West Virginia Wesleyan College’s trumpeter Adam Bleil of Pittsburgh, PA and upright bassist Chris McGraw of Beckley, WV were chosen to attend the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Jazz Orchestra (MACJO), an initiative of the Cumberland Jazz Society, Inc. Bleil and McGraw will have the opportunity to perform on the Ronnie Wells Main Stage at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in Rockville, MD to be held February 16-19. Both musicians will also be part of the annual April performance in Cumberland, MD.
Bliel, a music performance and mathematics double major, is a sophomore at Wesleyan. He is a member of the jazz and choir ensembles, as well as the Afro Cuban ensemble. Knowing previous students who were selected for MACJO, Bleil knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.“I am most excited to work with Warren Wolf,” stated Bleil. “He is someone that I listen to a lot, and I love his playing. To meet and learn from him will be incredible.”
Bliel notes that Wesleyan faculty Dr. James Moore and Dr. Timothy DeWitt helped him to be a better musician and trumpet player.
McGraw, a music performance major, is a junior at Wesleyan. He is a member of the jazz and choir ensembles, as well as the Afro Cuban ensemble and the marching band. McGraw, like Bliel, heard of previous musicians’ stories and knew he wanted to be a part of it all. After being selected as an alternate last year, “I came into this year’s audition with something to prove,” he said.
“I am most excited to play with, listen to, and learn from other players who are better than me,” commented McGraw. “Jazz music is best learned outside the classroom.”
McGraw notes that his Wesleyan experience helped him achieve this honor.
“Not only have my professors guided me through my musical journey since freshman year, they have also helped provide connections that allow me to play music outside the classroom and build a professional career playing jazz.”
Both Bleil and McGraw are just the latest in a long line of Wesleyan students making a showing on the national stage.
“We always have a good showing with MACJO, even when the vast majority of the membership is made up of conservatory students from metropolitan jazz programs,” stated Moore. “It is a testament to what we do here and that our students can stand toe-to-toe with students in those programs. We know from experience that when students attend this event, it is often a shock to other students that musicians coming from WVWC are playing as well as they are. It turns a lot of heads, and it is a great feather in our cap as well as the state of West Virginia.”