University of Toledo Music Department adds two new community ensembles

The University of Toledo Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Children’s Choir of Northwest Ohio will be joining the UT community ensembles to allow grade schools and high schools the opportunity to pursue the musical arts at UT.


Ben Wolkins, an adjunct jazz trumpet professor at UT, will direct the newly formed UT Youth Jazz Orchestra during its weekly practice sessions leading up to its first performance April 18 at 7 p.m. in the Recital Hall.


There are 17 participants in the jazz orchestra from Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan area high schools such as Whitmer, Rossford and Napoleon.


“The idea of the youth jazz orchestra was for the high school students to be more creative, spontaneous and free with their music,” Wolkins said. “The ultimate goal of the orchestra is for the students to have fun; if they are not having fun, then what is the point?”


He wants the band members to be less judgmental about themselves so they can be better people and better musicians, said Wolkins.


He hopes this will lead to more cohesion between students, allowing them to perform well in ensembles and in improvisation.


Lisa Alleman, founder and current director of the Children’s Choir of Northwest Ohio, will retire this spring, according to the Children’s Choir website.


Following her retirement, the Children’s Choir will merge under the UT Community Music Programs.


According to its website, the mission of the Children's Choir is to provide an enriching experience for children who have a talent and interest and desire to sing and the opportunity to sing in a children’s choir.


The beginners choir is open to children in grades 3-10, with subsequent training available to continue developing their skills.


There is also training for children in grades 3-5 and subsequent choir to continue developing their skills, according to the Children’s Choir website.


The choir’s final concert before merging with UT is April 22 at 4 p.m. at the Maumee Center for the Performing Arts.


The Children’s Choir has performed with the Toledo Symphony, Kenny Rogers and the Masterworks Chorale, according to the Children’s Choir website.


“We also have tremendously talented jazz faculty and a solid program in which community ensembles can flourish, our Community Music Program. So, we felt this was great fit for us,” Jason Stumbo, chair of the UT Department of Music and director of bands, said. “We’re excited to bring this jazz performance opportunity to the youth in our community.”



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