Q&A with Artistic Director Dr. Christopher T. F. Hansen and the Jazz Band

Q&A with Rainbow City Jazz Band's Conductor: Dr. Christopher T. F. Hanson

Q: Hi Christopher! Can you share your journey and experiences leading up to your current role as Artistic Director?
A: There are very few things in the world that can bring a group of people together; I believe the arts has that power. I have a history of working with community music programs (over 15 years). I spent a majority of my career as an educator working with youth. Recently, I've had the incredible opportunity to work with a larger range of ages and experience levels. I am extremely passionate about the power of the arts to build community. In my time as a public school teacher, a performer, a conductor, and a community arts advocate, I seek opportunities to promote community building through the arts above all else.  Despite a growing number of differences, capable of further dividing society, we find unity as an audience to the arts! Rainbow City has given me the incredible opportunity to continue this work and to specifically serve the queer community.
Q: Can you describe any challenges you have faced taking over directing the jazz band while looking for a full-time director, and how you've worked to overcome them?
A: The greatest "challenge" has been getting back into jazz. I use to perform as a jazz vocalist and violinist for years with my jazz trio "No Strings Attached" back in the early 2000s. When I started teaching orchestra in public schools, I had less time for gigs, and jazz in general. I have missed it a great deal, and working with the jazz band has truly enriched my musical experiences in Rainbow City! I have been dusting off old skills, and learning some new ones to best serve Rainbow City Jazz Band.
Q: Can you describe your approach to selecting repertoire for the band's current Gala performance?
A: I am asking the band to select their favorite pieces from years past! I hope the gala performance will be a celebration of Rainbow City Jazz Band's rich history repertoire.
Q: What strategies do you use to engage and motivate the jazz band's members during rehearsal and performances?
A: One of my biggest goals as a conductor is to encourage curiosity. When we are curious, we are ready to learn. I try to ask questions like "What did you think, How can we make that better, what could we do differently?" The beauty of music, is that every performance is different. There is always an opportunity to explore new ways of hearing and playing pieces. I hope I am teaching them something, because I know I am learning a lot from them!
Q: What should we look forward to for your upcoming Gala performance?
A: I am excited to share the pieces the band has selected. I am also hoping to add some of my favorites and a few new tunes by female composers!

Q&A with Rainbow City Jazz Band


Q: What do you hope listeners take away from experiencing your music?

A: Throughout our history, we've primarily been a dance band, so we love to see our audience dancing along and having a good time! Tapping your feet, clapping, or even singing along to a chart you're familiar with are all wonderful ways for listeners to immerse themselves, show their appreciation, and ultimately become a part of our performances.

Q: Are there any particular venues or events that you dream of performing at in the future?

A: We LOVE an engaged, enthusiastic crowd! We're excited to work to expand our performance towards playing in great institutions of Seattle's jazz scene such as Demetriou's Jazz Alley or in queer-owned dance spaces central to the LGBTQIA+ community like Capitol Hill's Century Ballroom.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring jazz musicians or bands looking to start their own journey?

A: It's never too late to start! Many of our members have started playing their instruments again for the first time in decades. Also, don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone or try something new.

We're a group of community members, not professionals, and are committed to empowering aspiring players to further their musical education and engagement regardless of ability level. We hope you can be a part of musical family as a listener, dancer, or player!