Crimson Express performs for an annual concert

by Jessi Shelton
Published: Last Updated on

The University of Indianapolis Crimson Express hit the stage for its annual fall concert on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall.

The jazz and pop vocal ensemble, composed of 10 male and female student vocalists, performed a series of high-energy tunes that received applause from audience members.

Crimson Express is accompanied by a live band composed of professional instrumentalists and UIndy music department staff members, including music faculty adjuncts Art Reiner on the drums and Larry Powell on the trumpet, respectively; Assistant Music Professor Vu Nguyen, also on the trumpet; and Associate Music Professor Pete Schmutte on the piano.

Schmutte is additionally responsible for directing and arranging all vocal and instrumental material used by Crimson Express.

The show opened with a composition entitled “Jump, Jive and Wail,” originally performed by the Brian Setzer Orchestra, followed by “The Shadow of Your Smile,” which was first introduced in the 1965 film “The Sandpiper” and a version of “Blue Skies” arranged by Roger Emerson.

Sophomore music education major Emily Townsley, who also is a member of the ensemble, said she enjoys the fun atmosphere.

“My favorite portion of the performance was ‘Jump, Jive and Wail,’ — when we first come out — because there is so much adrenaline while [we’re] running on and everybody is screaming. It was so much fun,” she said.

Townsley sang an unaccompanied rendition of the song “Unchained Melody” and was a featured soloist in the group’s performance of “Crazy.”

Another solo was performed by Crimson Express member Chandler Appleby, who sang “My Man.” Ensemble members Ivy Bott, Joseph Jones, McKinley Mekkes and Appleby contributed solos in the classic “Seasons of Love,” a song selected from the rock musical “Rent,” produced by playwright and lyricist Jonathon Larson.

Voice performance and theatre major freshman Luke Garrigus liked the solos in the concert.

“My favorite part of the concert was ‘Seasons of Love,’ because I really love musical theatre and I think they did a good job — especially the soloists,” he said.

The classic song selection continued as the group belted out a Disney Medley that comprised “When You Wish Upon A Star” and “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes.”  “L-O-V-E,” by Nat King Cole also made the performance list.

Freshman supply chain management major Joe Leyden said he enjoyed “L-O-V-E.”

“I really appreciated the song ‘L-O-V-E’ because it was the only one that was familiar to me,” Leyden said.

To conclude the concert, Schmutte invited all alumni of the ensemble to come to the stage and sing along to a medley of the songs “Dancing in the Street,” “Oh Happy Day” and “Joyful Song.”

Freshman communication major and Crimson Express vocalist Braylen Morgan said the alumni were a cool touch in the program.

“I liked the end medley because of all the alumni coming up,” he said. “I thought it was cool because I didn’t know a lot of them.”

The performers had dedicated a great deal of hard work to the concert, according to Townsley. Preparation for the event began the first week of classes, and the entire semester was devoted to the production.

“We do this every semester, and it’s a real joy to be a part of,” she said.

The next student concert to be held in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall of the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center will be the departmental recital on Wednesday, Dec. 3, which is set to begin at 12:05 p.m.

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