number of recent prestigious music-education events:

  • Several faculty members served as guest conductors for various Illinois Music Education Association (IMEA) district festivals:
    • Sue Blaese, of the string faculty, conducted the District 3 junior orchestra.
    • Gayle Bisesi, vocal faculty and director of music admission, conducted the District 8 and District 9 vocal jazz ensembles.
    • Peter Griffin, chair of the music department, conducted the District 8 senior band.
  • The music department hosted the District 1 senior music festival for the third year in a row.
  • At the 2018 All-State Music Conference in Peoria later this month:
    • The vocal jazz ensemble Late Night Blues will give a featured performance with guest artist Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer.
    • Doug Beach will hold a clinic on teaching jazz.
    • The All-State Orchestra will be conducted by Joanne May, director of orchestras.
    • The All-State Honors Band will be conducted by Joseph Manfredo, conductor of the Symphonic Band.

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