‘Music Speaks’ through Black History Month

UW-Eau Claire Jazz Studies share performances throughout February

More stories from Vicky Thao


Photo by Submitted

To celebrate Black History Month, UW-Eau Claire’s jazz studies promoted a live music performance on Monday, Feb. 15 titled “The Music Speaks.”

“The Music Speaks” performance went live on the “UWEC Jazz Studies” YouTube channel at 12 p.m.

In the jazz studies program, participants from many cultural, academic and musical backgrounds come to facilitate new learning. 

The performance featured a variety of sound, photographs and video clips expressing Black people’s struggle for freedom in America. 

“Music is the one language when spoken, is understood by all, regardless of your upbringing or culture,” Robert Baca, professor of trumpet and director of Jazz Studies, said.

Baca said one can express their innermost feelings of Black history through jazz.

Ashleigh Madsen, a first-year instrumental music education student, said being a part of jazz performances is a creative element that shows the different tunes that an instrument can play.

“Music brings people together, that is what jazz did for me,” Madsen said. “There were three performances and each of them had their own interpretation.”

Madsen played the trumpet for both Jazz I and Jazz II performances and said she enjoyed being a part of something that could impact people. 

Program pieces performed in the video include:

  • 40 Acres and a Burro – Arturo O’Farrill -Jazz II
  • Resolution – John Coltrane – Leighton Tuenge 
  • Louis Armstrong- In Memoriam – David Baker – Jazz I

Megan Gosian, a second-year duo certificate elementary and special education program student, joined Jazz III this semester and said she was happy to see her peers perform. 

“I really admire that they put in explanations before each piece was performed,” Gosian said. “I was really engaged in the history of each photo, thanks to the slides.”

Michael Thomas, student services coordinator at the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said to view every emotion in the photos, be attentive to the beats and reflect on each origin will help people appreciate each piece individually.  

Understanding the history behind the civil rights movement, comes out from these performances,” Thomas said. “Let’s be able to move forward with this music, despite all of these barriers.”

Jazz is America’s only original art form whose initiative development was created by African Americans, according to jazz studies. 

UW-Eau Claire offers jazz auditions to all students of all levels, and individuals can try out for one of the four jazz ensembles here.

Jazz studies regularly hosts jazz series events, which involve clinics and masterclasses. 

The University Jazz Series opened jam sessions every Monday night located and sponsored by The Lakely Eatery in downtown Eau Claire. 

For more information on jazz studies and being a part of a jazz program, click here, and for more information on Black History Month events, you can visit this website.

Thao can be reached at [email protected]