Students Learn from Internationally Renowned Jazz Composer

On Monday, Nov. 13, Upper School Orchestra students had the rare opportunity to meet the composer of a song they were preparing to perform in the school’s fall orchestra concert. French conductor, composer, and guitarist Christophe Chagnard joined the students to play one of his songs, "Roma," and explain the history of the genre and the song. As an added highlight, Seattle-based jazz guitarist Greg Ruby also joined the class.

Invited to the class by Orchestra teacher Jo Nardolillo, Christophe, who resides in the Pacific Northwest, is co-founder of the Northwest Sinfonietta and was its music director until 2015. He has toured all over North America and Europe.

Christophe enlightened the students to the origins of “hot club jazz”, a genre popularized by Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Christophe gave an extensive backstory into how Reinhardt developed his unique guitar playing style. As a composer and a performer, Christophe told the students what he enjoys most about hot club jazz compared to the more prescribed structure of classical orchestral music.

"When you play in a jazz band, anything can happen at any moment," Christophe told the students. "The magic of that spontaneity is very special."

Both Christophe and Greg joined the Upper School Orchestra for a performance of "Roma" at the fall orchestra concert at the Plymouth Congregational Church, in downtown Seattle, on Tuesday, Nov. 14.