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A Reason for the Season

The Jefferson State Choral Coalition, a community ensemble directed by the eminent Kirby Shaw, will present "Reason for the Season," a program of American jazz and pop music favorites, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, in the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Look for such songs as "Let There Be Peace on Earth," "Baby, It's Cold Outside," "Go Tell It on the Mountain," "Carol of the Bells," "Shining Star," "Higher Love" and more.

Tickets cost $10, $5 for students and children, and can be purchased at the SOU Performing Arts box office in the Theatre Arts Building, Paddington Station at 125 E. Main St., or online at jeffersonstatechoralcoalition.com.

The choir is made up of diverse members of the community — from all walks of life — who work side by side to learn and perform the many styles of music that make up the voice of American music. JSCC has proved to be more than a choir — it's a family of music lovers who've come together to share their hearts and blend their voices in harmony.

Shaw is a master of diverse musical styles and a pioneer in choral music education. As a composer and arranger, he has nearly 3,000 choral works in print to his credit and has sold millions of copies. He's been commissioned to write many pieces, including one for The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. His music is sung around the world. In 2009, Shaw was invited to New York City’s Carnegie Hall to conduct a performance of his choral music. His large catalog of music can be found at www.kirbyshaw.com.

Ward Swingle, founder of the Swingle Singers, says “Kirby's arrangements are really first class and sound eminently singable.” 

Shaw has shared his musical expertise around the U.S., Canada, Australia, China, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland and Latvia.

He holds degrees in music education and choral composition from San Jose State University and a doctorate in choral conduction from the University of Washington.  

His highly contagious manner of teaching that's infused with humor and knowledge has made a huge impact on music education. He's taught at public schools in Mt. Shasta, Calif., and at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., where he founded and directed the innovated College of the Siskiyous Vocal Jazz Ensemble. He's pioneered similar ensembles at Colorado State University and the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

Shaw also has a passion for singing scat — improvised syllables that sound and phrase like musical instruments. He's scatted along with such notables as Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau and Jon Hendricks, as well as Mark Murphy, Greta Matassa and Chris Calloway, and he's a member of Just 4 Kicks, an a cappella quartet specializing in jazz.

Kirby Shaw, director of the Jefferson State Choral Coalition, is a prolific composer, seasoned singer and an educator of music. MT file photo