Centre Dimensions’ annual Mardi Gras concert is headed for the State Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Mardi Gras is a huge part of the New Orleans tradition. The music, food, parade and the celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday has a very long cultural and American history,” said Marko Marcinko, director of jazz studies at Penn State.
Centre Dimensions is a 20-piece jazz ensemble comprised of undergraduate and graduate students at Penn State. Kyrie Hartzell, assistant director of administration and development at the State Theatre, is excited that the concert will be held on their stage.
“We continue to see jazz grow in popularity at the theater. It is great to be a venue for such talented musicians. Audiences will get to enjoy some New Orleans funk right here in State College this weekend,” Hartzell said.
Mancinko said the music will be accompanied by photographs and names that touch on jazz’s long history.
“It’s important to communicate where and how this music developed — why jazz became the greatest export to the world,” Marcinko said.
Among the songs attendees can look forward to hearing are “Bourbon Street Parade,” “Blue Orleans” and “St. James Infirmary Blues.”
Mancinko feels that the energy in rehearsals has been upbeat and motivated.
“It gives the students the opportunity to play a wide variety of styles in one performance and pushes their improv abilities to a much higher level,” Mancinko said.
Nick Nutter is a tenor saxophonist in his junior year at Penn State. He successfully auditioned for Centre Dimensions in fall 2016 in the hopes of furthering his education in jazz.
Nutter said that the Mardi Gras concert is a dearly held tradition among music students.
“Each year the excitement that Mardi Gras was coming filled the School of Music and each student made sure to clear their schedules for that night. It was always the place to be. The excitement only grows stronger when you are a part of the band,” Nutter said.