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Twenty-Five Years Later, Still Bopping Along

03/28/13
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BC bOp! at Saturday’s Sesquicenntennial concert in Symphony Hall. The group is celebrating its 25th anniversary year. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Mar. 27, 2013

Fresh from an appearance at the Boston College Sesquicentennial concert, the University’s acclaimed jazz instrumental-vocal student ensemble BC bOp! celebrates its 25th anniversary next week with a pair of Robsham Theater concerts featuring BC bOp! alumni and world-renowned trumpeter Wayne Bergeron.

Bergeron, a former member of the Maynard Ferguson Band, has played on more than 300 TV and movie soundtracks and appeared in recording projects involving performers such as Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, Harry Connick Jr., Bette Midler and Rosemary Clooney, among many others. His first solo album “You Call This a Living?” was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award.

In addition to the concerts, which will take place at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on April 6, there will be a special clinic given by Bergeron and BC bOp! on April 5 at 8 p.m. in Robsham.

Since its debut, BC bOp! has showcased its traditional and jazz contemporary repertoire at numerous campus events, and outside BC at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Walt Disney Resort in Florida and the Reno and Lionel Hampton jazz festivals. The band has performed for former Jesuit Superior General Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, and the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of former House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., and has consistently placed among the top 10 college instrumental and vocal ensembles in national competitions.

BC bOp! was a student creation, one born out of necessity, according to co-founder David Healey ’90, who is assistant director of BC Bands. When in 1987 the BC Bands program dropped stage band from its offerings, Healey explained, several students decided to form their own ensemble, inviting the top instrumentalists and theater vocalists to join.

The students also asked marching band brass assistant Sebastian Bonaiuto, who had been the stage band director, to provide musical leadership. It was Bonaiuto — now director of BC Bands — who came up with the catchy name for the new ensemble, which eventually became part of the bands program, Healey recalled.

“BC bOp! enabled students to achieve a deep sense of identity, purpose, and achievement,” said Healey. “For many of us at the time, our membership in the ensemble was our greatest commitment at Boston College. We cared deeply about each other, and we challenged each other to work diligently toward meeting our group objectives.

“The group has continued to grow and flourish under Seb’s leadership in subsequent years.”

Said Bonaiuto, “Our students, in the form of this wonderful ensemble, get to learn about jazz — the only true American art form — through the study, preparation and performance of jazz literature. The members of the ensemble create a community of student musicians who share a passion for this musical form, forge strong bonds, both artistic and social, to each other and to Boston College and do so while perpetuating the study and performance of this great music.

“While the achievements and milestones of these 25 years have served to highlight the talent and hard work of our students, the contribution that these experiences have made to the personal formation and growth of each member are the most meaningful.”

Tickets to the April 5 clinic and the 3 p.m. April 6 concert are free, but of limited availability; admission to the 8 p.m. April 6 concert is $10 for BC students, $15 for adults.