On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Missouri Western Jazz Ensemble played at the Mayor’s Thanksgiving Dinner. This event was a fundraiser to support the Second Harvest Food Bank. Second Harvest is the local food bank in St. Joseph, and during the holiday season they package Thanksgiving meals to give to families in need. 


Bob Long, the director of jazz studies, explained the group's excitement about being invited to perform at an event as big as the Thanksgiving Dinner. 


“They [the students] were excited about doing it," Long said. “It’s the first official performance for the year, so we got to go out and kind of see how things are working. They asked the music department for an ensemble that can do the performance and we were the ones that stood up and said ‘Yeah, we will do it.' It fits our schedule to be able to do that and it’d be great to get out and do our first performance.”


Hannah Crain, a junior at Missouri Western, is double majoring in musical arts and graphic design. Crain is proud to be a part of the jazz ensemble as a pianist. She spoke about Tuesday's performance.


“I feel really good about it [the performance]," Crain explained. “There were some technical difficulties, not on our end, but the performance itself was really good. All the soloists killed it and I think it was really good. We got a good response from the crowd.” 


Playing live music in a space such as the Civic Arena will always come with pros and cons. Such a large, concrete space can impact the sound of the ensemble, but playing in front of so many people is a rewarding experience. Crain talked about the importance of the arts to be involved in the city and events like the Mayor’s Thanksgiving Dinner Fundraiser. 


“I think it is really important for the arts to be involved in events like that," Crain said. “Not just because they felt like they needed to have something there, but they invited us which was really cool. So it shows that not only is Missouri Western a big part of Saint Joseph’s identity but that there are also people out there thinking about the arts and wanting to include the arts.” 


Crain and Long expressed their feelings of pride and excitement for future performances for the jazz ensemble. 


“I am just really proud of us," Crain said. “For me personally, I just started picking up jazz piano last semester, and seeing the growth that not just me as a soloist, but as an ensemble itself, is really inspiring. I am just proud of us for doing it and killing it.” 


“It was really nice to be able to do that for that organization [the Second Harvest]," Long said. “Everything that organization does for this community and the regional area, it's just nice to be able to give them some kind of entertainment and be able to do something for them short term.” 


With their first official performance of the year out of the way, the Missouri Western jazz ensemble will assess the performance and learn from it. They are preparing for their fall concert that will take place in Potter Theater on Nov. 17.


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