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Drexel Jazz Orchestra Announces Innovative Online Holiday Performance

Musicians in a virtual wonderland
Musicians pictured from left to right are Grace Allen (Drums), Joshua Honey (Bass), Nathaniel Lemisch (Guitar), Amelia Quazi (Alto Saxophone), Jake Karwoski (Trumpet) and Christina Ludwig (Piano)

November 30, 2020

Drexel University’s Jazz Orchestra announced today that they are holding a free, online, virtual reality-fueled holiday performance on Thursday, December 3. In collaboration with Drexel University’s Virtual Reality & Immersive Media program, members of the twenty-piece jazz ensemble will be placed in a virtual winter wonderland to play holiday-themed songs.

According to Brent White, the Director of Drexel’s Jazz Orchestra in the Department of Performing Arts, the innovative performance is meant to uplift people’s spirits right before the holidays.

“This has been a difficult year for a lot of Philadelphia’s community members, with many of the art performances we’d normally look forward to being cut due to the pandemic,” he said. “This show is meant to spread a little cheer just in time for the holiday season, as well as showcasing both the power and ability of live performances in an online environment.”

The show, titled A Jazzy Holiday Overture, will also include live question and answer sessions between jazz songs. Attendees will be able to interact with the members of the Drexel community running the performance, including Nick Jushchyshyn, Program Director of Virtual Reality & Immersive Media.

“This holiday performance is a culmination of the efforts between the talented musicians in the Music program in the Department of Performing Arts and the technical experts in the Virtual Reality & Immersive Media program,” he said. “Coordinating all the musicians into the digital environment has been a much different experience than with a live performance, but I think we’ve made something really special.”

The concert will feature excerpts from Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite and other classic holiday-themed jazz songs. It will be livestreamed on December 3 at 7pm ET through Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design YouTube channel. Those interested in attending can sign up here or find out more about the Jazz Orchestra on Drexel’s website.