July 17, 2018
Every summer, the past and the future of jazz connect at West Chester University when youth from the School of Music’s jazz camp meet alumni from WCU’s premiere jazz ensemble, The Criterions. These alumni musicians from the 1960s through the 20-teens bring their talents to the Asplundh Concert Hall stage for a free concert of jazz, big band, swing, and more.
This is the 33rd year for The Criterions reunion, which intentionally coincides with the WCU Summer Jazz Camp, a week-long residential program that runs from Sunday, July 15, through Friday, July 20, this year. Students in the camp’s honors track have the opportunity to open for the Criterions alumni, and several former Criterions teach workshops at the camp, along with WCU School of Music faculty. As the universal language, music bridges the age gap.
Lee Southall ’64, who was leader of the Criterions (“Crites”) in his senior year and directs and plays trombone in the reunion group, conceived of the concert and has organized it nearly every year. It’s a two-day event, with rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday (both free and open to the public), a reunion picnic, plus the concert itself.
Southall shares some of the director’s rehearsal and concert duties with other Crites alumni as well as with Marc Jacoby, WCU associate professor of music and Jazz Studies Coordinator, who also directs the Jazz Camp, the current Criterions students ensemble, and the Latin Jazz Ensemble.
The free concert takes place Thursday, July 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall in Philips Memorial Building. Rehearsals on Wednesday (approx. 10 a.m. to noon and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.) and Thursday morning (10 a.m. to noon) in the concert hall are also free and open to the public.
The Criterions student band has been active on campus since the 1920s, when it was established as a dance band, making it the longest running university jazz band in the country.
“We all return to play the music that we love and that unites us no matter our age or occupation or what we have experienced in life,” Southall says.