Pushing classical music forward – The Willits News


By Grace Magruder Farmer for the UCCA

Ukiah Community Concert Association kicks off its 76th season with clarinet and guitar duo Jâca (Wesley Ferreira and Jaxon Williams), who will bring an adventurous, passionate, and completely original musical style to the Mendocino College Center Theatre stage on Oct. 8 at 2 p.m.

Jâca’s music defies the constraints of a single genre, inspiring the review by The CoffeeHouse Classical, “It’s classical music, but you wouldn’t believe it.” As they shift from Flamenco to Fado, Appalachia to Argentina, the pulse that runs through this musical partnership is the duo’s commitment to creating meaningful connections through music.

Jâca’s foundation is built on the immense musical talent of its two members. Wesley Ferreira has been hailed as one of the prominent clarinetists of his generation. Born in Canada to parents of Portuguese heritage, he received his musical training at the University of Western Ontario (B.M) and Arizona State University (M.M and D.M.A) and currently is part of the faculty of Colorado State University’s celebrated School of Music, Theater, and Dance.

He leads an active and diverse professional life performing worldwide as soloist, orchestral, and chamber musician, and as an engaging adjudicator and clinician. Equally at ease performing the masterworks as well as contemporary pieces, he has been featured soloist with numerous wind bands and orchestras in North America and Europe and has nine albums to his credit including the 2013 East Coast Music Awards winner – Classical Recording of the Year, and 2015 International Portuguese Music Awards winner in the Instrumental Category.

Jaxon Williams, who holds a Doctorate in Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California, has been praised as “a player of rare power and grace”  (William Kanengiser, GRAMMY award winning LAGQ). A Fulbright Scholarship took him to Spain to master the Spanish guitar repertoire, where he also studied Flamenco guitar with maestros Paco Cortés and Adam del Monte. He has won prizes in various international competitions, including the OSAA Classical Guitar Competition, Sierra Nevada International Classical Guitar Competition, San Francisco Classical Guitar Competition, Pacific Guitar Competition, and Beverly Hills National Auditions. Currently based in Los Angeles, Jaxon serves as California Regional Director for the non-profit Lead Guitar, where he implements classical guitar programs in low-income schools, trains new teachers, and supervises existing programs.

Combining forces has necessitated that these creative musicians add an extra layer of creativity. Williams explained in Ashland’s Sneak Preview, “Jâca is such a fun duo because there is hardly any classical music for guitar and clarinet, so we create exclusive arrangements and have music written for us by composers. Because our instruments are really involved in other genres, we naturally get to blur the line between classical and styles from around the world.” Their recently released album Breakthrough (2022) showcases the rich potential of this unique pairing of instruments in a collection of new works from European and American folk traditions, which they hope will serve to inspire more musicians and composers to continue this foray into their new musical territory.

But Jâca is up to more than just adding modern arrangements to the classical canon. Cultures -The Global Multicultural Magazine declared the duo to be “… at the forefront of a growing social consciousness in classical music.” As international traveling musicians, Ferreira and Williams realized they could infuse their concerts with storytelling to build cultural understanding among the communities they visit. “Their virtuosic and engaging concerts stimulate emotion, inspire imagination, and promote multicultural understanding and appreciation,” wrote The Times Kuwait.

Focusing beyond the “how” of making music to explore the “why” is also a recurring theme in their masterclasses, lectures, and residency programs where they share their experience discovering a deeper level of meaning behind the music they perform, including topics of promoting multiculturalism and cultural exchange. The duo also collaborated recently to create the Jâca Cultural Exchange Program (JCEP), whose tagline is “Artists helping artists: Supporting musical communities and sharing culture from one locale to the next.” The JCEP accomplishes this goal in part by raising funds to help support and draw attention to underprivileged musical communities, one of which receives the accumulated funds each year.

With a beautiful sound and beautiful hearts, Jâca is not a band to be missed. Their desire to use their technical prowess as musicians to reach more deeply into music they share with their audiences makes them the perfect opening concert for the Ukiah Community Concert Association; an organization that has claimed for over 75 years that “Live music makes life better!”

Tickets for non-season subscribers are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Advance tickets are available online at www.ukiahconcerts.org and at Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah and Mazahar in Willits. As part of our on-going educational outreach program, free tickets are available to youth 17 and under when accompanied by an adult, and to full-time (12 units) college students. Free tickets must be reserved in advance by calling 707-463-2738 with name, phone number and email address. For more information, please contact the UCCA at 707-463-2738 or email us at info@ukiahconcerts.org

Ukiah Community Concert Association has been presenting nationally acclaimed talent since 1947. This all-volunteer nonprofit’s mission is to build and maintain a permanent concert audience and cultivate an interest in fine music of all genres among the citizens of the community and surrounding area. It is also their goal to encourage music appreciation in the schools of the community.

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