Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Choir program launches new vocal jazz ensemble

Central’s choir program will debut a new vocal jazz ensemble this year as the newest of its various extracurricular groups.

The ensemble is directed by Lauren Berryhill, a choir teacher in her first year at Central. Last spring, choir teacher Kelly Mielcarz started a vocal jazz ensemble that operated as a non-auditioned group that rehearsed before school. Now, the ensemble has shifted to be an auditioned group rehearsing after school. 

The ensemble recently completed its competitive audition process, solidifying the group’s membership for the year. This process required members to learn the Illinois Music Education Association All-State vocal jazz audition as well as multiple jazz and blues scales.

The ensemble will be performing at the music department’s Winter Festival in December as well as the choir Pops Concert in March. Berryhill hopes to see the ensemble grow in the next few years.

“I would love to bring students to festivals and have them not only watch other vocal jazz groups perform but get opportunities to [have clinics] and learn from extraordinary jazz educators,” Berryhill said. 

Transitioning into jazz is a big adjustment for students,  Berryhill said. The genre involves a unique feel of time, called swing. It also requires knowledge of different harmonic structures that are often more complex than those found in traditional concert choir music.

“[Last spring] was my first experience with jazz and because of that, I wasn’t super great, but I improved because of it,” sophomore member Carter Golk said. 

For other members of the group, it allows them to experience jazz in a different way.

“I personally have been involved with jazz for a while [as an instrumentalist], but I love singing,” senior Bianca Cima said. “I thought that since vocal jazz was a very new opportunity to Central, I might as well take advantage of it.”  

Berryhill said that vocal jazz, while a difficult adjustment for students, is something she is excited to lead.

“I’ve been so inspired by the students’ willingness to learn something new and prepare for an audition,” Berryhill said. “It’s exciting to see so many students that are excited about something new.”

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About the Contributor
Nolan Shen, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Nolan is a senior, entering his third year on staff. He is excited to be heading the Arts and Entertainment section this year. When not writing for CT, he can be found playing with the Marching Redhawks Drumline, performing in the Naperville Youth Symphony, eating too much McDonald’s, and watching bad sci-fi movies. Next year, he plans on going to college to study political science and hopefully not flunk out.

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