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Surprise performance—student joins Schmidt onstage

December 6th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

By Alex Thatcher

LOGAN—USU music education junior Christian Saunders had no idea when he showed up to the Jon Schmidt Christmas concert Saturday night that he would end up on stage, accompanying the new-age composer in front of a sold-out crowd at the Kent Concert Hall. But halfway through the concert, Schmidt requested someone in the crowd to play a piece with him.

“I had to jab him a few times,” said Regan Saunders, Christian’s wife. “He didn’t want to go up.”

“I was nervous,” said Saunders, a pianist for the USU Jazz Ensemble. “I usually just play in front of the jazz ensemble crowd. It’s not often I get a big crowd like this.”

Saunders and a few others made their way forward as Schmidt asked if anyone could recite the jazz blues scale. Saunders said the scale depends on what is played but rattled off a few notes and Schmidt invited him up to the stage.

Unrehearsed and unplanned, Schmidt and Saunders began free-styling a fast-paced jazz piece in front of a captivated crowd.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Saunders. “When it’s unrehearsed it gives freedom.”

After ending the piece on an accent and in complete unison, Schmidt pumped his fist in excitement and gave Saunders a high five. “He was pretty excited about it,” said Saunders. “He told me I was awesome.” The crowd responded with a standing ovation.

Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson, Schmidt’s cellist accompanist, entertained the crowd with their dry humor, dancing, and popular songs including: “Love Story Meets Viva la Vida,” a rendition combining Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” with Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida.” The YouTube version has received over 1.3 million views.

Other songs included Schmidt’s “Waterfall,” “All of Me,” “North Pole Express,” and renditions of Christmas music, including “Carol of the Bells,” “Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella,” “Silent Night,” “Pachelbel’s Cannon” and the Charlie Brown theme song.

“My favorite song was ‘Love Story Meets Viva la Vida,’” said Elise Griffen, a USU math major. “It was great!”

“All of them were great,” said Sean O’Weary, an employee of the Bridgerland Applied Technology Center, which sponsored the concert. “I loved it, it was awesome!”


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