Classical Jam Session Strikes Right Chord With Listeners

Mar 01, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

This weekend’s first-ever classical jam session, inside Martin Fellowship Hall at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Beach Haven, was a successful effort coordinated through the Long Beach Island Arts Council. A handful of classical string enthusiasts, piano and flute players informally gathered for an afternoon gathering that drew the support of dozens of music appreciators.

About 50 people attended, with performers ranging in age from 8 to 70. Many of those in attendance expressed the hope that the jam sessions will become regular events. Organizers Halley Feaster, Barbara Bishop and Barbara Wheeler hope and intend to plan additional gatherings in the future.

Wheeler said the Fellowship Hall was a perfect venue for the jam session – and graciously donated – allowing people to mingle, listen, play or sing, or enjoy wine and cheese.

The selections played were determined by the musicians in attendance and the music available. Gauging by the applause, listeners “were apparently very happy with what they heard,” Wheeler said.

A string quartet that included a flautist to supplement the violins played some movements of Handel’s “Water Music,” Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” and other pieces. Among the highlights were a violin soloist and a flute and string bass duo (Vicki and John Holland). A pianist played three Gershwin preludes, and one choral piece, a collection of songs from “Camelot,” got extra singers involved, Wheeler noted.

“Although the event was billed as a classical music jam session, some of the most enjoyable moments were jazz pieces, including piano and piano/upright bass renditions of ‘Summertime’ and ‘Sunny Side of the Street’,” according to Wheeler. One of Feaster’s former violin students attended with her flute and sight-read some music with Vicki Holland, including “Amazing Grace.”

Feaster’s 8-year-old cello student Kealia Smith played “Ode to Joy” and some selections from her Suzuki book. “She also played ‘Rondo a la Turca’ on the piano, which she has been studying for two years, and after hearing Michi (Feaster’s husband Michael Engesser) play some jazz piano, she flipped through one of her piano books and found some jazz pieces to play! I believe one of those pieces was ‘Rocket Ship Blues.’

“Tina Wagner, my close friend and go-to violist, brought some very interesting Swedish folk music arranged for string quartet,” Feaster added in a way only a true classical music enthusiast can. “I hope to dig into those with her more later.”  —V.F.

(Photo by: Ryan Morrill)
(Photo by: Ryan Morrill)
(Photo by: Ryan Morrill)
(Photo by: Ryan Morrill)
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