ARC’s vocal jazz ensemble’s upcoming performance is the last for semester

The performance also marks the end of an era for program’s director


Art Lapierre sits at his piano after the ensemble’s rehearsal May 3. (Photo by Shy Bell)

American River College’s vocal jazz ensemble will perform its last show of the semester on May 10 at ARC’s theater. Not only is this the last show this semester, but it is also the last official show for the program’s director, Art Lapierre. 

Lapierre has been the program director for 27 years and will leave behind what some see as a reputable legacy.

“It’s time to retire. It’s time for the young people to come out and do a new thing,” Lapierre said.

Lapierre said that although he enjoys what he is doing and doesn’t feel burnt out, he wants to move on to ‘a new frontier.’ 

“[My career] has been extremely rewarding. We’ve been through a lot of changes since I [started] here,” Lapierre said. “But it was a lot of fun for me to make music and educate young people at ARC.”  

Valerie Simonson and Caroline McCaskey, two members of the ensemble, had words of praise for their departing director. 

“One thing he regularly says is that his art—no pun intended—is teaching, not even music necessarily. I think that’s so true,” Simonson said.

According to Simonson and McCaskey, Lapierre would push students to be the best they could be, and it was refreshing to be held to that level of excellence. 

“I feel like he brings a passion and integrity to what he does in the classroom,” McCaskey said. 

Simonson and McCaskey said this last performance marks the end of an era. 

“It’s kind of surreal. I hope I don’t cry. Because once I start, I don’t stop,” Simonson said. 

Lapierre said members of the program take pride in being consistently considered one of the best in the country. 

“It just says that, at a community college, we are able to maintain a high standard year after year. Actually, decade after decade,” Lapierre said. “And I think that says a lot about the students, and the music department at ARC and their commitment to consistent excellence.” 

Due to its national and international recognition, the program has had the opportunity to premiere performances in many cities across the country. 

“We’ve performed in Toronto, New York, Washington D.C. and several times in Chicago… to be recognized by these associations says a great deal about the quality of students we have at ARC,” Lapierre said. 

In regard to the upcoming performance, “New Day,” Lapierre said that he is looking forward to the conce 

“I’m a little excited and apprehensive. It is my last time at ARC,” Lapierre said.

Simonson and McCaskey said they are also excited about the performance.

“I’m feeling like I’ve learned a lot here, and I’m proud to show the work that we’ve done,” McCaskey said.

The concert will include both the Vocal Jazz II class and the Advanced Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Tickets are available online or at the door for $15. The program will also be selling its CDs including “The World Keeps You Waiting,” which won a DownBeat student music award.

The ensemble will also be performing two unofficial shows on May 13 at Twin Lotus Thai restaurant at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The address is: 8345 Folsom Blvd #119.