Rat hosts local jazz musicians on campus
Article by Alexandra Saizan
For students interested in the New Orleans music scene, two lesser-known music-related events, Jazz at the Rat and Music at Midday, offer the chance to experience local and national acts without leaving Tulane’s campus.
Jazz at the Rat, a nighttime event, began in spring 2009. After an anonymous benefactor donated to Tulane’s jazz studies program, the music department began to put on concert performances in der Rathskeller in the Lavin-Bernick Center. Both local and student artists are invited to play.
“It brings professional jazz musicians to campus to play alongside students and faculty from Tulane’s Jazz Studies program,” said Trina Beck, the director of programs of Newcomb-Tulane College.
Jazz at the Rat allows students to not only learn about famous New Orleans musicians but to also learn the musicians’ techniques and get advice on their playing skills.
The concert’s first season featured Clyde Kerr, Jr., who died recently. The Jazz at the Rat director, Jesse McBride, and his students have paid homage to Kerr in recent shows. McBride said he wants his protégées to know about more than just the greats.
“At first, I wanted to make sure the students were exposed to the masters that are here in New Orleans,” McBride said. “Now, I want to introduce the ‘Next Generation’ concept to the series and the school, young players that are great but are not known by our students. It is an attempt to get the students to learn the young cats on the scene so they go out into the city and listen to each other.”
Jazz at the Rat offers an opportunity for all students, not just those studying music, to experience New Orleans music free of charge. It takes place 8 p.m. Thursday nights. “If students would like to be a part of living art, I encourage them to come and hang at The Rat with us,” McBride said.
Another music-related event, Music at Midday, offers the opportunity to listen to music against the background of the Rogers Memorial Chapel. Robert Weirich, a former member of the music department’s piano faculty, initiated the Music at Midday series. Music Department Chair Peter Hansen ran the program in the ’80s.
The idea was to put on lunchtime concerts that students could attend before 1 p.m. classes. In the beginning, it was obligatory for students taking music appreciation courses.
This concert series features musicians playing a wide range of instruments, including ones familiar to students, such as guitar and piano, as well as ones that may not be, such as medieval instruments and the harp. The musicians are not limited to New Orleans; both national and international players have taken part in this event.
“Tulane students in particular are provided a chance to explore the varied music of different types and times during their years of study, and [this] gives them the opportunity to discover the rich repertoire left to us by men of genius over the centuries, and thus enrich their personal lives well past their student days,” Weilbaecher said.
Music at Midday takes place at noon Wednesdays in the Rogers Memorial Chapel.