A select group of Willamette University students and faculty are spending their spring break in Nepal, where they will work and study at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory.
“The goal is to create this free exchange of ideas,” says James Miley, assistant professor of music. “Our Willamette students will learn just as much from the students there as they will share on their own. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”
Members of the faculty jazz quintet are Miley, associate professor of music Mike Nord and music instructors Ryan Biesack, Tyler Abbott and Sean Flannery. The student musicians are Sean Edging ’14, saxophone; Matt Sazima ’14, piano; Thomas Shipley ’15, bass; and Jarrett Tracy ’15, drums.
The students, chosen through a rigorous application and audition process, will join the faculty in presenting a series of concerts and workshops in Nepal. They will also participate in a week of classes, lessons, workshops and collaborative performances with young Nepali jazz musicians.
“We’re hoping we’ll go to Nepal every other year,” Miley says. “On the off years, we’ll bring people from Kathmandu here. This will be a great experience for our students.”
Willamette’s relationship with the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory began in 2010, when Miley performed in the city’s annual Jazzmandu Jazz Festival with his group, Bug. Afterward, funding was secured and contacts were made with the jazz conservatory, enabling a Willamette faculty group to travel there in 2012.
Two years later, Willamette students are tagging along for the first time — which Tracy views as an opportunity to share his love of jazz with others.
“I am so incredibly excited to see how I can share and learn from this music with both my friends and the accompanying faculty members and, most of all, the students and faculty at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory,” he says.
“With music as the common language between us as ambassadors of Willamette and the students in Nepal, I expect this to be an absolutely unforgettable and potentially life-changing experience.”
Prior to their trip, the Willamette musicians will host a free send-off concert March 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Rogers Music Center’s rehearsal hall. There, they will give a preview of the music they intend to perform in Nepal.