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First-year student creates Latin jazz music ensemble

Concordia students can expect further diversification of the college’s music community with the development of student-led Latin Jazz group, Fuego.

First year finance student and trombone player Xavier Hernandez began raising awareness for the group early this semester with the intent of expanding Concordia’s music opportunities. Currently, Fuego is comprised of several notable musicians from around campus, including saxophonists Jack Anderson and Race Hoglund and trombonists Matthew Fenton and
Tavis Juran. Xavier said he hopes to continue growing the group and expanding interest throughout the semester. He plans to set up performances for the group by February of 2018 and wants to work at integrating the group into Concordia’s music program.

“I see us being very present next year. I’m having us sign up for Cabaret, I’m going to see if we can organize an event for Dia de los Muertos,” Hernandez said. “For now, the group is unofficial, but I will be speaking with someone to see if we can make this an official organization and my plan is to have it as an official ensemble by junior year.”

Hernandez expressed gratitude towards the Concordia music department and its professors for their guidance. Conductors of Concordia’s bands Dr. Russell M. Peterson, Dr. Peter J. Haberman, and Dr. Nathaniel H. Dickey have all spoken with and advised Hernandez as he was worked to build this ensemble.

“All three have been very supportive,” Hernandez said.

Given his first-year status, Hernandez is managing the demands of forming a student band exceedingly well. While he is still working to raise awareness and official student organization status for Fuego, Hernandez is already gathering funds to buy music pieces for the group to play. Although he admitted that the obstacles associated with forming a new student group can be frustrating, Hernandez said that the group has gained significant traction among Concordia’s student body.

“As soon as I started handing out flyers and I started talking with professors, immediately I got quite a few student interests,” he explained. “Honestly, I really was surprised because there were quite a few really well-known and talented musicians from campus.”

Hernandez credits Fuego’s unique musical content with garnering such immediate interest.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people have been saying that they love the jazz and that they love the classical, but Latin jazz is a whole new color of music,” Hernandez said. “Maybe it was something that students hadn’t heard of. Or maybe, like me, they had a passion for Latin jazz before and just needed a place to continue it.”

Hernandez moved to Concordia from his hometown of Houston, Texas, and had participated in a Latin jazz group in high school. He said that Concordia’s renowned music program played a large part in his decision to attend. Through Fuego, Hernandez hopes to hold on to his enthusiasm for the genre.

In addition to opening up new and exciting opportunities, Hernandez feels that Fuego will also help Concordia’s musicians in their occupational pursuits of music. Not only would students be able to increase their music skill by playing a different genre, but they would also be able to spread this knowledge to others.

“This would be a great opportunity for people to be able to participate in a type of music that they want to teach,” Hernandez said. “I could see this helping music education people who want to move around the country and teach to a more diverse background.”

Hernandez is confident in Fuego’s eventual expansion and feels that the group will meet an ever-growing demand for diverse music opportunities on campus.

“I didn’t form this group so that it would blend in,” Hernandez said. “I wanted it to be unique and stand out from what we have already.”

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