Positively Philadelphia: 'Z' Big Band gives students opportunity to perform before graduating

Lauren Lipton
June 17, 2019 - 2:46 pm
The University of the Arts "Z" Big Band has been recognized as one of the best collegiate ensembles in the nation.

Lauren Lipton/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Students in Philadelphia get a chance to perform before they graduate and do it for real.   

The University of the Arts' "Z" Big Band has been recognized as one of the best collegiate ensembles in the nation.  

"The band is basically the top students in the music department at the University of the Arts," explained music education professor Matt Gallagher.

Gallagher is the director of the "Z" Big Band, which gives students a chance to professionally perform at many events that go on all year. 

Scott Blanke is a junior and plays trombone and violin.

"It's been one of the greatest experiences that I have had. It's really been a treat," Blanke said. 

Melanie Ashe is a junior vocal student. 

"It was really awesome. The vocalists don't usually get to work with the "Z" Band, so it's an incredible experience because they are all so talented," Ashe said. 

And Gallagher has some advice that is helpful for many professions, not just music.

"I try to give these guys an experience that is encompassing what it means to be a 20th century musician, someone that can do everything. You can't specialize anymore in one area of music. It's gotta be everything under the sun if you want to have a career," he said. 

And these musical students can't say enough about Philadelphia.  

"I love Philly, it's my favorite place," Blanke said. 

"Go Birds!" Ashe said.