A tsunami of sound hits Knox County’s Memorial Theater Sunday, February 6, as Mount Vernon’s own Vaughn Wiester brings his Famous Jazz Orchestra home for an inaugural concert to benefit a new Community Foundation music scholarship fund established in his honor. Admission to the 2 p.m. concert is free to the public on a first-come basis until the auditorium’s capacity is reached.
Joining Wiester and his 21-piece ensemble will be featured vocalist Barbara Knight, who wowed audiences last year at a concert staged by the Community Concerts Association of Knox County, which is co-sponsoring this event with the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County.
The Vaughn Wiester Music Scholarship will be awarded for the first time this spring to an aspiring instrumentalist or vocalist who is a graduating high school senior residing in Knox County. Funds for the scholarship are being raised through the solicitation of individual patrons and corporate sponsors, and through voluntary contributions in any amount that will be invited from audience members. Patrons and corporate sponsors are guaranteed reserved, preferred seating, and will be invited to a post-concert reception for Wiester at The Alcove Restaurant in Downtown Mount Vernon.
Wiester’s performance experience began at Mount Vernon High School under the tutelage of Robert H. Bechtel. While still a student, he played and arranged for the Riley Norris Band. After a hitch as a Navy trombonist Wiester arrived in Columbus in 1968, attended The Ohio State University and joined the Dave Workman Blues Band. In 1972 he became a member of the Jazz Arts Group led by Ray Eubanks, and in 1974 he was invited to join the Woody Herman Orchestra.
After two years on the road with Herman, Wiester returned to Columbus to accept a position at the Dave Wheeler Contemporary Music Workshop and to resume his activities with the Jazz Arts Group as a bass trombonist and arranger. In 1977 he was invited to join the faculty at Capital University as part of their pioneering Jazz Studies degree program. Throughout this 17-year association, he taught courses in jazz arranging and jazz history aid directed the prize-winning Big Band Sound Big Band. In 1980 he joined the Terry Waldo Ragtime Orchestra.
Wiester’s arrangements can be heard on recordings by Woody Herman, Waldo’s Ragtime Orchestra, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and the Keith Henson Octet.
His Famous Jazz Orchestra takes it place as one of the recent “Young Blood” big bands on the Columbus scene, performing every Monday night in the Columbus Maennerchor ballroom on South High Street. Sporting a 12-piece brass section (including French horns and tuba), the orchestra’s repertoire is selected from the post-bop libraries of Woody Herman, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, and others.
Information concerning patron and corporate sponsorships for the scholarship fund, or about the concert itself, can be obtained by calling the Community Foundation during business hours at (740) 392-3270, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.