MOUNT VERNON – Trumpet player Gregg Mendel, 2015 winner of the Vaughn Wiester Music Scholarship, will be featured at the sixth annual scholarship benefit concert by Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra April 16 in the Knox County Memorial Theater. Admission to the 7:30 p.m. concert is free to the public on a first-come basis until the auditorium’s capacity is reached.
Mount Vernon native Vaughn Wiester brings his 21-piece ensemble to his hometown for what has become one of the most anticipated annual concert dates in the Memorial Theater. The Community Concerts Association of Knox County and the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County are once again co-sponsoring the benefit concert.
2014 Scholarship winner Rachel Aust performing with Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra - photo submitted
The Vaughn Wiester Music Scholarship will be awarded for the sixth 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. Last year’s honoree Gregg Mendel excelled as a musician in Mount Vernon High School ensembles and continues to perform as a first-year pre-med student at Cedarville College. He will perform both as a soloist and sitting in with The Famous Jazz Orchestra at this year’s benefit concert. As a high school musician Mendel won the Kenyon College Young Musicians competition and was the featured youth soloist with the Knox County Symphony.
Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra is made up of 21 of central Ohio’s finest musicians who have come together every Monday evening on a semi-informal basis since 1997. They share their love of jazz playing their favorite big band charts. For fans, this is an opportunity to hear the sounds of Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, and other great bands. Occasionally there are guest instrumental or vocal artists, or guest arrangers conducting their own arrangements. Many nationally known arrangers have been commissioned to write for the Famous Jazz Orchestra, including Bill Holman, Herb Harrison, Slide Hampton, Lennie Niehaus, Bill Dobbins, Paul Ferguson and Al Kiger.
Members of the orchestra have played with orchestras of Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, Woody Herman, Mel Lewis, Tommy Dorsey, Ralph Marterie, and Buddy Rich, as well as Columbus bands including Al Waslohn, Doc Everhart, Bruno Masdea, Chuck Selby, Rick Brunetto, and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Many members have been on local university jazz faculties.
While still a student, Wiester 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.
Information concerning preferred patron seating at the benefit concert, and corporate sponsorships for the scholarship fund can be obtained by calling the Community Foundation during business hours at (740) 392-3270, or by email at [email protected]