A smiling person rests their head on their hand as they pose for a photo.

It’s been five decades of providing students with the skills and experience needed to succeed in the music industry and Humber College is celebrating that milestone with an anniversary concert that brings together current and former students and faculty.

The 50th Anniversary Spring Showcase happens March 31 at 8 p.m. in the Humber Lakeshore Auditorium and will be headlined by Humber Music alumna Laila Biali and her Jazz Trio plus special guests including current and former faculty members Pat LaBarbera, Andrew Scott, Kevin Turcotte, and Kelsley Grant. The multi-award-winning jazz vocalist, pianist and songwriter is host of the CBC Radio program Saturday Night Jazz.

“Humber will always have a special place in my heart and personal history,” said Biali. “I was there during my formative years as a jazz musician. Some of the relationships established with other students – even those who came after me such as (Grammy Award-winning musician and Humber faculty) Larnell Lewis – remain key to my career and trajectory today, 20-plus years later. The teachers who nurtured my musicianship – Don Thompson, Pat LaBarbera, Ted Quinlan, and Trish Colter among them – will always be remembered and cherished. To get to perform with Pat at the 50th Anniversary showcase is a true honour.”

Material from new album to be performed

Biali said to expect a combination of original songs from her JUNO Award-winning self-titled 2018 release plus a sneak peek at material from her upcoming album, Your Requests.

She fondly remembers her time at Humber and said she was actually planning to attend university for the sciences but was offered a scholarship for Humber’s jazz program after the head of the department at the time, Brian Lillos, heard Biali perform with her high school big band. It completely changed her career path.

One of the more memorable moments from her time at Humber came after Biali was given a chance to perform live.

“One of my first gigs was at Loblaws – yes, the grocery store – while they had a jazz series going on,” said Biali. “I played there with some fellow students, literally in front of the frozen peas. It was odd but also exciting. I'll never forget it.”

The second half of the concert will feature The Humber 50th Anniversary Band and will take the listener on a journey through each decade of music at Humber. The ensemble is comprised of both current and former Humber music students and faculty.

Andrew Scott, coordinator of the Bachelor of Music program, helped organize the concert and will perform both with Biali and the 50th Anniversary Band. He said the quality of instruction at Humber and how it’s largely performance-based make it a truly remarkable program. He pointed to LaBarbera, a former faculty member who has since retired, as representing “the absolute zenith” of jazz saxophone and an example of the strength of instructors the program offers.

Graduates have received international recognition

Humber is the only Ontario college to offer a four-year degree in music performance. The College provides a comprehensive system of music education that encompasses five distinct offerings: Introduction to Commercial Jazz Music, Bachelor of Music, Music Business and Music Composition for post-secondary students as well as the Community Music School, where children aged three to 18 discover their love of music making and develop performance skills.

Humber's music graduates have received international recognition and Bachelor of Music alumni have been accepted into Master of Music programs at Juilliard, McGill University, York University, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Louisville, and other institutions. Graduates have been nominated for or have won Grammys, JUNOs, Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist Awards, National Jazz Awards, DownBeat Awards, and have received the Hnatyshyn Foundation Oscar Peterson Grant for Jazz Performance.

Artists and producers in residence visit Humber annually to work with students. Some past guests include jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, Susan Rogers, who worked as the audio engineer on Prince's Purple Rain, and Grammy award-winning producer Greg Wells, a former Humber Music student who has worked with renowned artists such as Katy Perry and Adele.

The Carandang Pincente Jazz Orchestra, which was formed by current Humber students Dain Carandang and Angela Pincente, will kick off the concert.

Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

For more on Humber’s music programs, visit the Faculty of Media and Creative Arts website.