mr. chair
 

MR. CHAIR - THE MODERN CLASSICAL BAND, EST. 2016

Mr. Chair looks like a jazz quartet, sounds sometimes like a rock group, but in actuality, is contemporary classical music in the guise of a modern band. Classically-trained musicians, well versed in jazz, Mr. Chair creates a new sound using both acoustic and electric instruments.

Their compositions are long-form journeys, telling stories through sound by using and exploring the three pillars of music: melody, harmony, and rhythm. Think cinematic, orchestral, surreal, romantic, emotional, gripping, and always equal parts dissonant and consonant.  Their influences are far-reaching, from classical, blues, and rock, to soul, funk, jazz, and beyond. They perform from a library of original works, as well as their own arrangements of iconic pieces from Stravinsky to Bach.

COLLABORATION

Mr. Chair’s greatest quality is its growing list of collaborators.  The list so far includes: singers, dancers, poets, scientists, research labs, visual artists, and more.  Through collaboration with colleagues outside of the music realm, Mr. Chair discovers unordinary ways to connect with audiences. They often invite their colleagues to join them in performances, and they work to make every performance a special and unique event.

One notable collaboration is with UW-Madison Vilas Distinguished Professor of Geoscience Dr. Stephen Meyers and his tadada Scientific Lab in two performance lectures (Beginnings and The Deep Groove).  These fully integrated presentations took place in Dr. Meyers’ Geosci 100 course on the UW-Madison campus, featuring live performance, exhilarating videos, and the commissioning of new music from Mr. Chair.  The experiment continues as Mr. Chair and Stephen Meyers bring these interdisciplinary events to clubs and to universities around the world.

Equally comfortable as educators, the members of Mr. Chair have conducted masterclasses with students from middle school to college on the topics of performance, composition, style, arranging, orchestration, interpretation, and the creative process.


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Ben Ferris

Acoustic and Electric Bass

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Ben Ferris is an upright and electric bassist, composer, bandleader and educator in Madison, WI. A student of NEA Jazz Master Richard Davis, Ben received his Bachelor of Music, focus in Education, from the UW-Madison School of Music in 2013. As a leader, Ben recently released an album of original music, “Home," with the Ben Ferris Quintet. He also leads the Ben Ferris Octet, a 5-horn ensemble focusing on jazz music from across the decades. As a sideman, Ben performs with Nuggernaut, The Gabe Burdulis Band, The Darren Sterud Orchestra, The Neophonic Jazz Orchestra, Edi Rey y Su Salsera, the Jon Hoel Trio, the Big Payback and many other ensembles in a variety of genres. As an educator, Ben teaches at Winnequah Elementary School, Madison Music Makers, Madison Suzuki, Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists, private Bass students and various clinics/workshops. More information and current bookings can be found at www.bferrisbass.com

Mark Hetzler

Trombone and Electronics

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Born in Sarasota, Florida in 1968, Mark Hetzler began playing his father's trombone at the age of twelve. He went on to receive degrees in Music from Boston University and the New England Conservatory of Music. Trained as a classical musician, Mark spent 16 seasons as the trombonist of the Empire Brass Quintet, a world renown brass chamber ensemble. He was also the Principal Trombone of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops and the Florida Orchestra. Mark has concertized as a soloist and chamber player on five continents, including appearances in 15 countries and throughout the United States. He has released eleven solo recordings on the Summit record label, featuring classical works, avante-garde, modern and electro-acoustic music, and his own original compositions. His solo recordings feature collaborations with a variety of instrumental combinations, including piano, strings, percussion and brass. Active in the creation of new music, Mark has worked with composers in some of the leading new music studios around the world, commissioning music which uses interactive computer software, hardware effects processing and other experimental approaches to sound creation. He has appeared at numerous new music festivals, including the New York Electro-Acoustic Music Festival and the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the US (SEAMUS). Mark's lifelong fascination with rock and jazz styles eventually found its way into his curiosity for music technology and has led him to use his electro-acoustic skills in many classical, non-classical and improvised settings. Out of this interest, Mr. Chair was born. Joining a group of friends whose musical skills are varied and impressive, Mark helped form The Mr. Chair Quartet in 2016, and has been helping the group to forge a path into a place where classical, rock and jazz styles merge. When he isn't writing and arranging tunes or exploring performance opportunities for the MC Quartet, Mark is teaching music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is the Professor of Trombone and a member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet.

Visit Mark's website here: markhetzler.com

Jason Kutz

Piano and Keyboards

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Jason Kutz grew up in Kiel, Wisconsin, a small town in the countryside. He studied piano and percussion at a young age, and eventually went on to receive his B.M. in Recording Technology/Music Industry from UW Oshkosh and M.M. in Piano Performance from UW Madison, studying both classical and jazz.  

He still resides in Madison where he works as a pianist, composer, teacher, arranger, artist, graphic designer, and sound engineer. He tours regularly around the Midwest with Opera for the Young, a professional outreach opera company that performs abridged operas for elementary schools.  He is a three-time concerto competition winner, and has recently travelled to Beijing, China to teach a summer program at the Magic Piano Arts Academy.  


His musical interests lie wholly within and between the classical and jazz worlds. All music is constructed with the same building blocks, and it's only with small changes in formula that genre and affect differ. His greatest interest is discovering and blending these borders, and using them as fuel for each musical project.


Jason's passion abounds outside of music, in soccer, yoga, interactive media, cleaning, painting, drawing, traveling, and discovery.

www.jasonkutz.com

Mike Koszewski

Drums and Percussion

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Mike Koszewski is an experienced musician from Madison, WI with a diverse background in percussive arts. As a former member of the percussion quartet Clocks in Motion Mike performed, taught and lectured throughout the midwest and east coast at institutions such as Interlochen Arts Academy, University of Michigan, Ohio University, Baldwin Wallace University, Casper College, Queensboro College, and College of William and Mary. For three years he has been a featured guest percussionist with Oakwood Chamber Players in Madison and is sub with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra. Mike is also a versatile drum kit player and pit orchestra musician, regularly performing with Four Seasons Theater, Forward Theater Company, Capital City Theater and Children's Theater of Madison. He is a member of experimental jazz/rock combo Lovely Socialite and the Ben Ferris Jazz Octet, and is well regarded as a session/freelance musician and educator in Madison and beyond. 


By day he is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Overture Center for Arts and can occasionally be spotted running his wonderful pup Penny Lane.