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Jazzfest Moves Beyond Setbacks to Put on Annual Concert

Landon Reeve plays the drums during Corey Christiansen’s original song, Kaiya’s Dance, which was written for Christiansen’s daughter. Photo by Kristina Malterud

By Kristina Malterud

BEMIDJI–Guest artists Corey Christiansen and Aaron Hedenstrom joined the Bemidji State University Jazz Band, Blue Ice, on the main stage in Bangsberg Hall this Saturday for the 38th Annual JazzFest.

“We teach day in and day out and try and get across musical concepts like a normal teacher does,” said Scott Guidry, assistant professor of music and director of bands at BSU, “but a guest artist comes and plays here and all of a sudden the lights go on with these students as far as, ‘oh, that’s how it’s done,’ so guest artist interaction with the students, I think, is what I really enjoy the most.”

Cory Christiansen, assistant professor of music at Utah State University and accomplished artist and performer, joined the jazz band Saturday night for the final concert. Christiansen worked with the students for the past few weeks and was able to give them the opportunity to perform songs with him that he composed.

Aaron Hedenstrom warms up before performing at the Jazzfest concert. Photo by Kristina Malterud

A native of Wisconsin, Aaron Hedenstrom is currently earning his doctorate of music at the University of North Texas. A renowned saxophone player, he was brought in on Thursday to replace fellow saxophonist Tia Fuller who fell ill before the festival and wasn’t able to make it.

“The circumstances weren’t good,” said Hedenstrom. “But they reached out to see if I could come up from St. Paul and I was able to make it up. I glad to be here.”

Daniel Nelson, senior BSU musician, shares a bittersweet moment with Corey Christiansen in Nelson’s final JazzFest performance. By Kristina Malterud


“It’s a lot of work to be done in a short amount of time,” said Evan Johnson, student trumpet player. “We only got the songs about a month and a half ago, and a couple of our guest artists cancelled on us, so we had to get new pieces and cancel old ones that we had worked on for a long time. There’s a lot of material that we’ve only played about twice.”

Though this year’s festival has ended, student artists at the event, like Johnson, are looking forward to their next production. Some of which will be this year’s opera, Speed Dating Tonight by Michael Ching, which is a newer, comedic one-act play. The dates of the performance have not been announced, yet.

“I hope wherever I’m going to next, there will be just as much music, if not more,” said Daniel Nelson, senior musician at BSU.