Music Arts blog

All Girl Big Band

20 Apr 2016
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It’s exciting to hear there’s a new big band in town. We already have vibrant community big bands like The Garden City Big Band, Sideline Swing, as well as the Symposium Ensemble that forms for larger events and festival, but it’s great to welcome another big band into the mix. What sets this ensemble apart from the rest is that it’s made up entirely of women.

I asked Kate Taylor, co-founder of the band why she had created an All Girls Big Band?

“I was chatting with Lana Law (sax player and the other co-founder) one day and

and the topic came up about Big Bands containing only women. We looked at each other and said “Could we do this in such a small city?” So we reeled off the names. And we found that we could, so we did!”

A quick google search shows a proud tradition of all-female bands dating back decades to their heyday during WW2 when swing/dance bands were in huge demand and many male players were unavailable.

In Christchurch, jazz education remains strong, and the 2015 Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra had a 50:50 male/female ratio. An indication the All Girls Big Band shouldn’t have to worry about recruitment in the future.

Players include current tutors of Ara Music Arts, graduates of the jazz programme, and both secondary school students and teachers.

Rehearsals are being held at Ara Music Arts, and the band has just had their first gig at The Court Theatre and have their next gig on May 20th as part of the After Work Series. The main goal is to present a Natalie Cole tribute at a festival in the near future. 

Ara celebrates - 25 years

19 Apr 2016
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In 2011 Ara Music Arts was due to celebrate its 20th birthday. As for many 20 year olds a party was in order with live music and lots of catch-ups with old friends and family.

February 22nd rolled around (excuse the pun) and Mother Nature had other plans for us. Over the next few years the school worked through building changes and continuous rumbles only to grow in strength and determination of bringing live music back to the central city.

2016 brings the 25th anniversary of Ara Music Arts and the celebrations have already begun.

In conjunction with The Cavell Leitch International Jazz and Blues festival Ara Music arts will kick off the festival with a gala concert held at the beautifully restored Theatre Royal on May 25th at 730pm.

Celebrating 25 years of Jazz education in Christchurch this concert brings together a stunning array of graduates, staff and current students in what promises to be a night of celebration not to be missed.

Founded in 1991,and formally known as the Jazz school, Ara Music Arts has played a major part in the musical life of the city, through its training of many musicians, and performances at its facilities in High Street.

With alumni scattered around the globe, coming together for this special performance will be well known graduates now firmly established in Australia – Gerard Masters, Brett Hirst, Dan Kennedy, Susan De Jong and Oakley Grenell. Founding tutors Doug Caldwell, Bob Heinz, Ted Meager and Tom Rainey will perform, along with current students.

Other contributors include Gwyn Reynolds, Scott Taitoko, Andy Genge, Johnny Lawrence, Cam Pearce, Darren Pickering, Harry Harrison, Michael Story, and singers Kate Taylor, Anna Whitaker, Jennine Bailey and Juliet Reynolds Midgley.

Special performances by Oval Office, Departure Lounge, LA Mitchell and the Nativa Band, and Muklisa featuring Tim Sellars, Glenn Wagstaff, Tamara Smith and Tyson smith will round out to what promises to be a unique and special evening.

Events will be held throughout the year with performances in conjunction with The Big Band festival in October.

Jazz school has been a second home to many of the performers around Christchurch. It will be honour to celebrate this fine establishment and the education, top quality performers, arrangers and singer/songwriters it continues to deliver.