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The Jazz and Contemporary Vocal Department is a new department that has been forming over the past four years at SOTA. It was only this year that the group of young musicians, led by Angie Doctor and co-director Steve Blum, were able to become their own department within the Classical Vocal department. This year's five seniors are the VERY FIRST senior class of the newly formed Jazz and Contemporary Vocal Department to graduate.

Performing were the five young women who will be the first graduating class of this new department: Kathlynn Simotas, Briana Sabella, Ava Kennedy, Ella Stewart, and Maddie Muzio. On April 29, 2017, they gave an absolutely fascinating senior recital, featuring Max Tarlov, Nathan Savant, and Nelson Koskela, who are also seniors who participate in the jazz ensemble rehearsals. The recital also featured the Advanced Jazz Choir consisting of the seniors and Sivan Levavi, Danielle Ho-Vuong, Vyncent Guerra, and Cap Sharon. Performing were also Makeda Abiol, Oliver Paddock, and Cimone Powell. Joey Clayson played the cello for the opening number and Jake Levy performed in a later number with Briana Sabella.

The program was organized in a way that it traced a timeline of all four years of high school, starting from freshman year and ending with the infamous senior year. Before each year, the five senior girls would talk about each of their experiences in said year. The experiences were so much different from each other, and yet they all ended with the same note that they were all happy to be where they were now: in the Jazz and Contemporary Dept.

Maddie Muzio performed an original song Why Should I Cry To You? and For No One by Paul McCartney. Her beautiful voice projected all the mixed feelings in both pieces as well as spoke to the audience with its sincerity.

Ava Kennedy performed Corcovado (Quiet Nights) by Antonio Carlos Jobim and In A Sentimental Mood by Duke Ellington. With her flexible voice, Ava demonstrated her ability to portray a sensual mood in the music in two different pieces. Her rich low tones sent shivers down the audience's back and in In A Sentimental Mood, her high register impressed the audience with its angelic tone quality.

Ella Stewart performed Across the Universe by John Lennon and Vienna by Billy Joel. Ella presented two very extreme qualities of her performance skills in her two selections, singing one with the band and the second accompanying herself on ukulele. When Ella sang Vienna with her ukulele, she made the performance very cozy and intimate with the softness of the ukulele and her melismatic voice.

Briana Sabella performed I Put A Spell On You by Screaming Jay Hawkins, with Jake Levy on saxophone and And I'm Telling You by Tom Eyen, Henry Krieger, from Dreamgirls. I Put A Spell On You was a true dynamic duo with Briana and Jake. With the band playing in the back, the call and response effect created by the two performers was phenomenal, especially with such a passionate and effective song like I Put A Spell On You. During And I'm Telling You, Briana took the house down with her powerful voice and bumped up the emotional level by a lot, captivating the audience with her heartfelt performance.

Kathylnn Simotas performed Lately by Stevie Wonder and an original called The Girl With the Voice (Part III). Both pieces were performed very sentimentally and with moving affection. Her original composition was the third in her trilogy of songs written about herself. The profoundness and assurance with which Kathlynn sang gave heart to the audience and really showed hope and positivity.

The group numbers performed that evening varied in style and were very reminiscent of the four years I have spent with these wonderful people.

The band playing consisted of Steve Blum on piano, Gabe Case on bass, and Redger Parker (SOTA ALUMNI) on percussion/drums.


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