Student Spotlight: Teagan Faran at Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
This post is part of a series of posts by students who are part of our 21st Century Student Internship program. As part of the paid internship program, students spend several weeks with a company that’s on the UMS season.
U-M student Tegan Faran was paired with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in Summer 2016. The group returns to Ann Arbor with pianist Chick Corea on March 31, 2018.
Left: A sunny day in NYC is well spent exploring Central Park. This was a favorite spot especially thanks to the nearby Dominican ice cream vendors. Right: Serenaded by 2 students of JALC’s WeBop Class learning about the instruments of a jazz band. All photos by Teagan Faran.
New York City is beyond famous. A museum on every corner, neighborhoods full of culture from every corner of the world, everywhere you look the Big Apple is the supreme destination for any tourist. Anyone staying in the city any longer may notice other (un)endearing traits: over-friendly rodents, the same faces camping out on the same subway stairs night after night, that very distinct aroma of over 8 million people sharing the same space. Amidst this wild jungle of life, though, an organization stands as the obvious crown jewel of NYC: Jazz at Lincoln Center. Overlooking the Central Park entrance at Columbus Circle, J@LC works to enliven an American art form, unite the people of NYC, and simply bring joy to as many as possible.
Left: fellow intern Kristina and I demonstrate the props for Essentially Ellington Festival’s social media booth. Right: Watching overhead as Wynton Marsalis directs a JLCO rehearsal.
Having only been in Manhattan for a single weekend before this summer, I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I stepped off the plane at LaGuardia. All I can say is that Manhattan truly lived up to its reputation of being a wild place to live!
I began my internship with the Education Department right as the fantastic whirlwind that is their Essentially Ellington Festival started up. The festival is the finale of the year-long program that Jazz at Lincoln Center has put together. Inspired by the idea that jazz should belong to everyone, J@LC has made numerous amateur-level jazz band scores available to schools all over the world. Schools that wish to compete in the Festival can send in a recording of their band playing some of these charts. From all these applicants, fifteen get to travel to New York to compete. The weekend is so much more than a competition, though; each day the students and teachers were immersed in the culture of jazz. Late night jam sessions, workshops with JLCO members, and a chance to perform in Frederick P. Rose Hall – these students truly got the treatment for this weekend!
Left: The majority of a successful show takes place backstage. Monitors in the back hallway track the artists on the Appel Room stage. Right: A performance in the Appel Room gives the audience two shows: musicians on stage and the city that never sleeps through the window.
It was my job to make sure that all of this happened smoothly. I was given a walkie-talkie and a brief tour of back stage before being set off into the crowd of excited students. I began by ushering a band from Utah over to their classroom for their first coaching with a JLCO member. I sat in the back of Dizzy’s watching the band rehearse and listening to Sherman Irby’s carefully thought-out critiques and encouragements. All the while, happy and nervous parents paced the back of the hall, telling me all about how hard the band had worked to prepare for the festival. The bands were also encouraged to get to know each other better throughout the weekend, and by the time the final ceremony ended, Rose Hall was filled with an obvious air of camaraderie and love.
Left: Speaking with the effervescently kind Cat Henry, VP of Concerts and Touring, about a career in arts administration. Right: I was lucky to meet Erika Floreska, former UMS employee, who now runs a community music school in Manhattan.
While all of this was happening, I was simultaneously discovering just what it took to live in Manhattan. Troubles with my housing situation led me to staying in about eight or nine different places in my seven and a half weeks in New York (forgive me, if I’ve lost track of the exact number!). I began to figure out which streets to avoid after sunset and learned how to avoid persistent cat-callers. Ever caring, however, my supervisors in the Education Department took me under their wing and helped to lessen the learning curve of Manhattan life. And this is what made my internship and this organization so incredibly noteworthy: the people behind the idea.
Left: Wherever you turn in NYC, there is ample opportunity to be a tourist. Looking back on Manhattan, the sun breaks past the World One Observatory. Right: My home for two months at Columbus Circle.
Rewind for a second, back to my very first day with J@LC. I was sat down in a conference room and given a large stack of papers – some to sign, but mostly to read. In these packets were the words written by Wynton Marsalis about this very organization. “The mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is to entertain, enrich, and expand a global community for Jazz…we believe Jazz is a metaphor for Democracy…it inspires us to face adversity with persistent optimism,” reads the organization’s mission statement online. The packet I was given included Mr. Marsalis’s expanded ideas on this topic and his guidelines for how J@LC is to be run. I heard it said at some point that he runs the office in the same way he runs a rehearsal: everyone is responsible for their own ideas and strategies, but all are working towards the common goal.
Left: Band members and parents file past for the 2016 Essentially Ellington Competition. Right: A city saturated in culture! I enjoyed walking from Columbus Circle to see shows by the American Ballet Theatre and the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center.
Manhattan is loud in a busy, noisy, smelly way, and a person begins to look for quiet wherever she can find it. Identifying your favorite patch of grass in Central Park, ducking into that French bookstore to admire the constellations on the ceiling, or grabbing a dollar ice cream scoop from the Dominican shop on the corner, these all make for great meditation. My absolute favorite place in Manhattan, however, has to be the backstage hallway leading to the Appel Room. One of J@LC’s main stages, the Appel Room sets the band up with a glass backdrop that opens to a view to Columbus Circle in all its mayhem. As the band swings, taxis stream by and tiny people scurry across the crosswalk beneath. It was here that I spent my first weekend in the Concerts and Touring department.
Acting as a musician’s assistant, I got exposed to the behind-the-scenes world of making sure all the artists had water and towels and any other necessary commodity in order to ensure their best performance. The most important part of my time with Concerts and Touring was not the quick trips to Whole Foods to buy backstage snacks or the in-office historical work, but rather the opportunity to join in this “jazz family.” Every single person I met was so immediately ready to be a close friend and an ally. Even after the show ended, I would run into musicians on the subway and be greeted by a warm hug and a smile. A few of us even ended up at one of the free Concerts in the Parks programs, determined to hear greats such as McCoy Tyner in person. As we walked to the park, we saw the clouds getting darker but pushed onward anyhow. Even as the rain began to pour down, we laughed and grooved along to the musicians on stage. Afterwards, we wrung out our jackets on the subway and laughed together about the concert.
Photo: A life changing show by Christian McBride at the famous Blue Note jazz club.
The idea of the Jazz Family came out in full form one bright, Sunday afternoon as the JLCO gathered a crowd to remember the Great Joe Temperly. A stoically happy occasion, the JLCO and students of Mr. Temperly came together to share stories and treat everyone to a New Orleans-esque jam in honor of the late tenor saxophonist. Though the room was full of strangers, this music truly united everyone present. This is what J@LC exemplifies in their work every single day.
I am beyond grateful to the UMS and to Jazz at Lincoln Center for this internship opportunity. There are so many more stories that I would love to share about my time in New York City, but I can say one thing for sure: the level of inspiration and brotherhood that I experienced this summer can be experienced every time the JLCO hits the stage. They are a truly magical ensemble and organization.
This Spring, welcome back to Ann Arbor, JLCO, we are so excited to have you here.
See the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Chick Corea on March 31, 2018.