Sunny Swings in to the Wharton Center

For Sunny Wilkinson, performing as the feature artist with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is something that has felt long overdue. Sunny Swings the American Songbook, featuring Wilkinson, will premiere at the Wharton Center on Friday, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. The concert will feature all new arrangements for pieces by Sondheim, Ellington and Gershwin. “I’ve sung for the LSO many times in the past, but this is the first time I’ve had a featured concert,” Wilkinson said. “They are fantastic, and I’m just thrilled about the idea of singing a whole concert at their caliber, which is extremely high.” Jazz vocalist and international recording artist Wilkinson moved to Okemos from Los Angeles and, along with her performing, was a former assistant professor of jazz voice at Michigan State University and currently conducts a vocal jazz ensemble at Lansing Community College. “I’m very enthusiastic about (jazz) music and very intense about it, and I think that comes out whether I’m performing, conducting or teaching,” she said. Jazz music has been a part of Wilkinson’s life longer than it has not. Although she has worked with many other musical styles, she fell in love early on with jazz’s element of surprise and spontaneity that keeps an artist on her feet. “When you pursue an art music that has more depth than you’ll ever hope of achieving, it’s very stimulating and inspiring,” she said. “Jazz is rhythmically swinging and fun, it’s fresh and improvisational, and the literature has fantastic tunes. At the same time it’s very challenging. Jazz music is also about the community and the great musicians you get to be around who influence and mentor you.” This won’t be Wilkinson’s first time performing at the Wharton Center, a concert hall which she says rivals any in the country. “It’s a fantastic performing arts facility. They have a great sound system and crew, and it’s a lovely concert hall.” Making music at a high caliber is its own reward for Wilkinson, and she knows it’s going to happen with the LSO and is excited to share the stage with them and conductor Timothy Muffitt. “You can never diminish the importance of the response from the audience. I hope to sing to a full house and move people to their toes with this music.”

Tags: east lansing, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, LSO, Sunny Wilkinson, The Wharton Center

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