Gatsby's Gala is Back and Bigger Than Ever!
Eau Claire, WIS—The Chippewa Valley’s can’t-miss event of the season comes roaring back Nov. 8 with arenewed focus on celebrating musicians with local roots and supporting excellence in jazz education.
Gatsby’s Gala, the 1920s-themed party that transforms the third floor of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Davies Center into a wild musical bash, serves as a fundraiser for the Eau Claire Jazz Festival (ECJF) and UW-EauClaire’s Jazz Studies program. The annual gala, which features music, dancing, and charity gaming—as well asguests decked out in their finest Roaring 20s costumes—is back for its sixth installment Friday, Nov. 8 at 7:00p.m.
“This year’s gala is a chance for us to focus on musicians with ties to the Chippewa Valley and on the tremendouseducational value the gala helps make possible,” said Bob Baca, the Margaret and Jack O’Farrell Director of Jazzat UW-Eau Claire and the artistic director for Eau Claire Jazz, Inc. “Everyone who buys a ticket for Gatsby’s Gala isboth investing in an unforgettable evening of entertainment and in the future of music education for this region.”
After a massively-popular debut in 2014, Gatsby’s Gala has become a fixture on the Chippewa Valley’s calendarof events and is put on by Eau Claire Jazz, Inc. (ECJI), which formed in 2008 to support the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Studies program. ECJI Executive Director Quentin Volk says the organization’s ability to contribute funds toward anew UWEC Jazz Studies scholarship and to provide annual support for the ECJF is increasingly supported by the Gala.
“Gatsby’s Gala isn’t just the best party of the year: proceeds from the event support student scholarships andhelp operate the annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival, now in its 54th year,” Volk said. “Eau Claire Jazz, Inc. is all about raising funds to support jazz education, expanding opportunities for UWEC Jazz Studies students to get real-world performance experience, and fostering jazz appreciation in the community. Gatsby’s Gala epitomizes our commitment to this mission.”
This year’s gala will feature UW-Eau Claire’s Jazz I and Jazz II Ensembles, joined by returning guest artists KathrynRhutassel, Sue Orfield, Shannon Kaeding, and Joel Pace. Rhutasel, a UW-Eau Claire student in the College of Education and Human Sciences, will be the featured vocalist with Jazz I under the direction of Baca. Orfield, who calls the Chippewa Valley home and is lead saxophonist and composer for The Sue Orfield Band, returns foranother turn as a guest artist at Gatsby’s Gala. Kaeding, a Fall Creek native, is known for her stunning jazz vocalsalso returns and has a new album coming in 2020. Pace, known for being the leader of the soul/funk band IrieSol and his day job as a UW-Eau Claire professor of English, will also join the Gala as a featured vocalist.
New to Gatsby’s Gala this year are The Torch Sisters and Michael Andrew. The Torch Sisters, an Eau Claire-basedperforming circus troupe, will provide entertainment as the “Absinthe Ladies” and enchant the crowd with lucidmovement, burlesque shadow-play, and gravity-defying strength in their aerial hoop. Andrew is a 1987 graduateof UW-Eau Claire and a Sinatra-esque crooner who has headlined Merv Griffin’s Coconut Club at the BeverlyHilton, the world-renowned Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, and starred as the titular character in the musical “The Nutty Professor” directed by Jerry Lewis. Andrew is a frequent guest artist of majorU.S. symphony pops orchestras is making his Gatsby’s Gala debut, but will also return to Eau Claire Dec. 6 before headlining the Desert Symphony’s “Michael Andrew Holiday Spectacular” in Palm Desert, CA.
Bre DeNure, student Festival Director for the 2020 Eau Claire Jazz Festival, said community support throughGatsby’s Gala helps UW-Eau Claire jazz students participate in incredible performance opportunities and helpengage the next generation of jazz musicians.“Having had the chance to play the gala as a member of a jazz ensemble and to help facilitate the incredibleeducation jazz students get through participating in the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, I’ve seen first-hand the positiveimpact community support for Gatsby’s Gala has,” said DeNure, a fourth-year student at UW-Eau Claire majoringin Organizational Communication and minoring in Music. “This year’s gala promises to be an incredible eveningwith an even bigger long-term impact!”