THE UVIC VOCAL JAZZ MAINSTREAM & IMPROVISATIONAL ENSEMBLE has established a reputation for artistic excellence, stylistic flexibility and performances of original and inspiring arrangements. In addition to highly successful performances at the Powell River Vocal Summit and the Frank Demiero Jazz Fest, UVJMIE was the choral ensemble for The Best of Queen concert series with JEANS 'N CLASSICS and the VICTORIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA under Maestro Giuseppe Pietraroia. The Ensemble is well known for its fun-filled, filled-to-capacity audience engaging concerts. Our Autumn and Spring Vocal Jazz Showcases feature the Signature Studio Ensembles - the University of Victoria Studio Group, the University of Victoria Show Choir - and various Spotlight Combos including Ellavation Chorale, and the UVic Vocal Jazz Stage Orchestra. The Ensemble has opened for the internationally acclaimed vocal groups GROOVE FOR THOUGHT and THE REAL GROUP, Canadian sensation COUNTERMEASURE, and has received high praise from legends Kirby Shaw and Dave Barduhn, and from master educators Vijay Singh, Peter Taylor and Janet Warren. Among our many distinguished alumni are the superb FIFTH STREET, MIKE EDEL and TWIN KENNEDY.

The UVic Vocal Jazz Experience

Vocal Jazz Students & Alumni
Personal Experiences

Claire D., B.Mus. (M.Mus. pending) - "Vocal Jazz was really the epitome of what I hoped my university music experience would be like."
Being part of the vocal jazz ensemble was one of the most formative course experiences of my music degree. On a musical level, rehearsing and performing in both combos and large ensembles grew my repertoire of jazz as well as my ability to sightread and actively listen to my peers. On a relational level, I formed connections across disciplines and was consistently touched by Wendell’s enthusiastic commitment to the students and the music. There were few rehearsals that I was not smiling, grooving, or laughing, and to this day, I still find that I remind myself both in and out of music of Wendell’s favourite words of wisdom: “fortune favours the bold.” I am grateful for the ways our instructor exemplified that in his teaching, but also sought to bring out the leader in each of his students. Truly, Vocal Jazz was really the epitome of what I hoped my university music experience would be like: creative, diverse and engaging, and the lessons I learned and musicality I fostered have informed my own musical pursuits and teaching in a way that cannot be understated.

Clay D., B.Mus. (MUCS) - "Being part of the ensemble helped me push my boundaries as a musician, find confidence in being myself, and provided a supportive network of so many like-minded people."

Taking part in UVic Vocal Jazz will always be an experience that I cherish, and after five years with the ensemble, I can confidently say that it was instrumental to helping me grow into the person I am today. Being part of the ensemble helped me push my boundaries as a musician, find confidence in being myself, and provided a supportive network of so many like-minded people throughout the years. 

Beyond helping me grow as a person, Vocal Jazz provided me with a warm and welcoming space to forget about the stresses of student life and just sing. Every week, I’d look forward to our one or two full-group rehearsals as a time to get away from my studies and work hard on creating music that I’m passionate about. 

So many of my best memories from my degree at UVic were from my time in Vocal Jazz, from our tour to Seattle, to performing at Felicita’s, serenading couples on Valentine’s Day, performing for The Real Group, and countless moments during retreats and rehearsals that I’ll never forget. 

Tamara N., B.Mus.(Education)—"Friends dedicated to music!"
Vocal jazz was a fantastic experience. I spent many hours singing with people who became some of my closest friends. I would recommend vocal jazz to anyone who is dedicated to self improvement of their singing and likes to have fun along the way. I will miss performing with such a spectacular ensemble immensely.
Sarah T., B.Mus.—"Being a part of this close-knit group was a highlight of my time at UVic"
The UVic Vocal Jazz Ensemble is a wonderfully supportive group full of energetic, hardworking people. Even in the company of highly trained singers, I felt comfortable experimenting with my voice and feel that I grew as a singer and ensemble member as a result. I looked forward to the Monday evening rehearsal every week, even though it was at the end of my 12-hour day. Everybody was always excited to be making great music together, so the ensemble always had incredible energy both in rehearsal and in concert. 
I remember coming to a Vocal Jazz showcase in my first year at UVic and thinking how much fun it would be to be involved in the group. I had the good fortune to work with the Vocal Jazz Ensemble both as a singer and an instrumentalist, and some of my best onstage memories are from the performances. Engaging with the audience, not to mention with the people onstage, was one of the most rewarding performance experiences I've had. My combo and I became dear friends and intend to continue singing together. Being a part of this close-knit group was a highlight of my time at UVic - I will miss it!
Chris C., B.Sc. (Music and Computer Science) - "(A)n introduction to a whole new world of musical connections and some of the greatest friends I have at UVic."
As a Vikes athlete it’s often hard to find time for socializing and friendships outside of your team. UVic Vocal Jazz, for me, was an introduction to a whole new world of musical connections and some of the greatest friends I have at UVic. The group brings together so many talented people with such a variety of experiences and there is always something to learn, from every member. Wendell is a wonderful leader and is able to bring out the best in everyone and in every group. I’m forever grateful for the opportunities, friendships and inspiration that Vocal Jazz has provided me with and I hope that many can find the same. 
Rob P., B.Mus., M.Mus.—"The skills I learned during this period have proven to be invaluable in my career."
As an accompanying instrumentalist, I have performed on at least seven different occasions with the Vocal Jazz Ensemble under Wendell Clanton's direction. In short, I thorougly enjoyed my time spent with this group. I benefited greatly from working with many different vocalists in many different styles and abilities, and the skills I learned during this period have proven to be invaluable in my career. Wendell always respected my time and energy, and rehearsals (especially dress rehearsals) always operated on a high level of professionalism.

Olivia S., B.Mus.—"Great music, great people, great experience!"
Some of my fondest memories during my time at UVic came from being a part of the UVic Vocal Jazz Ensemble. I was lucky enough to be in the group for four years and we had a lot of fun! I was honoured to work with incredibly talented musicians and we worked together to put on some of the most fun and well received concerts I have ever been a part of. The diversity of music we performed and the quality of musicianship expected of us helped me grow as a musician and person.
John S., B.Sc (Chemistry for Medical Science) - "Vocal Jazz was definitely one of the highlights of my UVic experience."
Being in the sciences, Vocal Jazz was the perfect opportunity for me to spend time engaging with the arts, teamwork, creativity, and music. I enjoyed every minute of it. Vocal Jazz gave me a community to connect with and opportunities I never thought I would experience. Through vocal jazz I was able to be involved in group performances, duets, mass choirs, and be in a Queen tribute concert with the Victoria Symphony and Jeans 'n Classics. I was able to develop singing skills and became a far more confident singer. UVic Vocal Jazz was definitely one of the highlights of my UVic experience.
Matt F., Anthropology—"We love music, and we love the feeling of sharing that with those around us."
I began my post secondary education in the Faculty of Music at UVIC then decided to change my major but was looking for something to satiate my musical appetite. The prospect of an audition seemed daunting but my fear abated as soon as I stepped in the audition room of the vocal jazz ensemble. The warmth and welcoming attitude of the audition panel (comprised of senior members and director Wendell Clanton) told me this was what I was looking for.

I have had the pleasure of singing with this wonderful group for 5 years. Members have come and gone but the hard-working, fun and friendly attitude of the group remains under the caring and competent direction of Wendell. During my last years as an undergrad, Monday night rehearsals were the thing I looked forward to most all week.

I have had the pleasure of watching fresh new faces become seasoned veterans, who then offer guidance to those that were in their shoes just one year before. 
Our concerts bring something very special to the audience: Love. We love music, and we love the feeling of sharing that with those around us. That is what has made the biggest impression on me these past 5 years. People from all walks of life come together and produce something that they have good reason to be proud of: A body of work that reflects our highs, lows, and all points in-between all for the love of music.

It has been a great honor to have spent these years with such a group, it will be something I remember for the rest of my life. For those thinking about taking that first step but may be hesitating, do it! If your experience is even half of mine you will be hooked and won't ever want to let go!

Jason S., CPO, Artist Liason"It was always a treat."
I worked exclusively with the Vocal Jazz Ensemble as an audio engineer. I had the pleasure of doing the live sound for their concerts on numerous occasions. It was always a treat to work with all the singers and Wendell from a technical stand point. I was always treated with respect and courtesy. Microphones were handled with care and cables were wrapped - which made my job infinitely easier. Wendell was able to clearly communicate his technical needs, allowing me to provide the best sound for the ensemble.
Taylor C., Theatre.—"There is no UVic experience I would recommend more."
Being a part this ensemble has without a doubt been one of the greatest privileges – and certainly the greatest joy – of my entire university career. Not only do I constantly find myself blown away by the talent and commitment the individuals in this group possess, watching these artists work and play together to create something beautiful with their voices sometimes just straight-up leaves me in awe. You know that feeling you get when your brain sort of steps outside of the moment and you truly realize, “This is amazing. I can’t believe I get to be a part of this”? Yeah, I pretty much get that on a weekly basis.
Every Monday night for the past four years, I’ve finished a 12-hour day of classes with a 2 (sometimes 3) hour rehearsal and have always come out of it refreshed – as a person, as a student, and as an artist. I’ve seen this ensemble take several different forms as some members leave and others take their place, but each year one thing remains the same: these musicians always treat me with a kindness, respect, and love that never fails to brighten my day. Together, we encourage each other to push ourselves and grow in our artistry. Here, I’ve had the privilege of finding out firsthand that the art you create when every single member of the team is propelling each other forward – with everything they have – can absolutely floor you. And on top of all that, being in this ensemble has given me the opportunity to forge friendships that I look forward to carrying with me for the rest of my life. At the end of the day, if you asked me to describe the experience in a word… well, I guess I’d have to ask you for at least two: an honour.

Andrea P., B.Mus., M.Mus.—"To be part of UVic vocal jazz is truly a unique and all-encompassing experience."
Vocal Jazz provides a safe learning environment where musical and performance skills can be developed and refined. I was encouraged to work collaboratively with other members of the group in order to refine the skills I already possessed while I worked individually to open my mind so that I could embrace new challenges. I have grown so much as an artist over the past 2 years and I owe much of that to Wendell, and every dedicated member of the Vocal Jazz team. This group is made of unique individuals that use the best parts of their personalities and talents to find a place amongst each other and to contribute positively to the group as a whole. To be part of UVic Vocal Jazz is truly a unique and all-encompassing experience.

Emma G., Acting/Theatre. 2015.—"Vocal Jazz became a supportive place to have fun and make great music. I looked forward to every Monday night."
I like to think that joining Vocal Jazz was a cosmic incident of chance, or at least a great example of being in the right place at the right time.

On the weekend that my parents and I toured the UVic campus in my senior year it also happened to be the night of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble's Fall showcase. We decided to check it out, and were blown away by the Ensemble. It was an hour and a half of fantastic music, outstanding musicianship, and pure fun! Choir had been a big part of my life throughout high school, but I had no idea that it could have such soul!

Upon my arrival to UVic that following fall I was overwhelmed by the newness of everything. New city, new school, new dorm, classes, people, you name it! If it hadn't been for the eye-catching banner announcing auditions I may have missed the opportunity completely (be warned, the auditions come up quick!). I signed up in the nick of time and was overjoyed when I found out I had been accepted. It was amazing how quickly the group fused together. Under Wendell's direction we all felt safe to just let go and groove. During those first shaky months of University, Vocal Jazz became a supportive place to have fun and make great music. I looked forward to every Monday night.

I have totally enjoyed my year singing with the ensemble. Wendell puts his heart and soul into each rehearsal, and inspires us all to do the same. Whether it was chance or timing, Vocal Jazz has made all the difference in my first year at UVic.