The Arts are EssentialThe Fine Arts program is a crucial part of Lovett's philosophy of educating the whole child. Studies have proven that the arts promote critical thinking, self-confidence, discipline, and more. Want to learn more? Follow this blog from Fine Arts Director Jay Freer.
Saying Goodbye to StutzA 29-year career at Lovett could not end quietly, particularly if you’ve led the Ellington Jazz Ensemble and brought it national recognition. The Fine Arts staff started planning this spring’s Swing Concert over a year ago as a tribute to retiring Upper School Band Director Stutz Wimmer after he announced the 2015-16 school year would be his last.
Fine Arts Director Jay Freer began reaching out to guest artists and former students. “The hardest part of this was to handle all of the arrangements of the music and the plan for how these guest artists would be involved — thank goodness Jazz is all about improvisation,” said Freer. Carla Wimmer, Stutz’s wife and a former Lovett Middle School band director, looked at the planned music and began finding ways to work the artists in without diminishing the present Ellington students’ participation in the final concert. Lovett’s Advancement staff got involved and started the Stutz Wimmer Scholarship Fund to honor the retiring band director. Lovett’s Alumni Office contacted all alumni band members involved in the program over the last 29 years. The Fine Arts department planned a post-concert reception. A timeline is being produced to memorialize the 29 years; it will hang in the hallway near Band Room 2 and includes a listing of all students, significant dates, guest artists, and performances through Stutz’s time at Lovett.
Parents, students, teachers, and Fine Arts staff kept all under wraps – even so much as to secretly get guest artists on campus, have them warm up, and escort them to the stage without Stutz’s knowledge.
A guest artist and an alum worked to get a message from Wynton Marsalis recorded for the concert. Victor Goines, who has been a guest artist with Ellington, plays in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and is a member of the Marsalis Septet, convinced Marsalis to participate, while Blake Williams, a former Ellington Band member and owner of Proper Medium (the company that records Lovett Fine Arts performances), went to New York to record Marsalis’ message.
The result of all the hard work was a phenomenal concert and an amazing send-off on April 24 in the Hendrix-Chenault Theater. Four guest artists performed: Victor Goines, Marcus Printup (trumpeter and also a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra), Alexandra Jackson ‘02 (a jazz vocalist who got her start in Ellington and has been a soloist with Marsalis), and Wycliffe Gordon (trombonist who has also played with Marsalis and been in the Lincoln Center Orchestra).
“This concert was such a labor of love - the chance to honor one of the greatest teachers that ever has worked at Lovett,” said Freer. “We will miss Stutz on an everyday basis, but his legacy will be here every day.”
Stutz, a saxophonist, will continue to perform in his retirement.
Watch the video of the concert here.
Posted by Jay Freer on Tuesday May, 17, 2016 at 09:11AM
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