We had the good fortune of connecting with Drew Zaremba and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Drew, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
What brings me joy in life – Hearing a new piece of music I wrote being performed! Spending a day uninterrupted with my wife. Traveling! Being a foreigner and learning new customs. Trying new foods! A deep conversation with friends. Bringing a musical project to life. Finishing a long hike. Connecting with PEOPLE. Why? Because I feel ALIVE when these things happen.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a jazz composer and arranger. I play piano, organ, saxophones, flutes, and clarinets.I love composing, but what is more fun for me is reimagining a piece. That is, to “cover” a song in such a way that it’s completely different from before. Reasons for doing this change from piece to piece, sometimes I want to create irony between the lyric and the music, sometimes I want to enhance the meaning behind a lyric or melody, and other times I just enjoy tinkering with harmony or presentation. What I love about my life is that this (the craft of arranging) is my main job as an assistant professor of music at UNC. Some of my favorite reimaginations: Blue Danube as a jazz waltz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usSxd5bUzo4 As by Stevie Wonder as a Cuban Mambo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnEjNaiJXVw and Fur Elise as a jazz epic with full orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x28hjpOkMqQ My most challenging reimagination was a set of 12 Chinese Opera pieces I was asked to combine with jazz sextet. I got to live in China for 2 months to research and learn about Chinese Opera in Xi’an, Beijing, and Zhuhai. It was incredible.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I don’t really know Denver sadly! Been in Greeley mostly these last 3 years. I love Dazzle and Nocturne though! If friends came to visit I’d take them to Estes Park and RMNP – go to Lily lake, or Cub lake. Gotta go to the mountains! OH – I also love Boulder!! Dushanbe Teahouse!! My favorite spot in Boulder bar none. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife, the light of my life – Jolie to my wonderful colleagues at UNC To my mentors – Rich deRosa and John Clayton To my family for all their love and support To God for his innumerable blessings