By Chuck Gibson
Sophomore Zach Baker met Jeremy Kittel when he visited Loveland four years ago. Kittle, a talented fiddle player, only brought another cello player, not his whole band on that visit.
“It’s a total different experience when he brings his band,” said Baker. “When you work with a band, they sound so much more professional. It’s the whole thing, we’re just an orchestra.”
Baker and the other students rehearsed with Kittle & Co (note, not short for Company, but pronounced like COE) in the auditorium during the afternoon. Jeremy Kittel led the way, talking, teaching, and playing his fiddle along with Quinn Bachand on the guitar and Josh Pinkham on the mandolin. The workshop was an opportunity for students of Rachel Bierkan to expand their musical knowledge and sounds.
“I hear so many different things going on,” Baker said, “just rhythm, keeping the beat and just how many different sounds are going on. You keep yourself going while you’re playing music, there is no other way, you can’t just stand there. You do the groove.”
The students heard all about the “groove” from Kittel while rehearsing. There was a lot of movement, bobbing heads foot-tapping, bodies swaying and a really full sound. Best of all, a lot of smiling and improvising filled the stage.
“We’re on tour for three weeks,” said Kittel. “These workshops are a great way to connect with the students. We try to give a different spark of music, of creativity for students as well.”
Classical music is some of Kittel’s favorite music, but it is not usually known to be creative. They try to make it a little different for the students in the workshops. They led the students into a more “groove-based improvisation” to light a spark. It’s not something you hear that much in orchestra because it is all about everyone playing together to make the big sound.
“It’s a wonderful thing for students to open up with their instruments in a different way,” Kittel said. Kittel & Co’s style of music is sometimes referred to as new acoustic music. Kittel calls it a “diverse American style of acoustic string music” because of the melting pot America is. Their music reflects that with elements of Celtic, jazz, and bluegrass. “We’re just trying to make good music.”
Loveland School orchestra director Rachel Bierkan was impressed with the workshops during the day.
“They can’t stop playing,” said Bierkan. “As soon as they got their instruments out they were all jamming together. The improvisation and creativity is just crazy.”
Bierkan was especially impressed with how the band communicated with one another, how Jeremy just started playing something and the band just picked it up immediately. That ability is what she hopes the students will do eventually. The Monday evening concert gave the students the opportunity to do a little of that with a professional band.
The concert was a little over an hour. Kittel & Co played the Grammy nominated track “Chrysalis” from their album “Whorls”. Loveland orchestra students joined the band near the end including an exhilarating finale performance of “Skylife” by the Chamber Orchestra with the band. The Chamber Orchestra performance included the students improvising with Kittel & Co. The crowd lingered to meet and greet the performers afterward.
“The band shared great stories and wisdom from their experiences as musicians,” Bierkan said. “It was a great day of exciting music. The band was incredible. The students were very inspired and excited to experiment with new techniques today.”
“Inspiration is the best we can do,” said Kittel. “We love to see the students excited to play and feel something differently.”
Photo caption: Loveland Orchestra students performed in concert with Kittel & Co after a day of workshops with the band at LHS Auditorium