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Vocal group to share spotlight for Sept. 26 pops event
Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vocal group to share spotlight for Sept. 26 pops event

The Fredonia Voices are (from left) Lovely Philema, Gabby Carr, Alex Behrens, Vaughn Faison, Jimmy Hartmann, Nathan Guarnere, Katelyn Dietz and Kate Gratson.

The Fredonia Voices, a talented vocal jazz octet, will step into the spotlight once again on the King Concert Hall stage.

The group will be among the featured performers when Rockefeller Arts Center presents “An Evening of Ella and Ellington with The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra” on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

The concert, which is part of the DFT Communications Pops Series, also features Vocal Performance major Nia Drummond and saxophonist Bruce Johnstone, director of Jazz Studies at Fredonia.

The Fredonia Voices formed during the spring of 2014. Johnstone approached Katelyn Dietz, a Theater and Applied Music (voice) major, about creating a jazz vocal group to perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall the following November.

Dietz, reached out to fellow students Vaughn Faison, Kate Gratson, Lovely Philema, Gabby Carr, Nate Guarnere, Jimmy Hartmann and Alex Behrens to form the octet.

It proved to be a winning combination as the group was able to combine individual talent with a common vision for its future.

“Our whole vision was that we didn’t want to be a student group and that we wanted to become a professional ensemble,” said Jimmy Hartmann, a Music Education major.

To this end, the members are committed to incorporating the Fredonia Voices in their careers beyond the college.

“I think as a general consensus we just want to take it as far as we can within reason,” Hartmann said.

“We all have our different paths that we want to follow,” Dietz added, “but this is something that we could feasibly do along with our careers.”

On Sept. 12, the Fredonia Voices performed with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, led by Paul Ferguson, in, “An Evening of Ella and Ellington,” at the Hanna Theatre in Cleveland. This is the same program that will be presented in Fredonia’s King Concert Hall on Sept. 26.

“Just the fact that this is taking us out of the state and across the country is amazing,” Dietz said.

“It’s always good to perform with professional musicians,” said Faison, who graduated last May. “It’s really nice to have that experience.”

“An Evening of Ella and Ellington” will feature the Fredonia Voices performing classic Duke Ellington tunes like “Satin Doll,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “In a Mellow Tone,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” and “I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good.”

Jefferson Westwood, director of Rockefeller Arts Center, arranged the project partnership with the orchestra and helped select the repertoire.

“It was a real joy to accompany the Fredonia Voices and Nia Drummond on the recent trip to Cleveland,” he said. “The CJO are top-notch jazz players – comparable in my opinion to the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra – and our singers matched them in terms of musicianship and professionalism.”

“An Evening of Ella and Ellington with The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra” is sponsored by WDOE, 96 KIX Country and DFT Communications as part of the Lake Shore Savings Season. Tickets are available by phone at 673–3501 or online at

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