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Butler natives featured in SRU jazz concert

Students of the Jazz Ensemble at Slippery Rock University will get front row seats to a learning experience led by musicians who got their start in Butler County.

The concert — Jazz Ensemble Featuring Butler Natives — will be held Thursday, Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at Swope Recital Hall. It is an inspiring experience built on a day of instruction from professional musicians, said Jason Kush, professor of music, and it’s a concert not to be missed.

According to Kush, about 18 students will spend time with saxophonist Matt Blostein and drummer Justin Chesarek, both Butler Area High School graduates who are now in the music world.

“Both are very prominent (musicians),” Kush said. “(Chesarek) had connections to the university too, so we were looking to bring him back. (Blostein) was a child prodigy, everyone in the music scene knew him. He came to campus to study with former professor Terry Steele.”

Chesarek, an SRU graduate, now resides in Atlanta and has performed nationwide at venues such as the Atlanta Jazz Festival and in a TED Talk. He teaches music at Kennesaw State University, Emory University and Morehouse College.

Blostein has composed music for film and television and is now the director of music technology and recording arts at Cabrillo College near Santa Cruz, Calif.

Justin Chesarek

Kush said the musicians will discuss music careers and rehearse with the students before the 7:30 p.m. concert Thursday.

The show runs about an hour and fifteen minutes and will feature jazz and swing pieces familiar to most listeners.

“It’s toe-tapping music everyone can listen to,” Kush said. “People say jazz is America’s only true art form. It’s an enjoyable concert.”

Matt Blostein

Chesarek and Blostein will have a chance to wow audiences with their instruments at various points in the concert, he said.

“It’s a great thing for their families,” Kush said of the Butler-born musicians. “Their families don’t get to see them perform as much anymore since they’ve moved on, so they’ll probably be in the crowd.”

Ultimately, the concert is the a way to drive students toward careers in music, Kush said.

“I hope they’re inspired to reach greater heights musically and inspired by what the education in Butler County can do,” he said.


WHAT: Jazz Ensemble Featuring Butler Natives concert with saxophonist Matt Blostein and drummer Justin Chesarek.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept 22

WHERE: Swope Recital Hall on Slippery Rock University campus, 101 Central Loop, Slippery Rock.

HOW MUCH: $5. Proceeds benefit music student scholarship program

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