Jazz Ensembles

Ensemble activities are housed under the course Music Professional Development.

The auditions are open to all University of Adelaide students, however priority for positions is given to enrolled Jazz Performance students - please see information below for how to audition.

  • Adelaide Connection (choir)

    Director: Julian Ferraretto
    The Adelaide Connection is the Elder Conservatorium's premier Jazz Choir and has been one of Australia's most prestigious vocal groups since its inception in the 1980's.

    The group was founded by the original director John McKenzie and was named by Don Burrows, with whom the choir have performed and recorded.

    The group consists of between 15 and 18 students and has a mixture of soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices. The Connection have built a repertoire of harmonically sophisticated vocal music, both a cappella and accompanied. The majority of the vocal arrangements focus on close part harmony and complex jazz rhythms and sight reading is a strong focus for this ensemble. To strengthen the students' knowledge of jazz history, chosen repertoire includes music from early jazz choir arrangers such as Gene Puerling to current arrangers such as Darmon Meader and Kerry Marsh.

    Performance opportunities are also an important focus for the Adelaide Connection. High profile concerts such as the Elder Hall Lunch Hour Concert Series are undertaken each year and these performances provide invaluable experience for the students. Performance opportunities also provide the students with a goal and deadline, both important skills to learn for any aspiring musician.

  • Big Band

    Director: Dusty Cox
    Under the long time direction of Hal Hall and now Dusty Cox, the Big Band has showcased a broad range of material from the traditions of Basie and Ellington to contemporary music. The ensemble has worked with many ‘jazz giants’, including James Morrison, Lee Konitz, Errol Buddle, Don Burrows and many others. It has appeared at the Manley Jazz Festival three times; in 1995 it featured at the Monsalvat Jazz Festival, and in 2002 performed at the prestigious Wangaratta Jazz Festival. The Big Band has also toured extensively throughout South Australia and in 1994 it produced a CD, Live at the Walker’s Arms and completed a studio recording in 2008. 

    In 2006 under the direction of Dusty Cox, the big band featured in the Evening Concert Series with world renowned saxophonist and composer Bob Mintzer and his original compositions, with trumpeter John Hoffman and vocalist Michelle Nicole in 2007 and trumpeter Ray Vega in 2008, performing classic Latin jazz compositions and arrangements by Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Santos, Gordon Goodwin and others.  Ray Vega returned in 2009 and the band once again performed with Ray as the guest soloist. The Jazz Orchestra has received an award from DownBeat (international jazz) magazine for ‘Outstanding College Performance’ for 2009 in their ‘32nd Annual Student Music Awards’ winning over entrants submitting from all over the world.  The Elder Conservatorium’s Big Band is the first Australian University ensemble to receive this prestigious award

  • Latin Jazz Ensemble

    Director: Mark Ferguson
    The Latin Jazz Ensemble was formed in 2009 as the Latin Ensemble to replace three previous student ensembles; Big Band 3, the Jazz Percussion Ensemble and the Keyboard Ensemble. It is a training ensemble; a stepping stone into the prestigious Big Band 1 and it has become a student favourite over the years. In 2012 it was rebadged as the Cuban Ensemble and the repertoire now focuses on music from the Caribbean, Colombia and New Orleans.

    The instrumentation is always varied each year. In 2009 there was a four-piece horn section, a rhythm section and a five-piece percussion section. In 2011 there was a four-piece melodica section (keyboards into which you blow), a seven-piece percussion section, a six-piece horn section, two keyboards, vibraphone and rhythm section and in 2013 there was a seven-piece sax section, four-piece brass section and a rhythm section. As there is rarely any written music commercially available for the groups, director Mark Simeon Ferguson continually rearranges big band and medium-sized band charts for the group while also composing new music for the specific ensemble members. Students are also encouraged to write for the group.

    The ensemble spends a small portion of each rehearsal working through pages of rhythmic exercises which then become foundations for improvisation over simple chord progressions which are all designed to foster a ‘rhythm first' attitude amongst the students and to provide the percussion section with plenty of time to develop confidence on their new instruments.

  • Small Jazz Ensemble

    The Small Jazz Ensemble program provides professional performance experience for jazz students.

    Each student is allocated an appropriate ensemble, depending upon the year of study, program and individual performance level. Classrooms with excellent facilities are provided for each ensemble to rehearse twice a week, with supervision by experienced lecturers.

    Opportunities for performance are also provided, including several appearances at Jazz Forum each Semester in addition to various public concerts and appearances.

    Jazz students are required to attend Jazz Forum each week, providing a scheduled performance opportunity for all Small Jazz Ensembles. Both written and verbal feedback are given for each performance, providing the ensembles and performers with critical information for consideration during following rehearsals.

  • Auditioning for the Jazz Ensembles

    Auditions for these ensembles will be held during O'Week each year. Sign up for an audition using this googledoc spreadsheet - use the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet to find the correct area/instrument you are auditioning for.

    The ensembles are:
    The Adelaide Connection (vocal jazz ensemble)
    Big Band
    Latin Ensemble
    Reading and Rhythm Ensemble (soon to be renamed)

    Each ensemble rehearses for 4 hours per week for 10 weeks (in the Madley building) and will have a number of performances, dates to be advised.

    The choir rehearses Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am-1pm
    The other groups rehearse Mondays and Wednesdays 11am-1pm

    The auditions are open to all University of Adelaide students, however priority for positions is given to enrolled Jazz Performance students. We are often in need of trombonists, trumpet players and singers who identify as tenors and basses to make our ensembles function at their best. Instrumentalists with singing experience who identify as tenors and basses are especially encouraged to audition for choir!

    Large ensemble is part of the Music Professional Development course. You cannot enrol in this course until late in O'Week when the line-up for each ensemble is clarified.

    For non-Jazz Performance students, Large Ensemble is the whole subject! For Jazz Performance students, Large Ensemble is half of Music Professional Development. The other half is Small Ensemble.

    Successful non-Jazz students may be able to get status towards their degree for their work in this ensemble. You will enrol in Music Professional Development, which will be one of the following: The Adelaide Connection, Big Band, Latin Ensemble.

    Any further questions regarding these auditions should be directed to Mark Ferguson at mark.ferguson@adelaide.edu.au