NATCHITOCHES – Alumni from Northwestern State University’s Jazz Orchestra will perform a special concert on Friday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Alumni Plaza on the NSU campus. Admission is free and open to the public.
A 21-piece orchestra directed by NSU Associate Professor of Music Galindo Rodriguez will perform. Nearly 20 other former members of the Jazz Orchestra are also expected to attend. The featured performers will be NSU alumni vocalist D’nissa Hester and trumpeter Carlos Ortiz IV.
The Alumni Jazz Orchestra will include saxophones Leslie Loanzon of Gonzales, Marcus Barber of San Antonio, Texas, Ken Miller of Dallas, Jason Morris of Tickfaw and Linda Aguilar of Austin, Texas. The trumpet section is Andrew Bezik of Arlington, Texas, Joel Adair of Palestine, Texas, John Chappell of Nederland, Texas, Daniel Guyton of Baton Rouge and Kazue Seo Takamatsu, Japan. The trombone section will be Eddie Elsey of Zachary, Rance Hawthorne of White Oak, Texas, Cory Knippers of Many, and Brandon Barnes of Vero Beach, Florida. The orchestra will also include Ronald Rodriguez of Cartagena, Colombia, on piano, David Brouillette of New Orleans on bass, Patrick Bordelon of Greenwell Springs on guitar, Jimmy Leach of Longview, Texas, on vibraphone and Curtis Simmons of Marshall, Texas Antoine De Hon of Monroe and Jason Lancaster of Longview, Texas on drums.
Hester is a native of Amarillo, Texas. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master of Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting from Northwestern State. She has studied at the Taos Opera Institute under world renowned sopranos Mary Jane Johnson and Linda Poetschke. She has also trained under Dr. Maryann Kyle as a teaching fellow at the International Performing Arts Institute located in Kiefersfelden, Germany. In 2010, she became a member of the NSU faculty teaching voice, theory and piano to music and theatre students. In 2012, Hester was the Louisiana representative at the regional NATSA competition. While at NSU she regularly performs with many ensembles including; the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra, NSU Jazz Orchestra, NSU Wind Symphony, NSU Percussion Ensemble, as well as multiple faculty recitals and concerts. Also, she performs around the Natchitoches area with the Red River Choral, Kisatchie Sound and can be seen weekly performing with her husband as part of DAT Acoustic Act, a folk/acoustic duo.
Ortiz established himself as a versatile trumpet player performing in numerous jazz, funk and R&B bands in Louisiana as well as in Texas while studying under Rodriguez at NSU. Carlos was also part of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra where he was principal chair and co-principal of the NSU Wind Symphony. He was the first recipient of the Dave Hardin Jazz Scholarship and conducted the jazz band on numerous occasions at the Jazz R&B festival in Natchitoches.
After graduating from NSU with a bachelor’s in music, Ortiz went on to pursue his masters in jazz at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. While at Duquesne, he again established himself as a versatile trumpet player by performing in various groups and forming his own group, Chico’s Quintet. His quintet performed at numerous clubs and private events in the Pittsburgh area and has performed at the Youngstown Jazz Festival and the 2011 Guyasuta Festival in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. Chico’s Quintet has also released their debut album “Just Music”, which is comprised of original music written by the members in the band. “Just Music” is available on iTunes, Amazon and Cdbaby.
The Alumni Jazz Orchestra concert is being performed in conjunction with NSU Homecoming Festivities that will take place Oct. 26-27. The concert will follow the opening of an alumni art exhibition in Hanchey Gallery featuring woodworker Michael Wilson.
A full schedule of Homecoming event is available at Northwesternalumni.com.