Spotlight On: Artists Collective’s Youth Jazz Orchestra

NeighborhoodStudiosIconThis week in Neighborhood Studios, we take a turn towards the music of Artists Collective’s Youth Jazz Orchestra.  Artists Collective joins Neighborhood Studios for its eighth summer in a row. For over four weeks now, twenty apprentices have banded together, instruments in hand, to prepare and rehearse for their showcase performance, Sweet Harlem Suite. René McLean serves as the Master Teaching Artist on top of his duties as artist-in-residence, multi-instrumentalist and composer, and he kindly paused for at least a measure or two to write a few notes about the program.

What are the goals for your studio this summer?

NS Youth Jazz Orchestra T-Shirt_Draft 2Artists Collective strives to develop student’s musicianship, sight-reading skills, work ethic and level of professionalism as well as enhance their knowledge of the historical traditions of African and African American music.  Apprentices grow their improvisational skills and harmonic knowledge while working within the context of an ensemble.  All the afore mentioned skills are in preparation to perform the music of this year’s production of Sweet Harlem Suite, music of the Harlem Renaissance.

 What’s an average day like at your studio?

Following morning attendance, students break into small groups for sectional rehearsals and one-on-one instrumental instruction.  Later in the morning, the group comes back together for an hour of history with lecture, music and visual materials. After lunch, apprentices are in the big band rehearsal, practicing their repertoire for the final performance.

D72_7021What about working with students in the Greater Hartford region inspires you?

The apprentices are extremely gifted and talented young people with great potential.

How do you see the exploration of an artistic discipline as well as career skills impacting the way these students might look towards the future?

What the students are exposed to and experience at the Artists Collective helps to shape their knowledge base, and skills, which they will take into different aspects of their life and future careers.  They know how to work individually and within a collective.

Thank you to René for sharing his insights on Artists Collective’s Youth Jazz Orchestra.  To hear the music of these young musicians come to the Neighborhood Studios showcase event Sweet Harlem Suit on July 31 at 6:30 pm at Artists Collective, 1200 Albany Avenue, Hartford.  Admission is free.  For more information, visit