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Story Highlights

Performance Dates and Times: Nov. 15 | 7:30 p.m.

Location: Madsen Recital Hall, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center, BYU

Price: $7

Tickets: Available in person at the BYU Ticket Office in the Harris Fine Arts Center or Marriott Center, by phone at 801-422-2981 or online at

Familiar and original tunes spanning jazz’s many subgenres will be performed by BYU Jazz Voices

Known for its complex harmonies, tight grooves, improvisation and unique combination of vocalists and instrumentalists, Jazz Voices will present a concert on Nov. 15.

 The ensemble is under the direction of Emily Merrell and includes 12 vocalists and a four-piece rhythm section.

“BYU Jazz Voices is a breath of fresh air to audiences of all kinds,” said Merrell. “There is truly something here for everyone.”

Jazz Voices seeks to provide a transformative experience for listeners as they explore traditional and modern jazz subgenres including blues, swing, bebop, Latin, funk and fusion, while staying true to their vocal jazz roots through honest and evocative storytelling and lyric interpretation.

“It is important for us to pick something of everything,” said Becca Sumsion, a second soprano in the group. “The concert includes different styles so it never feels stagnant. There’s so much more to jazz then people recognize. When you dig deep into jazz, there are all sorts of sounds and styles that are difficult, but also musically engaging.”

While many of the songs are rooted in traditional jazz, Jazz Voices will also put their innovation on display. Four of the songs are arranged by members of the group, while “On the Wind,” is a completely original composition by Merrell.

“There are not many ensembles on campus I know of who get to perform original works and arrangements created by students,” Sumsion said. “It is a really unique opportunity to work with the arranger in rehearsals and see their creations come to life.”

The ensemble works to showcase all the members of the group. Each song contains several solos to highlight the instrumentalists as equally as the vocalists.

“I think when people hear a concert about ‘jazz’ they get intimidated,” Sumsion said. “But there’s a lot that everyone can enjoy, even if they’re not familiar with jazz. All the songs at our concert may not be popular or recognizable, but they feel familiar. The concert will definitely expand your horizons.”


Writer: Amanda Shrum