Third time’s the charm
MRU’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble hopes for a steadier ride this season
About this time two years ago, Mount Royal University very quietly put together a brand new vocal jazz ensemble. Since then, the choir has seen an overhaul of nearly every singer, was cancelled and then re-instated, and is about to go onto its third conductor to start its third season.
Suffice to say, it has been a bit of a bumpy road.
The group was put together by David Grimstead, who viewed the ensemble as a side project to his work done as the head of the fine arts department at Western Canada High School. After one season and two gigs, Grimstead retired from teaching and moved west.
In came Colin Haydu, who unfortunately wasn’t as well received as well as Grimstead. In a previous article in The Reflector, then-member and MRU student Ian Ridewood noted that the teaching styles between the two were very different, and that Haydu had some “questionable choices” as far as the repertoire.
Glee fever had struck at Mount Royal, and the vocal jazz group was performing TV hits instead of jazz classics.
The group finished out the season, but the interest was dwindling. Between a lack of funds and a lack of voices, particularly male singers, the ensemble did not start up again at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.
Unfortunately, the jazz ensemble garners nowhere near the kind of attention that the other jazz groups get around Mount Royal, particularly those who play the Friday afternoon jazz at The Hub. When the ensemble took its hiatus it went pretty much unnoticed, as most students didn’t even know it was a thing to begin with.
Now, Jason Erhardt is picking up the beat and with it trying to bring some stability to the ensemble. Erhardt, a former Minister of Worship Arts at the First Alliance Church of Calgary, brings a wealth of experience that MRU is hoping to benefit from. Over the span of his career, he has performed as a soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted with numerous groups, and is no stranger to Mount Royal, teaching here from back when the school was still a college.
It isn’t too late to sign up to be a part of the ensemble, as their season won’t officially begin until Feb. 5.
Jason Erhardt was unavailable for comment as he was out of the country at the time of publication, but make sure to check thereflector.ca for an updated version of this story and find out what Erhardt plans to bring to MRU’s vocal jazz ensemble.