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VJC ENSEMBLES (@ RAVENSCROFT & MCC)
Program Information & Application Form

The Valley Jazz Cooperative first launched on the Mesa Community College campus in early 2016. By the next year, we began a second VJC at Glendale Community College. At that time, we began to go with a direction-based labelling for the groups: The East VJC (at MCC) and the West VJC (at GCC). MCC faculty Paul Brewer and Dave Schmidt (then of GCC, now retired) were instrumental in contributing to the continued growth of the VJC programs.

In March 2020, the VJC pivoted to providing instruction online, as did many schools and organizations. Following this extended break in in-person instruction, the VJC returned in December 2021, with its educational programs housed solely at the Ravenscroft facility.

 

Now, after two years of providing outstanding instruction to fantastic, young creatives in our Scottsdale home, we are delighted to expand VJC offerings by once more returning to our partnership with Mesa Community College and Paul Brewer. While it will not be called the EVJC, it will basically be a resumption of that program there, offering Saturday morning instruction at MCC's Performing Arts Center. We hope you will help us keep the VJC @ Ravenscroft going strong and grow the VJC @ MCC anew!

So there will be three programs/ensembles in 2023-24 and beyond:

VJC @ Ravenscroft (Indigo) on Tuesday evenings, directed by Russell Schmidt

VJC @ Ravenscroft (Cerulean) on Thursday evenings, directed by Russell Schmidt

VJC @ MCC (Sapphire) on Saturday mornings, directed by Paul Brewer

Please note these VJC programs/ensembles run from mid-December through mid-May each school year.

All VJC programs are offered free of charge to committed, eligible area music students (in grades 8 thru 12), following a successful placement audition. Auditions for this year's programs will take place in November and early December. Our current schedule for VJC audition days is slated to run from Tuesday, November 7th through Saturday, December 2nd. There will be (separate) audition dates at Ravenscroft and MCC during that timeframe. 

After reading the general overview of VJC @ Ravenscroft and VJC @ MCC activities below, please fill out the online application at the bottom of the page. And if you have additional questions about the program, please contact the VJC Director. Thank you.

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• Tuesdays @ 6:45-8:15 p.m. (mid-Dec. 2023 through mid-May 2024) - VJC Indigo Ensemble @ Ravenscroft

Russell Schmidt, Director

Indigo often performs music by Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Bill Holman, Quincy Jones, Thad Jones, Melba Liston, Oliver Nelson, Sammy Nestico, Maria Schneider, Billy Strayhorn, and other historically great jazz composers and arrangers. The group also performs brand new repertoire from VJC Publications and from the pen of its director. Indigo performs two or three times a season, with at least two performances in Ravenscroft Hall, as well as one performance with a nationally-prominent, featured guest artist.

We will also be re-instituting the "VJC Hang" this year. Students who care for additional instruction in jazz improvisation, jazz theory, jazz history, and similar topics are welcome to stick around an additional half-hour each Tuesday to participate in the VJC Hang. This is an optional attendance activity, not required for participation. But for those who want to more fully explore jazz beyond their ensemble experience, the VJC Hang (for Indigo members) will take place on Tuesdays @ 8:15-8:45 p.m.

• Thursdays @ 6:45-8:15 p.m. (mid-Dec. 2023 through mid-May 2024) - VJC Cerulean Ensemble @ Ravenscroft

Russell Schmidt, Director

Cerulean also performs music by Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Bill Holman, Quincy Jones, Thad Jones, Melba Liston, Oliver Nelson, Sammy Nestico, Maria Schneider, Billy Strayhorn, and other historically great jazz composers and arrangers. The group also performs brand new repertoire from VJC Publications and from the pen of its director. Like IndigoCerulean performs two or three times a season, with at least two performances in Ravenscroft Hall, as well as one performance with a nationally-prominent, featured guest artist.

The "VJC Hang" will return on Thursday nights as well this year. Students who want additional instruction in jazz improvisation, jazz theory, jazz history, and similar topics are welcome to stick around an additional half-hour each Thursday to participate in the VJC Hang. This is an optional attendance activity, not required for participation. But for those who want to more fully explore jazz beyond their ensemble experience, the VJC Hang (for Cerulean members) will take place on Thursdays @ 6:30-7:00 p.m.

• Saturdays @ 10:00-11:30 a.m. (mid-Dec. 2023 through mid-May 2024) - VJC Sapphire Ensemble @ MCC

Paul Brewer, Director

Programming for Sapphire will likely depend on the size and instrumentation of the group (as we relaunch at MCC). But Sapphire will likely perform music by the same roster of historically great jazz composers and arrangers listed above for the other ensembles, as well as repertoire from VJC Publications. Sapphire will perform two or three times a season, with at least one performance at MCC and one in Ravenscroft Hall. Sapphire will also have the opportunity to perform with a featured guest artist.

MCC will also offer a "VJC Hang" opportunity. VJCers who want additional instruction in jazz improvisation, jazz theory, jazz history, and similar topics are welcome to remain at MCC an extra half-hour after rehearsal each Saturday to participate in the VJC Hang. This is an optional attendance activity, not required for participation. But for those who want to more fully explore jazz beyond their ensemble experience, the VJC Hang (for Sapphire members) will take place on Saturdays @ 11:30 a.m.-12:00 noon.

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Final thoughts/comments...

1) Students interested in participating in VJC ensembles will need to play an audition, which will be scheduled after an online application has been completed and received. Auditions take place annually in November (and, if necessary, into early December). Audition dates and times are announced in mid-October. While students are welcome to fill out the audition form at any time in advance of an upcoming VJC season, it probably makes most sense to wait to do so until early October each year. (For instance, one's plans or availability might change, should you apply 3-4 months in advance.)

2) If a student wants to be in multiple ensembles and can consistently attend more than one large ensemble rehearsal each week, they may do so, so long as such involvement doesn’t keep some other eligible student from participating in VJC programs.

3) Regarding the online application form below, please go ahead and toggle every option you might be considering. We would rather know up front that you are free on both Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday mornings, even if you only wish to play in one group. Then in the “Additional comments” field, please clarify your actual interest. You could write something like one of the responses shown below:

I've toggled Indigo and Cerulean boxes, but would only be interested in driving to Ravenscroft on Tuesdays OR Thursdays. I am free both days after school, but I’d only like to be placed in two groups that meet on the same day.

• I've toggled both Cerulean and Sapphire, but would only be interested in being in one group, preferably the Saturday group at MCC.

 

I've toggled all three groups, but only have time to do two. Please put me in any two groups if you can.

 

I've toggled everything and hope to be placed in a pair of groups. I have listed multiple instruments and would ideally want to play saxophone in one group and guitar in another.

 

Thanks for providing information like that to help us better understand your level of interest and availability!

Apply_to_VJC_at_Ravenscroft

Interested in joining the VJC @ Ravenscroft and/or VJC @ MCC? Please fill out the application form below, confirming your interest and commitment to participate. Within 48 hours of applying, you should receive an email response, providing pertinent follow-up information.

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