Faculty Jazz Ensemble Aims to Rejuvenate and Enrich Andover Community

The smooth, sonorous tones of Bronislaw Kaper’s “Invitation” filled the air, introducing Andover’s first Faculty Jazz Ensemble of 2021. Composed of seven performances, some which were arranged by the faculty themselves, the set included a diverse range of jazz styles, ranging from swing to bebop to samba. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to play together—there are many really good musicians who teach in the Music Department. We get to have a great project and play some great music together,” said Instructor in Music and participant Peter Cirelli.

These faculty performances first began around thirty-five years ago, and while there have been numerous changes in personnel since then, three of the original participants played in the ensemble this past Sunday. This performance was also significant, as it is the first to occur since 2020. To accommodate the changes made by Covid-19, all of the performers, even those who played wind instruments, had to wear specialized masks. 

“The mask[s] have a slot in the middle, and you put the mouthpiece through the slot. It is not as much fun as playing without a mask, I can tell you that, because it makes it more difficult to inhale. I play trombone, and I need a lot of air. The mask does not help that cause, but we’re doing what we need to do,” said Cirelli.

Sam Spear, Instructor in Music, remarked that she enjoyed playing original compositions, and her favorite pieces that the group performed were two titled “Contemplation” and “Darn that Dream.” She commented on the importance of staying up to date on the latest trends in music and continuing to practice so she can stay in touch with her students.

“I think that for music or any field, if you are not practicing in that field, if you’re not performing or composing or contributing to the field, then you start to become a little dated or stale, and you don’t have that experience to bring to the students and enrich this community. So I think it’s really important for faculty to be active in their field and [bring] that into the school,” said Spear.

Although many of the participants have been contributing to these ensembles for a long time, this was Spear’s first time participating in the faculty group. Spear hopes that the group’s music will excite musicians and non-musicians alike.

“Whether they’re musicians or not, I hope that our music uplifts them, and gets them ready for a great week… And then for those who are musicians, I hope it inspires them artistically. It gives them ideas on things to work on and songs to check out. And inspiration to keep going for it,” said Spear.