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Vocal jazz brings UWSP students, campuses together

For the Metro Wire

Faith Hatch and Andrea Tillou are singing the praises of the 2018 UW System restructuring plan.

The two UW-Stevens Point fine arts majors are already taking advantage of new course offerings at its new Wausau branch campus.

Hatch and Tillou are among six UWSP students who have been traveling regularly to the Wausau campus this fall to participate in Jazz Central Voices or Vocal Jazz Ensemble, credit-bearing courses led by Timothy Buchholz, associate professor of music. The ensembles perform throughout central Wisconsin and include students from the Wausau and Stevens Point campuses, local high school students and community members.

“This is my second semester in JCV (Jazz Central Voices), but now it counts toward my major,” said Hatch, a Lodi High School graduate who will complete her jazz performance degree with a vocal emphasis next May. “I heard about the groups through my professors at UWSP. Dr. Buchholz is an incredible teacher. As a UW-Stevens Point student, I am glad I’m able to learn from him.

“I always knew I wanted to go to school for music. It’s my number one passion, and I’ve never imagined doing anything else,” added Hatch, who began taking piano lessons from her mother at age 3 and has been singing in church and various school choirs and plays since she was a child.

“I’ve loved music as long as I can remember,” said Tillou, a first-generation college student from Wausau and graduate of DC Everest High School in Schofield. “The way music makes me feel is what spurred my interest. It’s always been something I’ve been incredibly passionate about.

“I love rehearsing and performing with these musicians because of the energy and talent that surrounds me,” Tillou said. “We all have very different everyday lives, but we come together to work on challenging music to form a cohesive sound.”

Buchholz said she is excited about what the three-campus UWSP means for current and future music students, including new program opportunities.

UWSP at Wausau is one of only two colleges in the state with vocal jazz ensembles in its curriculum, he noted. Students attending the main campus are now able to enroll in either of Wausau’s two vocal jazz ensembles, an educational experience not available to them before the restructuring took effect.

“The merger has also benefited our ensembles on the Wausau campus, as we now have a much larger pool of students to draw from when holding auditions,” Buchholz said. “I am sure this number will increase as more students become aware of this unique opportunity.”

New program opportunities are among the goals of the restructuring that joined two-year campuses with four-year UW institutions.

Hatch credits her participation in Jazz Central Voices for helping her to grow as a jazz singer. “It’s challenging but very rewarding,” she said. “The music we sing is incredible, and it’s very good ear training.

“I’ve learned about so many new arrangers and composers that have broadened my horizons of jazz vocalists. Being exposed to more vocal jazz ensemble repertoire has prepared me more for what I want to do in the future,” said Hatch. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in music therapy so she can work with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients to help improve their memory retention and quality of life.

Although Tillou doesn’t plan to sing professionally after earning her arts management degree from UW-Stevens Point in 2020, she believes her Jazz Central Voices experience will continue to pay dividends.

“Being part of JCV has led me to making [sic] connections with awesome people, as well as keeping up my music skills and passion for it,” she said. “These experiences are very useful for me in my major, and being part of the group makes me happier in life.”