Although it is Andrew Cook’s first year as jazz band director, he has been directing at a collegiate level for 11 years. He has spent the majority of this semester preparing to face his biggest challenge yet — Spring Sing.
Cook said students and faculty alike warned him that “campus goes crazy for Spring Sing,” that “it’s a really big deal” and that he would not understand the enormity of it until he had experienced it firsthand. He said that conducting the band for the homecoming musical helped prepare him for Spring Sing.
“I’m beginning to understand more and more every day how big of a deal Spring Sing is,” Cook said. “But thankfully it has been a really easy collaboration with Susan Shirel and Dottie Frye. Since I conducted the musical in the fall, it gave me a head start on working with the theater folks and getting to know them.”
Cook said he is thankful for the talented group of musicians he gets to interact with and the opportunity Spring Sing gives to showcase that talent to a large amount of people.
“I have a really good group of excellent readers,” Cook said. “I’m excited for them to perform in the Benson. It is such a big place, and there are always huge crowds. For a musician, it is always a thrill to get audience reaction from such a large group of people.”
Cook said the music selections for this year’s show feature a variety of genres to better connect with different age groups. Cook said the arrangements by Dr. Warren Casey and David White are really well done and fun to play, and that the hosts and hostesses have done a wonderful job working with the band to make everything fit together perfectly.
“There are so many different styles,” Cook said. “There’s Dixie Land jazz, contemporary pop tunes and love ballads. It’s a really good mix and it’s really audience-friendly because there are so many different types of music.”
In his first year Cook has jumped in feet-first to all that being a jazz band director at Harding entails. He said he feels as though he is in a good place.
“This is the kind of thing I like to do,” Cook said. “I like big projects like directing Spring Sing and the musical. I hope this is not my last Spring Sing, and I know most of my colleagues would laugh if they heard me say that because they know how much time it takes up, but I really do enjoy it.”