Wesleyan grad makes showing at jazz institute

Recent West Virginia Wesleyan College music graduate and percussionist Kyle Andrews of Ranson has been selected to attend the prestigious Ravinia Steans Institute for Jazz Studies.

The event, which takes place at the Ravinia Steans summer arts festival near Chicago, Ill., is by invitation only and features some of the most talented up-and-coming musicians in the world.

Andrews’ invitation to the event, which ran June 8 through 16, occurred mere hours before the festival was due to start. Andrews’ former instructor, Dr. James Moore, explains the circumstances surrounding Andrews’ last-minute selection.

“I received a phone call from Dr. Nathan Davis, who is one of four faculty at the institute,” Moore said. “Nathan said that the drummer who was chosen for the institute backed out unexpectedly, and they were scrambling to find someone,” said Moore.

Davis, who was Moore’s dissertation adviser at the University of Pittsburgh, asked Moore if he could recommend a young drummer who was up to the challenge. Moore did not hesitate in recommending Andrews.

“Kyle is a world-class player,” commented Moore. “The folks that are chosen to attend Ravinia are from some of the most prestigious college jazz programs in the country. Faculty at Ravinia were making lots of calls to find someone. “

Andrews was then contacted by Davis and Dr. David Baker, director of the program and a distinguished professor of jazz studies at Indiana University, where Andrews will be pursuing a graduate degree in jazz studies next year.

“They asked me if I would be able to come on short notice, and of course I said yes,” said Andrews. “It is a tremendous honor, and I am still in shock. I did not even meet Dr. Baker at my audition at Indiana University, so now I get to work with him before the school year even starts.”

It is likely that Andrews is the first West Virginian to ever be selected for the Ravinia jazz program.

“Kyle’s playing is on a level befitting a seasoned professional,” said Moore. “He is one of my top call drummers, so I know he will represent West Virginia Wesleyan College and the state of West Virginia exceptionally well. He has earned this.”

Andrews cites his time at the college for making all this possible.

“My professors at Wesleyan, folks like Bob Baden, Melody Meadows, Linda Sabak and Larry Parsons, really prepared me to operate as a professional musician,” he stated. Andrews also gives credit to James Moore.

“I would not have received this call had it not been for Dr. Moore’s connections. He got the call from Dr. Davis at 4:45 p.m. By 6 p.m. it was a done deal.”

But Moore gives Andrews all the praise.

“Kyle did this all himself, by being a great musician,” Moore stated. “All I had to do was drop his name when the phone rang. It is really a testament to the quality of our students that they can be recommended to participate in activities alongside folks from prestigious conservatories and music schools.”

West Virginia Wesleyan College’s music program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and awards the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and the Bachelor of Music Education Degree.

For more information at music and jazz offerings at the College, please contact Dr. James Moore at moore_j@wvwc.edu.

Information on the activities at Ravinia can be found at www.ravinia.org.