Juneau singers, musician to jazz up Friday night

Celebrated jazz pianist Barney McClure will perform with students

Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2009

The community will have a chance to see some of its finest amateur singers perform Friday night in the "Singin' in the Rain" concert presented by the Juneau Jazz and Classics.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire File
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire File

Celebrated jazz pianist Barney McClure will perform with 31 students from his cabaret workshop beginning at 8 p.m. Friday at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

Artistic Director Linda Rosenthal said she is always surprised by the caliber of local singers that sign up for the biannual workshop; some of whom she didn't know enjoyed singing.

"It's so surprising who you'll see up on stage," she said. "People will see their colleagues from work up on stage, and their friends and neighbors."

"They're going to slap their heads and say, 'My gosh, I didn't know they were so good' or, 'didn't know they did this at all,'" McClure said of what the audience can expect to see at the concert.

McClure, presently of Fairbanks, is an accomplished jazz pianist with decades of experience. He said he has accompanied numerous well-known singers and performers over the years, including Bob Hope, and works at helping bring out the best in his students during performances.

"I've learned a lot about being a good accompanist so that's what I bring to bandstand," he said.

"He's riveting," Rosenthal said. "I find that when I hear him I'm just totally immersed in what he's doing and just bowled over by his technique and musicianship. He's a total musician."

McClure said cabaret singing is sort of a modern reinvention of an old concept that was made popular in Europe prior to World War II.

"Basically what it does is allows singers to redevelop songs in their own style and to do a song and tell a story so to speak, not too unlike musical theatre but there's not text or drama or a part to play," he said.

Each of McClure's 31 workshop students chose a single song that they will perform on Friday.

"They are taking a song and they're getting into the ethos of the song, if you will, and sort of making it a major presentation of a song or of a style."

He said contemporary cabaret encompasses a whole range of music, from jazz to country and everything in between.

"We put a lot of effort into each tune," he said.

The tickets for the show cost $15 and are available at the door, Hearthside Books and the JACC. There will also be a silent auction beginning at 6:30 p.m. to benefit Juneau Jazz & Classics, which will hold it's annual festival May 15-24.

Coordinators have recently learned that the festival is the recipient of a national award from Chamber Music America. The festival was one of two recipients of a CMAacclaim Award, which recognizes organizations that have a significant cultural impact on local or regional communities. A representative from CMA will present the award at the festival in May.

The organization also recently hired Jeanne Pedersen as its executive director.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrisonat 523-2269 or e-mail eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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