Bringing a Big Band Sound to Transpositions
By Natalie Becker
Transpositions, the interdisciplinary showcase bringing together seven departments, just got a whole lot louder. Each performance of Transpositions will kick off with a big band sound, courtesy of the Austin Community College Music Department.
The Jazz Ensemble, directed by Tom Husak, was founded in the early 1980’s and is composed of many continuing education music students and even a music professor. Professor Steven Sodders not only plays in the Jazz Ensemble, he directs the Stage Ensemble, which he founded.
“I kept getting emails from students asking to audition, but we didn’t have any spots left in the Jazz Ensemble. It seemed like a good time to open up a second big band,” says Sodders. The Stage Ensemble is now over half a decade old and provides a different musical repertory compared to the Jazz Ensemble. “Husak’s band is more a show band. While we cover music from the beginnings of jazz such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington, all the way up through modern jazz tunes,” says Sodders.
He’s been working hard to create the perfect set to perform at Transpositions. “I cherry pick from the pieces that suit us best. We like to have a wide variety of styles to offer musicians and audiences,” Sodders says. The Stage Ensemble allows students the opportunity to experience multiple roles within the band by including vocalists and soloists. “It helps the flow of the show and gives students a chance to step out in a new role,” says Sodders. For Transpositions, the band has created a diverse set covering multiple musical styles.“It’s kind of an overview of the history of swing,” says Sodders.
Not only is the band excited to perform at Transpositions, but they’re also looking forward to much larger opportunity. Transpositions is creating a foundation for students and faculty across different departments to all collaborate for the first time. However, after the move to Highland Campus, Sodders and his fellow faculty members anticipate collaborations becoming a regular occurrence.
“Our musicians and composers would love to be collaborating with the dance department. These collaborations would be a wonderful opportunity for music performers as well. Working with film, there are opportunities for music composers and music business students. The world is becoming so multimedia, and it’s a big plus for the program if we can give students opportunities to experience that world,” says Sodders. “Transpositions is a kickoff to future collaborations and a relationship between the art departments at the new Highland space.”
Transpositions is August 11 & 12 at the Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus Mainstage Theater. Each evening will begin with an hour of live music and arts exhibitions at 7 pm, followed by the stage performance at 8pm. The show is free and open to the public.