VCU Jazz to perform at the Nelson Mandela Memorial Service in Washington, D.C.

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VCU Jazz will perform at the Nelson Mandela Memorial Service on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

VCU’s joint project with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, "A Jazz Bridge to Greater Understanding,” co-sponsored by the VCU Global Education Office, the VCU School of the Arts and the VCU Department of Music, is a long-standing international collaboration among students at VCU and UKZN, leading to the musical contribution this week.

Personnel in the VCU Alumni Jazz Quartet will be three VCU Music alumni and its jazz director: Brendan Schnabel, saxophone (VCU Africa Combo alumnus); Victor Haskins, trumpet (VCU Africa Combo alumnus); Antonio García, trombone (VCU faculty, co-leading the VCU/UKZN jazz partnership) and Reggie Pace, bass trombone (VCU alumnus).

“VCU Jazz is honored to contribute to our country's formal celebration of Nelson Mandela's life,” said Antonio Garcia, director of jazz studies at VCU. “We are pleased to represent VCUarts, VCU Music, the university itself and its global initiatives. And we are most grateful for the friendships we share with our South African friends here, in Durban and beyond.”

This friendship is highlighted by the student exchange that has taken place over the past two years. During summer 2012, six VCU students travelled to UKZN in the initial component of the exchange. Then, in March 2013, students from UKZN visited VCU in the subsequent segment. The exchange program culminated in the VCU/UKZN “Leap of Faith” CD, which was released in September.

“This opportunity to help our students connect with their counterparts around the world is an important way of preparing them for success in a 21st-century global environment,” said McKenna Brown, Ph.D., executive director of the Global Education Office at VCU.

Musical selections for the memorial service will include: “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “That We Might Walk Free” and “Sobukwe.” The first tune will be a somber "South" New Orleans-style rendition, the second will be an upbeat selection composed by García in celebration of Mandela's life and the third is a South African anthem representing the struggle against apartheid.

VCU's participation will likely be during the musical prelude hour between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The 11 a.m. service is currently scheduled to be streamed at Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to lead the list of dignitaries attending.