UNI jazz band to perform in Washington

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL


The Washington Area Performing Arts and Events Center Advisory Board announces the upcoming concert: ?Generations of Jazz in Washington,? at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 22, at the performing arts center, which is located at 1111 South Avenue B, at the Washington High School, according to a press release.

This event features the University of Northern Iowa Jazz Band One, directed by Christopher Merz, a 1982 graduate of Washington High School. Merz, a professor of Music, has served as director of Jazz Studies and director of the award-winning UNI Jazz Band One at the University of Northern Iowa since 2002.

?The jazz band has won so many awards and it?s exciting to bring a Washington alumnus back,? WAPAEC advisory board member Jan Gallagher said.

The UNI Jazz Band One is considered one of the premiere college jazz bands in the USA. Merz is the son of the late Sharon Merz, who taught at Stewart Elementary School for many decades.

Gallagher has known the Merz family for years.

?When I first came to town I worked at Stewart School as a reading aide because there wasn?t a position available for my certification,? Gallagher said. ?The teacher I worked with was Sharon Merz and I loved to work with her.?

Local musician Gary McCurdy, also known as the Tubador, was the band director when Merz was in high school. McCurdy, a member of the WAPAEC Advisory Board, has organized this event in honor of the many generations of jazz musicians in Washington.

During the day the UNI Jazz band personnel will conduct a workshop for the Washington Middle School and the Washington High School jazz bands.

The middle school and the high school jazz bands will also perform at the concert in addition to the UNI Jazz Band One.

The Washington Middle School Jazz Band Is directed by Craig McClenahan and the Washington High School Jazz Band is directed by Don Hughes.

All tickets for the concert are general admission and may be purchased online at Tickets are also available at the Washington Chamber of Commerce, located at 205 W. Main Street, two weeks prior to the event, and at the Performing Arts Center box office one hour before the show.