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Student and Jazz Musician Parker Yi, talks about the upcoming Jazz and Swanee Singers concert at ENMU

GENTRY: And now Great Arts at Eastern, from the Portales campus of Eastern New Mexico University. I’m Jeff Gentry, Dean of the College of Fine Arts here on KENW, Your Public Radio Network. Today my guest is Parker Yi, a student in the Department of Music at ENMU. Thank you for joining me today.

YI: Thank you so much for having me, Doctor Gentry.

GENTRY: So, Parker, you are a double major in music education and performance, and it's safe to say you're a math whiz. Why should our young listeners prioritize academic excellence?

YI: Well, I think part of being able to do what you love, especially in a field like music, is being able to succeed academically. First, because usually, when you are going through grade school, music comes second to your academics, so you should be able to prosper in those that you can do your music as well.

GENTRY: And I know that you perform trombone and euphonium for Eastern. Do you play any other instruments?

YI: So, I’m in the process of learning a couple. Not too great at any of them yet. But trombone even is still new to me. I also have a guitar piano. Pretty standard things like that. I’m just trying to learn how to pick those up so that I can use them in my music later on.

GENTRY: Right, as a music educator.

YI: Yes,

GENTRY: Right, yeah. So yeah. Everybody knows four instruments, right or five? You know it’s you know you really impress me. You and a lot of your music, student colleagues picking up different instruments is-

YI: Thank you.

GENTRY: -is really a great inspiration. So, tell our listeners about tonight’s concert with the Swanee Singers and jazz ensembles.

YI: OK, so tonight's concert. It's at 7:00 PM free admission, and it's a collaborative concert between the ENMU Swanee Singers, which is our premier all-female vocal ensemble. They're really great to listen to. And then also the various jazz ensembles that are at the college. And we're going to be playing a couple pieces as a self-contained ensemble. And then we're also gonna be combining the ensembles to collaborate on several other pieces.

GENTRY: Right, well, I’m glad you mentioned enjoying playing with the Swanee Singers. Do you have a particularly favorite number for tonight?

YI: Well, so my favorite piece that we’re playing is actually a solo jazz ensemble piece. It’s called Dusk till Dawn, and it's kind of like a slow funk feel. I think that one will be pretty popular, but as far as when we combine the ensembles, the Swanee singers are going to be accompanied by the jazz band for Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, which will probably be a hit, since that’s already a pretty well-known tune.

GENTRY: Right, I remember singing that in school.

YI: Oh yeah.

GENTRY: Not that I was in school during World War Two. But- but I am older than the composer of Dusk to Dawn, which is- so that’s got to be a pretty contemporary kind of tune that’s really neat. So, and later this semester, you're going to play at the Roosevelt County Chamber Banquet. That's on March 3rd. Has your band director told you about that yet?

YI: No, actually, this is the first-time hearing

GENTRY: Oh, Oh… Well, breaking news, because you are in the jazz ensemble, right?

YI: Yes, yes,

GENTRY: OK. So just a tip. That Doctor Schwartz, I believe, is going to have you guys playing on March 3rd. It's the chamber banquet. It was rescheduled. It was going to be earlier, but hopefully, I'm not out of line to- to break that now.

YI: That's alright. I'll be looking forward to it, I guess.

GENTRY: Good. Well, you do get gigs, and that's an exciting thing when especially in jazz,

YI: Of course.

GENTRY: Because there’s a lot of demand for- for your ensemble.

YI: Of course, yeah,

GENTRY: So, what is your ideal life five years from now, Parker?

YI: So, I'm not sure whether I'd like to go to grad school or kind of be in the field a little bit more first. But ideally, I would like to perform mainly on my euphonium, and that's not that's not a jazz instrument. I can't play that in the jazz band. And it's also not a super common instrument to have around. But it does have a presence in more like professional wind band settings, so I hopefully will be doing something with that in the future.

GENTRY: Wonderful. Well, thank you, Parker Yi, for joining me on great Arts at Eastern. The Swanee Singers and Jazz Concert is tonight at 7:00 PM in Buchanan Hall. at ENMU in Portales, New Mexico. You can also watch live on the Department of Music YouTube page. All the Great Arts at Eastern are found at enmu.edu/fineartsevents. Thanks for listening on KENW, Your Public Radio Network.


Jazz and Swanee Singers

Richard Schwartz, conductor

Buchanan Hall, Music Building (MB)

Thursday, February 17th | 7 PM.

Related Content
  • Join ENMU College of Fine Arts Dean Jeff Gentry each week on "Great Arts at Eastern," as he interviews artists, actors, entertainers and musicians about their craft and events they produce at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. "Great Arts at Eastern" airs once a week about 12:35 p.m. MT on Thursdays on KENW–FM.This program also is available online by clicking the title of an individual episode listed below.
  • Host of Great Arts at Eastern