Lawton_Lawton has been getting jazzed up this week for Cameron University's 32nd Annual Jazz Festival. It features a free concert Thursday night performed by the Cameron University Jazz Ensemble, and the Cameron-Lawton Community Jazz. Joining them will be the nationally acclaimed Synergy Brass Quintet.
The Synergy Brass Quintet has been at Cameron this week working with talented Cameron students to make them even better. While jazz may not be as popular as it used to be, Cameron University Music Professor John Moots wants to make sure jazz will never go out of style, so he created the Lawton Jazz Festival. "We started in 1976 and our purpose was to bring professional bands to southwest Oklahoma and North Texas," he says.
This year's professional ensemble is the Synergy Quintet, led by trumpet player Bobby Thorp who was born in Lawton. "This was pretty much what we did to have fun in college, but shortly after college it became a career and now we entertain about 250 concerts a year," says Thorp. "We go all over the world. This year we'll be going to Japan as well as stops throughout South America, and we'll be teaching a class at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England."
The group came to Lawton to work with Cameron University music students, and they gave a children's concert and clinic for high school students. "They have lectured and demonstrated and played for four American popular music classes - large lecture classes," says Moots. " They've been rehearsing with the university jazz ensemble."
They are not your traditional formal brass quintet, often dancing while they play. "They've been giving private lessons to the students, and master classes on each of the brass instruments, and it's been inspiring to see the teaching and the process going on." says Moots. "The class that's going on behind us right now is led by Jesse Chavez, our tuba player, and he's teaching them basic breathing techniques that will help them perform a little bit better."
The group puts a huge emphasis on teaching. Then, they perform with the students - which they will do tonight. "The event tonight is going to be absolutely spectacular. We're going to be performing with the Cameron University Jazz Band and Cameron-Lawton Community Jazz Ensemble, and we're also going to performing part of the concert just on our own," says Thorp.
Synergy uses their style, and youthful attitude to draw in audiences who may have negative attitudes about the orchestral instruments. "What we try to do is bring people back to the concert hall and show them it's not scary," says Thorp. "Classical music isn't scary. It's music that was originally written for everybody...and that's what we do. We bring it to everybody."