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Gold Company ensemble shines at French festival

Aug. 2, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Members of Western Michigan University's Gold Company Sextet recently returned from France, where they performed as the only group from the United States at a prestigious choral festival.

YouTube of Gold Company Sextet in France
Practices, performances and off-stage candids

Sextet members performed at Polyfollia International Festival D'ete, where they also were the only vocal jazz ensemble invited. The sextet performed at the festival once before, in 2004, during the festival's inaugural year. The group did four shows July 10-14.

Members of the sextet include: Christine Ledden, a graduate student in conducting from Cincinnati; Lisa Roth, a graduate student in jazz studies from Chicago; Katie Seiler, a senior jazz studies major from Durham, N.H.; Brian Hemstock, senior jazz studies major from Sparta, Wis.; Mark Jackson, a graduate student in jazz studies from Grand Rapids, Mich.; Martez L. Rucker, a graduate student in jazz studies from Chicago.

Members of the sextet's backup band also performed at the festival. Sextet band members are: Hugh Little, a senior from Grand Rapids, Mich., piano; Sam Weber, a junior from Mattawan, Mich., bass; Evan Hyde, a junior, Grand Rapids, drums; George Merkel, a junior from Chelsea, Mich., guitar; Randall Gist, a senior from Grand Rapids, saxophone; and Keith Roelfsma, a junior from Grand Rapids, audio technician.

"We are extremely honored to have been the only ensemble from the USA and the only vocal jazz ensemble in the world invited to perform," says Dr. Stephen Zegree, the WMU Bobby McFerrin Professor of Jazz and Gold Company director. "Our students represented Western Michigan University and the School of Music with excellence and professionalism. They received standing ovations and encores at all of their performances and were treated like rock stars, signing autographs wherever they went."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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