Music Arts blog

CYJO - Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra

26 Sep 2016
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The 2016 Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra, which rehearses every Monday evening at Ara Music Arts, performed it’s first concert of the season. Originally formed by Tom Rainey in 2011, it was restarted in 2015 through a collaboration between the Big Band Festival committee and Ara Music Arts.

This year the best young jazz musicians from around the city, ably led by Ara Music Arts tutor Scott Taitoko, have continued the tradition of big Band music. Of the band Scott says, “It’s been great watching all the different musicians from all the secondary schools come together, making new friendships and creating great big band sounds”.

The Personelle;

Vocals – Ella Dunbar-Wilcox – Burnside High School

Alto Sax 1 – Ryan Hall – ex-Burnside High School

Alto Sax 2 – Stacey Potter – Burnside High School

Tenor Sax 1 – Aiden McCulloch – Cashmere High School

Tenor Sax 2 – Alena LeNgoc ex–Papanui High School

Bari Sax – Mahon Moevao ex-Papanui High School

Trombone 1 – Ben Rainey ex–St Andrews College

Trombone 2 – James MacKay – ex-Nayland College

Trombone 3 – Serge Beaton – St Andrews’ College

Trombone 4 – Rebecca Harris - RangiRuru Girls’ High School

Trumpet 1 – David Petch – Burnside High School

Trumpet 2 – Angus Rainey – St Andrews’ College

Trumpet 3 - Toby Buckner – Riccarton High School

Trumpet 4 – Stephen Mosa’ati – Burnside High School

Piano – Frankie Daly – ex-Marion College

Guitar  - Matt Howes – Burnside High School

Bass – Hamish Smith – Burnside High School

Drums – Kyle Martin – Papanui High School

Drums - Karen Hu – Rangiruru Girls’ High School

The final concert of the season will be opening for the ‘James Morrison with the Symposium Jazz Orchestra’ concert. Scott again, “What an opportunity for these young musicians to play with James Morrison, an absolute jazz icon! The students are over the moon. Such a fantastic occasion to finish up a solid season”

Graduate Profile - Johnny Lawrence

19 Sep 2016
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Ara Music Arts Graduate Johnny Lawrence’s journey as a musician started with his father, a classical pianist in Christchurch. Originally a guitarist, the bass became Johnny’s primary instrument after joining his father’s band.

“I eventually fell in love with it…at first I just wanted to play guitar, but [it was] the foundational aspect - how you’re the grounding the band. I love that big bass sound sitting at the bottom of a groove.”

Johnny credits another Music Arts graduate and his High School Bass tutor, Brett Hirst, with inspiring him to audition for the program. On reflection Johnny describes the positive environment and expertise of the tutors with making the program such an enjoyable experience.

As with many Music Arts graduates, Johnny spent the next several years aboard the cruise ships, playing first with a big band, before switching to a jazz trio.“I spent way too long on the cruise ships, I think on or off for about 6 or 7 years. The Jazz trio was great though, we really took it to the future by mixing electronic and groove into the mix.”

From there he went on to Asia playing the hotel covers circuit, before moving to Canada where he focused his playing on rock and pop before returning home to NZ in 2014.

“I loved playing with musicians of so many nationalities, especially Americans. I have a big love for American music and they seem to have the spirit of that music in them. Some of them truly are on another level and a bit more aggressive about making it.”

Since returning to New Zealand Johnny has found success with R&B/Soul/Electronica heroes Electric Wire Hustle. Having recently recorded and toured with them after relocating to Wellington.

“Work hard and play as much as you can with many different people is my advice. Stay hungry and committed to the music. If you have a passion for it you have to go for it. Keep your head down and dig deep and enjoy it!”