Q&A: Catching up with Badinage

Neal Allsup

By Emily Fehrman
Social Media Editor

Hutchinson Community Colleges jazz group Badinage is a group of students lead by director Neal Allsup, the director of choral activities at HutchCC. After sitting down with him and a couple students to see what the Badinage is all about here’s what was found.

Neal Allsup

EF: How long have you been a jazz instructor?

NA: This is my 31st year.

EF: What kind of awards?

NA: The Downbeat Award is the biggest one yet. We have some pretty impressive credentials. Opened for Tyranny Sutton, for a lot of Grammy winners, like New York Voices, Manhattan Transfer, Take Six.

EF: What do they go through at these festivals?

NA: It’s like a mega classroom. I require them to go to workshops and classes. Getting instruction from professionals, Grammy winners and Grammy nominees. You could never have that type of intensity in a classroom. It gives confirmation that what they’re doing is awesome and at an extremely high level.

EF: What is the largest place you have performed?

NA: Carnegie Hall seven times, or maybe eight, I can’t remember anymore. Eight State of Kansas Music Conventions. These are things you have to submit audition tapes to. We have submitted stuff to the Jazz Entertainment Network conference, JEN.

EF: What kind of performances do you guys have this school year?

NA: Three or four each semester just here in Hutchinson alone. We’re singing with the Hutch Symphony in December. There’s no telling how many performances we’ll have because we get invitations all the time. However, we have too many limitations to do all of them. Limitations like travel funds and time.

EF: How hard is it to do this?

NA: This is the most challenging music; as a singing musician they will perform in their lives. Most of our “heroes” on the radio could never sing this stuff. Doesn’t mean that it’s better, it just means that stuff is basic, and this certainly isn’t. I believe that every music, no matter what, it’s about where it is serves it purpose to express what it means to be human.

EF: If you could say anything to those out there thinking about joining the group, what would it be?

NA: It would be a wonderful challenge. They aren’t going to have muscles that are sore, but it works their brain. It will work their character. Expect that, if you don’t dig that? It probably will be a chore to you. If you really dig a challenge and you’re not a quitter, that you have substance within you that says “I will persevere” then that’s a place for you.

Sara Schlicklau, Pretty Prairie Sophomore

EF: How long have you been in it?

SS: This sophomore year.

EF: How long have you been singing?

SS: Since I was little bitty, first time I remember performing was in 4th grade.

EF: How did you join?

SS: Emailed Neal for about a year, saw the group perform and decided I had to be apart of the group.

EF: How would you get the word out you guys exist?

SS: Have more of a social media presence.

Bailey Graber, Pretty Prairie Sophomore

EF: How long have you been in it?

SS: This is my second year.

EF: How long have you been singing?

SS: I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I grew up singing with my parents in church and fell in love with it.

EF: How did you join?

SS: I first heard about the jazz groups because my older brother was a part of it. I knew it was something I wanted to do after hearing them the first time. I contacted Neal and set up a time to meet with him and have an audition of sorts.

EF: How would you get the word out you guys exist?

SS: We try to hang up posters around school and places in Hutch to get the word out. It’s sad how many people, on campus even, haven’t heard of us, especially considering all the accomplishments these jazz groups have made through the years.

EF: How many times a week do you guys meet? How long?

SS: We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour and a half, which really isn’t a ton of time together, so we do a lot of practicing on our own outside of class time.

EF: How many performances this year?

SS: We have a few concerts that we do in the BJ Warner performance hall which are free to students if they bring their ID.   We’d love to have people come to these, and the others around the community!

EF: What do you need to do to join Badinage?

SS: To be in a jazz group, you have to first be in choir. There are choir scholarships available and so if you are in jazz you may just get a bit more money in your choir scholarship, and that counts for jazz. It’s just not separate. If there is anyone out who is interested, don’t hesitate to pursue it. It’s been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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