On Saturday, September 23, the patio of John’s Place will be filled with the smooth sounds and syncopated rhythms of improvisational jazz. From 3 pm to 6 pm, John’s Place will be hosting their second fundraiser and awareness event, “Jazz at John’s Place.” Proceeds will benefit the Union Symphony.
The Union Symphony is a local nonprofit that offers the community a professional orchestra, as well as six educational programs for youth. These programs include the Union Symphony Youth Orchestra, Union Symphony Prelude Junior String Orchestra, Union Symphony Youth Chamber Players, Benton Heights After School Strings Program, Fred Ingold Memorial Music Festival and the Union Jazz ensemble, that serves both youth and adults.
The event on Sept. 23 will be featuring music by the Union Symphony’s professional adult Jazz ensemble. Last year, the group played as a trio. This year they are adding more sound by performing as a jazz quartet. Patrons of John’s Place will be able to enjoy improv jazz for the entire three hours, although the group will take a 20-minute break in the middle.
There will be no cover charge, but a percentage of food purchases will be donated to the Union Symphony, and a donation basket will be available to help cover the musician’s compensation. The Union Jazz ensemble is under the direction of Dennis Contreras. Contreras directs both the adult and student ensemble. According to the Union Jazz website, “Equally adept in classical, jazz, and popular/rock styles, Dennis maintains an active and diverse performance repertoire, with past engagements including the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra at Temple Square, American Musical Theatre Project, Chris Merritt, and jazz professionals in Portland, Chicago, and Charlotte.”
Kim Norwood, Executive Director of Union Symphony, said, “We are thrilled to be able to perform improvisational jazz. In part, Union Symphony does this as a service to the community to foster music appreciation and provide more live music.”
In the past, Union Symphony did not have an ensemble that was the right size to allow them to perform in smaller venues. The formation of the Union Jazz ensemble has enabled them to extend their program by allowing them to perform in smaller venues and branch out of Monroe. The Jazz ensemble gives the Symphony a way of featuring their musicians outside of an orchestral setting.
The event at John’s Place will have an upscale, casual atmosphere. According to their website, “John’s Place has 18 glycol chilled taps featuring many N.C. craft beers, an inspiring cocktail menu that is sure to excite, and an extensive wine menu that is sure to accent any of our Chef-inspired menu items.” John’s Place serves the full menu from its family dining side, Mario’s Italian Restaurant.
John’s Place is located at 2945 Matthews Weddington Road, Matthews. For those who want to prepare ahead, a look at the dinner and bar offerings can be found at www.johnsplacematthews.com. Or you can call 704-847-1560. More information about the Union Jazz ensemble and the Union Symphony is featured on their website, http://www.unionsymphony.org.