Commencement-Eve Pops offers musical tour of America

Doug Osborne-Coy
Dr. Nick Weiser and orchestra on stage

Dr. Nick Weiser and the Fredonia Jazz Orchestra will be featured along with the Fredonia Vocal Jazz Ensemble when Rockefeller Arts Center presents “A Big Band Musical Tour of America,” the 2024 Commencement-Eve Pops concert.

From Glenn Miller’s “St. Louis Blues” and Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” to Nat King Cole’s “Route 66” and Gladys Night’s “Midnight Train to Georgia,” hundreds of songs have been written about famous American cities, states and places.

Rockefeller Arts Center’s 2024 Commencement-Eve Pops will cover these tunes and more with “A Big Musical Tour of America” on Friday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. in King Concert Hall at SUNY Fredonia.

Tickets are available online 24/7. Tickets may also be purchased on Monday, Wednesday or Friday by phone at (716) 673-3501 or in person at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center.

The concert will feature the 17-piece Fredonia Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Nick Weiser and the Fredonia Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Assistant Professor James Harrington on a “musical tour of America that spans from north to south and from sea to shining sea.”

Also in the spotlight will be a number of student dancers performing to choreography by SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Paul Mockovak.

Rockefeller Arts Center Director Jefferson Westwood serves as producer for the Commencement-Eve Pops. He said the “rough idea” of a concert based on tunes about U.S. cities and states developed slowly over a number of years as he looked through printed and online catalogs of big band charts.

“It actually came into more focus as Dr. Weiser and I were finalizing the repertoire for our 2022 Commencement-Eve concert, ‘A Salute to the Big Apple,’” he said. “Once we had a cluster of well-known tunes, we started looking aggressively for other compositions to complete the program. This led to the inclusion of ‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ and ‘Midnight Train to Georgia.”

Rockefeller Arts Center’s Commencement-Eve Pops is a tradition dating back 30-plus years. The goal of the 2024 edition is to once again provide an enjoyable evening of musical entertainment.

“I’m always happy when audience members tell me how impressed they are with the quality and professionalism of our student performers,” Mr. Westwood said.

“Commencement-Eve Pops: A Big Band Musical Tour of America” is a DFT Communication Pops Series event presented as part of the 2023-24 Lake Shore Savings Season at Rockefeller Arts Center.





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